Parenting

Living with a Comedian

Living with a Comedian. Now I’m not talking about Jerry Seinfeld or Brian Regan. I’m talking about the five-year-old that lives at your house. The one who’s reality is so different from the one us grown ups perceive, that in his incredibly honest interactions with the world, hilarity abounds.

As part of our series of interviews with real moms living their real lives, I’d like you to meet my Aunt Sherry, who is absolutely delightful and charming in every way, and has the blessing of living with one such comedian. I had the opportunity to interview her for this post, and use my extensive background knowledge to fill in the blanks.

Sherry Cutler and Fam

Mini Bio (in her own words):

I grew up in Bountiful, UT, attended Brigham Young University, graduated in Business Education with an Emphasis in Marketing. I met Paul right around the time I was graduating and we were married shortly thereafter.  I taught high school Marketing and Business classes (which I loved) for a couple of years until I had Rebekah and then chose to stay home to raise my children.

Paul finished up his undergraduate at the University of Utah, and then we moved to McKinney, TX. From there we moved to Chattanooga, TN for a few months, back to TX, then on to Herzliah Pituach, Israel, and then back to TX.  Finally, right before my third child, Scotty was born, we moved back to Centerville, UT–the place Paul was raised.  We have been here ever since.

We have 5 children–4 who are hanging out with us on earth, and one who is waiting for us in heaven–ranging in age from 19 years all the way down to 5 years old.



Now it’s time to meet the comedian–T., who is 5 years old. My little sister is on a two year mission for our church, and as she was leaving she made me promise to include Sherry’s Facebook posts about T. in my email to her each week. That’s how funny they are. Please enjoy a couple of my favorites :)


T, giving the prayer over dinner: Thank you for our food. Thank you that I am a real wizard. Thank you that I went to wizard school that one time.

And then he closed the prayer.


I woke up from my Sunday nap to find Curious George snuggled in my arms and a blue post-it note stuck to me: “Slythertin.” I didn’t remember getting drunk beforehand, but ???? As it turns out, Paul woke up from HIS Sunday nap with “Gryffindor” attached to his body, though no stuffed animal. Apparently T didn’t take a Sunday nap…the good news is we knew he had been somewhat supervised: someone had to dictate to him how to spell our Houses, right?

Slytherin


Paul–ok let’s go brush your teeth.
T–but I NEED bad breath!
Me–Why?…Oh, wait…is it because you’re a dragon?
T–yes, and if dragons losened* their breath, then they aren’t dragons anymore.
Me–how about if you brush with the special bad breath toothpaste?
T, hesitantly–OK…

*he means “lose.” Conjugation is still a work in progress with this one.


Is there any such thing as a typical day for you? If so, what is it?

Well, it seems like at this phase of my life, nothing is “typical” anymore, because everyone is going in different directions, and we are all involved in various “extra curricular” activities, but every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, I peel myself off the sheets, and after family prayer, I head to the gym to lift weights.  On Tuesday and Thursdays, I have tennis lessons during the day while T. is at preschool.

What happens during the day after those activities really depends on what is going on in our lives at the moment.  T. is having a very different childhood than my older three did.  He ends up traveling with me to the other kids’ activities, or things I am involved with church or community-wise, rather than spending the day at home, or at playgroups or parks, etc.  I am grateful however, that he does still get to be with me–even if we are at different venues than my other children were when small.
On days where we get to just “spend the day” at home, he and I work together on his job list and then he (sometimes) helps me with mine.  We also like to play games or work on his reading together.  He is a very creative, independent “player,” so he will often go off and play with his toys by himself, occasionally pulling me “into the storyline” as I’m doing laundry or dishes or fixing meals.  He is quite entertaining.  I also make sure he gets “friend time” each week by inviting his friends over.  Since he doesn’t have any siblings close in age, I feel like this is important.

Is there a cool/unique parenting tradition you guys have? If so, what is it?

Each week, we have a family night where we spend time learning or just enjoying each other.  One of the traditions we have implemented related to this is “Compliments.”   Each member of the family takes a turn complimenting the other members of the family on something specific that that member said, or did or helped someone with.  For example, “I’d like to compliment Sarah on the way she helped me study for my math test.”  Or “I’d like to compliment Scotty on his awesome job playing first base at his baseball game.”  It can be anything really.  My children have really loved this tradition–T. often asks if we can “do compliments” other times–at dinner, in the car, etc.
It is a good time for us to recognize each other and be recognized for accomplishments or to show and be shown love and gratitude in a safe environment free from judgement or ridicule.

What do you do if you get a spare minute to yourself?

This is actually something that I am working on–carving out “spare minutes.”  I have a tendency to take on/agree to so much, that I don’t spontaneously get “a spare minute.”  I am learning that I need to be more discriminating in my commitments.

T. seems like a pretty rambunctious kid and you seem to do a great job of finding the humor in his antics rather than getting frustrated. Does this take a lot of effort and what helps you with this?

He really is quite the character.  He seems to have all of my other kids’ personalities rolled into one, with a few extra facets sprinkled in.  And yes, it does take effort.  He is just so different than the other three were, and a lot of time I have no idea what to do with him.  But, I think the two biggest factors in my being able to somewhat handle things with patience or even find humor sometimes are:

1-His personality is one I have not raised before–at least not all lumped into one, as I mentioned.  Things that worked on my other three do not work with him.  Because I recognize that I’m dealing with a “whole new animal” (for lack of a better term), and recognize I haven’t figured out all of the “tools” I need with him, I have to cut myself slack.  And this often results in me cutting him more slack than I would have my other kids (they take exception to this, of course), as I try to figure him out.  He does not respond well to “pushing.”  He will “push” back until the death of one of us.  He is so strong-willed.  I have to let some things slide that I know in the long run won’t matter (see #2 below), and then on the bigger, very important stuff–stuff that would not be good to “let slide,” I have to “come in the back door” to teach him, correct him, and help him understand the consequences.  I have to be smooth, and often have to make it seem like he came up with the idea himself to fix the mistake and make the right choice.  This takes a lot of time and patience.  Especially since he has a very precocious mind and comes up with rationalizations one would not expect out of a 5-year old.

2-I’m older, and have more perspective than I did as a young mom.  Many moms don’t have the opportunity to essentially raise one “family” and then start over 8 years later with another child.  Often they raise their kids, and they do gain the perspective, but don’t get the chance to use that perspective on more kids until they get grandchildren.  I think that is one of the reasons grandparents think that being a grandparent is so fun.  They have the perspective, and think their grandkids are hilarious in the middle of what the parents of those same kids think is horrific.  :-)pgs

I’ve raised three other kids through the early childhood phases, and as it turns out, things my kids did that seemed like a HUGE deal back then, turned out not to be.  They go in and out of phases so fast–even though it doesn’t seem like they will.  They do crazy stuff and then they grow up a little and quit doing crazy stuff.  (Granted they do new crazy stuff, but it does follow a pattern.) I thought Sarah would never learn to eat without getting food all over everything and all over herself.  Ever.  Eventually she did.  Looking back, many of these “phases” were really funny.  The stuff they did was hilarious.  Although at the time, I didn’t always think so.  Since I have this perspective now, I move a lot more quickly from “wow, this is so not good” to “this is totally funny–people are going to get a kick out of this.”  And then sometimes I take photos.  Of course, I have to correct him if it is something that needs correcting, so I have to be careful that he doesn’t realize that I think it is funny.  It can be tricky to keep a straight face.

And, lest people think I am just this easy-going mom who never gets frustrated.  Oh.  Believe me. There are times it takes me awhile to get to the “humor” point with some of his antics. There are some things that I STILL haven’t found the humor in.  There are times when I have had to completely remove myself from the situation in order not to do something I would regret later.  Like the time he took a rotary cutter to all of my leather dining chairs and stools.  Yep.

 

Talk to me about the role of reading in your home.

Reading is HUGE around here.  All of my children LOVE to read. We all do. In fact, we are one of those weird families where the parents threaten to take books away if chores don’t get done.  I sometimes find myself wondering at what point does too much reading at one time become detrimental.

Of course, overall, I’m grateful that my kids love to read and are skilled readers.  This has helped them do well in school.  In my mind, it makes all the difference.

We start reading to our kids when they are babies, and we always have baby books in with the other toys they play with.  The progression follows naturally.  If they are always around books, and they are being read books, and they see other people in the family reading, they want to read too, and are so excited when they start to recognize words.  We emphasize it a lot.  We also really enjoy listening to audiobooks when we go on trips as a family.

Is there something you’d like to remind other mothers of? If so, what is it?

You are all doing WAY better than you think you are!  We need to band together and remind each other of this every single day.  It is so easy to get discouraged–not matter what phase of motherhood you are in.  Have confidence in knowing that you are the mother of your children for a reason.  That you know what is best for those children.  Trust yourself.


My Aunt Sherry is the kind of person who is absolutely delightful to be around. She’s accomplished, kind, and absolutely down to earth, and she inspires me to be better. To the moms of the world, take a page out of my Aunt Sherry’s book. Make the effort to carve some time out for you. Create and cherish the safe environment of your family. And perhaps most importantly, take the opportunity to laugh and enjoy it when your kids do silly things and have a blast in their alternate reality. And remember, that you are doing better than you think you are!

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