It’s almost one a.m. You people on the mainland are just getting up to start your day and I can’t seem to end mine. There are lots of things on my mind and maybe that’s why I can’t sleep.

I’ve been thinking alot about how I parent my kids. For instance, when I’m handing out popsicles at the school to literally hundreds of kids and some child insists on getting “BLUE!” it grates at me. I wonder why on earth they can’t just be thankful that they are getting the blasted popsicle. What are their parents teaching them anyway? Then my child has a meltdown because she didn’t get the character plates she wants at dinner. I hate karma! I was thinking about my aggressive bossy, opinionated, five-year old who isn’t afraid to let anyone know what she wants. Do I really want to take that assertiveness away from her? How can I teach her the balance of being thankful for what she has and yet being assertive enough to go into a college interview and get what she wants? Anyone? I don’t want her to be the brat that has to have her way but I want her to go after what she wants. Is that even right? Can I want both for her?

So you know, especially if you have kids older than mine, I’m watching you. Please don’t get me wrong. I’ve been doing it since Arleigh was in diapers. My friend had her kids in bed between 7:30 and 8 p.m. EVERY NIGHT. It was awesome. I tried to replicate it. She never tried to be quiet in our tiny little military housing units so that they would sleep through everything. It worked. I started the same trend. Both of those things worked wonders.You see I’m not judging, I’m learning your tricks. I think it’s especially important to watch and see what works and what doesn’t as we enter the tweens and almost heaven help me a teen. Really?

I love my friend Kristen Welch’s blog. (I call her my friend but I’ve only really talked to her across a booth at a Taco Bueno during an orphan care conference for like maybe 15 minutes.) In my delusions she would live next to me and hold my hand and say this works but that doesn’t and what are we going to do about… Lucky for me I have her blog. So much of it resonates for me right now, like Why Healthy Children Aren’t Always Happy. We are entering the phase of tough decisions. It’s coming all too quickly. It seems like mine are mad at me for asking them to do something all the time. Heaven help me I remember thinking “Why is mom making me do this? Isn’t it her job?” Yes, I was a brat with a capital B and she worked as a teacher. Every time I ask them for extra help it crosses my mind that they might think it’s MY JOB. I’m forcing MY responsibility on them. If I don’t make them do it, will they learn how? Isn’t it irresponsible of me to send them to college not knowing how to load and unload a dishwasher, clean a bathroom, do their laundry?

I’ve also recently encountered an older child that is a bit of a mother hen. In fact, if I’m being honest I would say that she is a bit of a self righteous mother hen. Her encounters with one of my children haven’t ended well, usually for me because I’m dealing with a special needs tantrum after mother hen has tried to correct Jack one too many times and he just can’t understand her expectations. Then I feel her staring at me as if I can’t possibly know how to mother a child. Honestly, it’s the same look I got from an older Chinese woman on my flight from Taiyuan to Guangzhou. The look that says, “Poor girl just doesn’t know what she’s doing, if she would only let me…” You know the one. I’m getting it from a child. A quickly growing into a young lady child, but she is still a child! This concerns me a bit as I have two mother hens in this house. It’s one thing for them to mother their siblings a bit but it’s totally different if they start doing it to other kids and looking down their noses at other mothers. Heaven help me! How do you teach them to be helpers, and one day good mothers and yet keep them from acting like they know it all? I’m willing to bet after the first kid most of us are looking for the manual, even if took care of siblings. Speaking of that, I think my manual is still missing.

My sweet, loving adoring kids are starting to lose their sense of respect as they try to assert themselves. I hear “I know” instead of “Yes ma’am.”  Again, how do I get across respect and leave some of the assertiveness in tact? Stand up for yourself in a respectful way? Do the right thing but don’t be self righteous.

These aren’t the only things that worry me. Is one a hypochondriac? How do I teach them diligence when I still have a problem with it? We aren’t doing enough to help with their spiritual growth. We just aren’t. It’s clearly keeping me up at night. Hello 1 a.m. All that plus island life…those shorts are too short. You can’t wear those shoes with that. Where are your shoes? Yes you have to wear them! Those texting acronyms… Instagram… tween drama…science projects…how many people am I feeding tonight? You can’t go outside until chores are done. You have to practice piano. What do you mean you can’t find  your piano book AGAIN? Molded rash guards that are left in the garage…school forms…someone wants me to be on the PTA board…our schedule seems nuts and yet we worry that we aren’t pushing them to do more. Then there’s the five year old who used Facetime on the computer and my phone so she could conference call Nana Bonnie and Grandma.

Folks, I think I’m in over my head here. After that bit of rambling I know I am. Feel free to chime in with whines. Let me know if you have tips are tricks to get through the next 15 years. I think I may need it! I’m going to try to turn my brain off and sleep now.