Sage Wisdom from the Birthday Girl

Now that I am older than I was yesterday, I figured that today I am much wiser than I was then.  Being older means giving good advice about what I have learned in my life.  So here it goes.  Please remember to learn from my mistakes so that you do not have to repeat them in your life.

  1. Never rollerblade with a dog on a leash when the dog loves to chase cars. (Not one of my finer ideas.)
  2. When you are in labor and your water has not yet broken, do not go into the carpeted doctor’s lounge.
  3. Don’t drop cell phones into rug cleaner even if the instructions don’t say it is a problem.
  4. Do not get rid of watermelon rinds under your back deck. (It took a whle to figure out where the stench and the flies were coming from.)
  5. Do not carry your toddler all the way up the steps at Buttermilk Falls (my legs were literaly shaking when we got back to the car).
  6. Don’t trust the hospital staff to give you the right amount of pain meds after lung surgery. (Without Laura reminding me to breathe, I would have gone off into a nice, peaceful sleep…)
  7. If you drop your cellphone into eggs you are making, don’t rinse it off with water.
  8. Apparently you can’t die from coughing.
  9. Plant flowers as soon as you get them home from the nursery.  If you wait two weeks, they tend to die.
  10. All plants need to be watered but don’t overwater.
  11. Don’t drive a snowmobile with steering issues near an outhouse.
  12. Apparently, nobody else likes yellow paint in the living room.
  13. Educating your own children becomes problematic in their teen years as they can logically justify all sorts of stuff and get you really confused, and the next thing you know you are breeding pomeranians.
  14. Standing on chairs to fix things when you are big pregnant makes people upset.
  15. Stepping over a child gate on the top of the stairs while you are big and pregnant just gets you stuck.
  16. If you make sugar cookies, don’t forget the sugar.
  17. Don’t go ice skating when you are having balance issues.
  18. Don’t take kids you are babysitting into a pasture where a bull is, no matter how good the apples in the middle of the pasture look.
  19. When you are making formula for your baby right after reading an article about a mom who had to get her formula exactly right or her baby would die, don’t miss the part about her baby having a disease.
  20. When you start crocheting a blanket, don’t forget to stop.
  21. When you are a freshman in college, don’t wait two weeks after classes start to read your syllibus.

I hope this is helpful for you. I certainly wish someone had told me these things.  If you have any of your own to help others, please feel free to add them to the comments.

Combative Learning

It is okay to struggle through the learning process with your child, even when voices get a bit loud. The important thing is staying in there and not giving up.

Homeschooling your child is a game of chance: you never know what you are going to get.  Let’s face it.  Teaching our children at home gives us the mirage of our children quietly and eagerly hanging on every word we say and happily swinging their little feet while they work on their math.

You may have noticed that the picture I have chosen to go with this post does not show that.  In fact, this is what I see more commonly. Parents feel like a failure after promising God each night that they are not going to “lose it” tomorrow.

I am going to go out on a limb here.  Before I do, I would like to mesmerize you with my credentials: bachelors of education from the University of Michigan; taught in the trenches of inner city Detroit; homeschooled for 18 years; graduated 3 valedictorians; have one 14 year old left and still going.  So here is my limb: it is okay to struggle through the daily teaching of your children.

I am not advocating screaming and yelling.  What I am saying is that learning is always best when there is a struggle going on to grasp and learn the material. That is what learning is.   Math brings out the worst in parents and children.  Even one of my “easy to homeschool” children always seemed to lose it when we came to high school math.  It is hard to sit through a proof in geometry without losing it yourself.

Then there are the students who are going to argue with everything you tell them.  One of my children in kindergarten told me that the sound of “a” was only the long vowel sound, not the short vowel sound.  No matter how hard I tried to explain it in different ways, she was resolute.  I finally resorted to the “I’m the teacher and I have been to college so you have to go with what I say”.  She was unimpressed no matter what volume I said it at.

I got cried and repented at the altar for “losing it” many a time, yet there was no heavenly intervention.  While I wish I had remained calm when my kids were not, it really isn’t resonable to expect it.  Homeschooling is challenging and stressful for parents and children alike.  It is challenging and stressful for teachers in “traditional” schools as well.  Learning just is, and it is okay.

The important thing to remember is that no matter how combative your child or your school is, stay in there and struggle through it with them.  Eventually they will graduate, and the results will be an educated child who knows that their parents stayed in there even when it was difficult.  So kudos to you for staying in there and don’t beat yourself up.  Just keep on going.