The Counter Talk

Lately my family has been joking about having a podcast called “Counter Talk” In honor or our conversations around the kitchen counter. In our house, at the kitchen counter besides the food that gets put out for a gathering, there en el mostrador issues get pulled out, hashed out, dissected and either thrown out or left for another session. Nowadays it’s called “unpacking” with the good intention of calmly discussing a matter. Pero at the Greene home it’s more like something slipped out, or fell out. Ya sabes, when something is on our minds, we carry it with us, bouncing around our head very loosely y de repente! Bam, it’s on the kitchen counter. Aveces, one of us, usually Emery or myself will bring that heavyweight topic and purposely and not very gently place it on the counter, saying “This happened and I’m ticked!” 

What Does God Say About the Matter?

Through the years, Counter Talks have been therapeutic. We squeeze out every reaction, every feeling that comes forward because of ‘the issue,’ and we look for similar reactions from those at the counter. At the moment we don’t want to hear “What does God say about the matter?” Pero, pulling God into our counter talks makes them what they are; sometimes painful, beautiful, appreciated and refreshing. A veces, it’s one on one conversations but other times everyone at dinner is chiming in, contributing their thoughts to make sure all parts of the matter are viewed. While I’m on the kitchen side, working on something to serve, we are discussing a matter, and I will paint ‘the offender’ as maybe innocent or at the very least their intentions had no malice behind them, come on, they were not trying to hurt. It gets dicey when the conclusions come to:

“Let it go” Do nothing. God will make it right in the end, pero waiting for healing to come is so hard. Then there’s the other conclusion, You can’t just let it go, you’ve got to talk to that person, not about the person. You’ll have to ‘confront’ the matter and deal with it. Hijole! It can be dramatico, what if it ends a friendship? What if… All of this comes out at the counter.

When The Kids Grow Up

Nunca pense, that one day my kids would be “painting the bigger picture” at the kitchen counter. El otro dia, mi hijo was on my side of the kitchen counter?! While he ate his slice of chocolate cake and ice cream he said things like “Mom like you have always said” or “You taught us this” and he pulled God right into the matter! Luego, when we left the counter I received a text from my baby, ya se, he’s 20 and all grown up, his text reminded me that God’s gifts are worth fighting for. I laid in bed amazed at how much my kids hope in Jesus and despite their youth I was able to receive their gifts of encouragement and their challenges to believe God in the matter. 

En Conclusion

Este mes has been a hard month for me, I’ve wanted to run away, but that takes too much work, so I considered just crawling into bed to sleep “it” off and I have tried it, not sure if it helped. It’s been a month overflowing with every imaginable feeling surfacing and in me no strength to stop them from strutting. When Thomas, mi baby, sent that encouraging text he mentioned a “season of winter”  Hijole! I’m so very thankful for the support God has given me, winter is my least favorite season. Pero, I  am pleasantly and gratefully surprised that the support included my very own children.

Psalms 127:3 has taken a fuller, deeper meaning in my soul. “Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord. The fruit of the womb is a reward” (NKJ)

Don’t Get a Red Card for Your Parenting

Do you have any parenting regrets? Those early years go so fast and the firstborn can often be a guinnea pig receiving all the mistakes first time mothers can give.

As I was frantically looking for my wedding day photo with my ama, going through picture after picture, my eyes scanned the images like flashcards, or flash photos, a lifetime on fast forward. Despite my worry at not finding that picture I couldn’t help smiling, remembering and even yearning for all the days gone by. 

Then my eyes were arrested on a memory of one of my kids’ birthday celebrations. Once again the regret of that day creeped up on me. How can some things be so vivid so many years later? It was no big deal to him, he enjoyed himself and he forgave me 😊 but the lesson I learned that day affected and changed me. 

Parenting gives us too many opportunities to respond quickly. All kinds of images conjure up verdad? Here’s one: A friend once told me that in her third trimester of pregnancy she was at a pool party, things were great until a toddler fell into the pool, hijole! And what happened? Everyone froze! Seconds ticked by in slow motion, but she immediately jumped into the pool and pulled that child out and saved a life. Mil veces! Thank God that her big belly didn’t slow her quick response. As parents we need that, but the quick response I’m talking about is with words and judgments, asi es. 

Sometimes people, that means me too, tend to be quick with words and responses, not stopping to consider a situation more closely. This can be costly or hurtful. Here’s a lesson I learned as a newbie mother. 

Although I was new at parenting I recognized that follow through was critical. Follow through meant your word was reliable. If you said you would do it, then you should. Maybe I was incredibly strict with this because God had delivered me from habitual lying. It was no longer my habit. So how does this apply to parenting? Bueno, God really helped me teach my first born and later my other kids that lying was sin, an ugly violation which only led to bigger lies, problems and unnecessary hurt. What I said to my kids I meant. If they were misbehaving and I threatened with a certain consequence, I followed through, I needed to be careful with my words verdad? Mira lo que paso, 

My 5 year old was starting kindergarten and it was nerve racking for all kinds of reasons I conjured up. At his Spanish Immersion School, he was going to learn Spanish since his mother was miserably failing at teaching him. No me juzguen, don’t judge me, just hear me out. Although I speak, read and write Spanish well enough, it’s not at the forefront of my mind. Acuerdense, I was born and raised here in the United States. Besides, in our home; the Greene household, we spoke English. Needless to say I needed help if I wanted my son to learn Spanish, so off to the immersion he went.

Spanish Immersion

 Immersed in Spanish, like when you get dunked in the pool was my 5 year old at school. Teachers, aids, administrators, most all adults spoke only in Spanish, he was lost in a sea of spanish words. For Kindergarteners communication was mostly charades and facial expressions for survival in those first few months. 

Good Card-Bad Card

The other thing they got immersed in was color coded behavioral cards. Each teacher; Senora o Senorita, had her own “code of conduct” color system. It might have been like this: green, yellow, orange and red cards. Every child started their day with a the green card for good behavior (no association with my name 😏 ) As the day wore on and infractions happened a child would get warnings for disrupting and get their card changed to yellow. If they continued to digress, they would be demoted to orange. Finally, after several warnings a child would get the dreaded red card. Shame! Shame! Daniella called it “the walk of shame” as the guilty child had to walk up the aisle while all eyes were on him or her and change the card under his or her name to the repulsive red card. Only if it wasn’t too late in the day, he or she might be able to regain the good conduct green card.

The Red Card

After getting over his nervousness of a new environment Jonathan was enjoying his independence, maybe too much. He tended to talk to his new friends in English, at the wrong times and with no volume control. He tends to be loud like his mother, a naturally booming voice. (I must say that today he is a good preacher :)) Pues ya te imaginas! It got him in a lot of “red card” trouble. La Maestra had already pulled me aside on Open House night to tell me about Jonathan’s talkative ways. I tried all kinds of threats and disciplines to get him to change “the error of his ways” By the time March rolled around, I was tired of the red cards. I must tell you that Jonathan when he was confronted by the teacher about disrupting, if he was guilty, he admitted it. He didn’t wait to be found out, he always disclosed the truth about the red card even though he knew he would get in trouble, he didn’t want to be a liar. Those red cards became his thorn and my nightmare!

My son’s birthday was around the corner. How could a red card put such a gloomy outlook on a birthday? February was closing in on us and the red card taunted me one Thursday afternoon. Como pues? I said to my not so self-controlled 5 year old “If you promise not get a red card for the next few days we’ll have your birthday party, otherwise we won’t”  What did his birthday have to do with the red card? At that point I wasn’t asking for a green card (no pun intended) I was asking for any color but a red card. 

The race was on. Red was chasing him through the class room but he finished the week with no red stains. It worked! Then it didn’t. He stepped off the bus the next school day and he wasted no time in telling me about the latest red card. We both cringed at the ugly truth. 

Que iba hacer? Birthdays have always been a “Let’s have a big party” occasion for me. Invite friends, family and have a great feast and fun. Everything was set and the invitations were out. I had to cancel, Jonathan got a red card and the judgment had already been pronounced, there was to be no party. Porque dije eso? Why had I threatened to punish him like this? Really? No birthday Party? Oh God, I was wrong to speak without thinking. I truly am not sure which of us was more sorry. 

I took him outside to the backyard and there I explained as best you can to a 5 year old that his birthday party would be cancelled. For a moment I think he believed his day would be erased from the calendar, then he realized he wouldn’t have friends over. The piñata and the candy wouldn’t be used and worse still, was all the gifts wouldn’t be lavished on him and he was sad. I cried because I regretted my words. I got a red card that day.

En Conclusion:

I did follow through and cancel his birthday party that year, we quietly celebrated his birthday with pizza and cake. His amigito Richard came to dinner that evening. 

Dios Mio! I learned a valuable lesson that day in parenting, beware of loose cannonball words and foolish empty threats because what you say matters. Thank God for His mercy, my son grew into a man of God. He’s using that powerful voice as a preacher today.

Pastor Greene and his proud Mexican-American Mama


Me imagino, that every parent has that “lesson learning” parenting occasion in life that makes you stop when you feel the pinch of reprimand and you recognize, “O.k. I’m not going that way again” Andale, tell me, what have you learned from your kids? Have you turned that “red card” day into a lesson learned and a profitable tool?