Tuesday, July 17, 2007
Monday, July 16, 2007
Do the grocery clerks survey your bevy of children at checkout and give you a pitying look? "Do you need some help getting out?" they ask.
"No thanks," I used to grin, "I've got plenty of help." Then I'd enjoy the clerks' astonishment as my tots cheerfully gathered up the bags and toted them out of the store. (It works even better now that my children are teens.)
I'd have to say that this is the first secret of Wonder Woman. Children are your bionics.
When I needed a day of quiet in order to plan out the next semester's homeschool studies, well-meaning friends used to offer to babysit my little ones so that I could really work. Truth to tell, I couldn't really work without them. While I was planning lessons, they were doing the laundry, watering the garden and cooking supper - all the stuff that would have intruded upon my planning in any case.
Now before you call the authorities about child labor, take note. While they watered the garden, they picked flowers and ran through the sprinkler. My girls loved experimenting with new recipes whenever they cooked dinner. And folding laundry was a counting and sorting game for the littlest boy, punctuated by the opportunity to operate machines larger than himself.
I remember their looks of smug satisfaction as I would explain to said friends that I really couldn't spare my 'bionics'. They weren't in the way of my productivity. They were the reason that I could get three times more work done than everybody else.
And while my bionics didn't cost 6 million dollars, they did require an investment of time. We had to work side by side for a while until they learned the ropes - and the attitudes that would give them pride in work well done, and the revolutionary idea that working together could be fun.
Weren't there ever times when they didn't cooperate? Sure. Every organic system is constantly growing and changing. The delights offered in the work matured as the children did. And young slackers were offered the dreaded nap and appropriate discipline. But for the most part, they do cooperate.
They understand that this work together equips them for their own work. They see with increasing joy, that this homely labor is the key to their adult effectiveness and independence. And they look forward to the time when they can grow their own bionics.
Saturday, July 14, 2007
I'm not sure how I got here.
I've just been working the problems before me, taking care of home and family. Just doing what God and the day demand.
Suddenly, when I show up, people look startled, like I just appeared out of an invisible airplane. They ask me, "How do you do that?" with disbelief in their voices. And I'm thinking, "Do what?" They wave their arms and sputter.
I check myself for dangerous objects and social faux pas. Wrist-rockets? Rolling pins? Curlers? Spinach between my teeth?
Then I realize that I have arrived with a three-course meal, a book in-search-of-proofreaders, an invitation to participate in a college campus ministry effort, a baby gift, an original arrangement to practice for next week's worship service, a mural design for the church nursery and three highly-effective, infectiously gracious, relentlessly positive teen-agers.
But their question intrigues me. It is just dawning on me that this is unusual. I've never owned an energy lasso or even a star-spangled leotard and red knee-boots. I struggle with headaches, middle-age spread, dying lawns, teaching the fine points of cell division and difficult relatives just like everyone else.
So, I intend to tell my secrets...
Just as soon as I figure out what they are.
Tuesday, July 10, 2007
Wednesday, July 04, 2007
When I was studying American History in college, my professor was awe-struck by the American War for Independence. He was not so amazed by by colonies' willingness to rebel against tyranny. Plenty of people have done that. The French did it only a few years later than the Americans - with disastrous results. The Russians did it in 1914 - disaster again. Colonial Africa. Colonial Mid-East. Chaos. Bloodshed. Tribal genocide.
No what amazed and rather mystified my professor was the American patriots' ability to stop rebelling. The American Revolution was unique in its ability to go so far and no farther. Aside from the war itself, there was very little residual violence. No inter-colonial warfare. No general chaos. No campaign of terror. No violent imposition of radical social experiments on the public.
Check the rhetoric of those Founding Fathers. The American Revolution was unique in being a conservative revolution. The Patriots were calling people, not to some brave new world that none of them had ever seen, but instead to return to the law they all loved. For the Patriots, independence did not mean being able to define right and wrong for themselves, but being able to follow established law without interference.
Unlike all the other revolutions that come to mind, the American Revolution defined its end in its first principles.
Similarly, people have begun to ask my husband and I how our children have managed so successfully to become independent young people without rebelling. Our answer is that we have pointed our children to a different definition of independence than the one our culture offers. For our children, independence is not the freedom to do whatever you want to do whenever you want to do it. Rather, independence is the ability to take initiative to serve those God has put in your sphere.
True independence isn't a self-serving free-for-all. It is the power to follow established Law without interference - whether you are looking at nations or at individuals. And that is power indeed.
Tuesday, July 03, 2007
I've lately run across more than my share of folks who maintain, either explicitly or tacitly, that mothers shouldn't try to teach their sons anything after the age of about 12 or 13. They think that only fathers can have a positive impact on sons at that point. Many of them think that moms teaching teen boys is not only unproductive, it's ungodly.
As a homeschooling mom of a 14-yr-old son, this concerns me. Am I damaging my son by continuing to teach him? Will he fail to launch because he doesn't know how to be a man? Will he rebel or revile women because I've overstepped the bounds of godly womanhood? Am I dishonoring God?
I decided to put some of these questions to my son. We have a good relationship and can generally talk about anything.
Me: You know, a lot of people think that it's wrong for a mother to teach her son after he is older than about 13. What do you think?
Son: (snorts) Where do they get that? It's ridiculous! What's magic about 13?
Me: (surprised at the zest of the response) Well, they think that boys can't learn to be men if women are teaching them through their teen years. A lot of boys rebel against their mothers at that point.
Son: Mom, you're teaching me math and history! That has nothing to do with men and women. I learn skills and facts. I learn to respond well to women - OK, that's about learning to be a man, but a man doesn't necessarily have to show me that. I have to decide to respect my teacher whether that person is a man or a woman. What if my Dad doesn't know everything? He doesn't. And neither do you. If I only learn from one of you, I'm missing half of what I need to know.
Me: Well, what about spiritual things. Does it bother you to learn Bible or how to follow God from a woman? Women aren't supposed to teach men in church. Does it bother you when I initiate our morning family devotions?
Son: But, Mom, we aren't IN church! I like our family devotions. Besides, you usually ask me to read out the Scriptures and to lead in prayer. And when Dad is home, he's the one who leads family worship.
Me: Is there anything about becoming a man that you would not want to learn from a woman?
Son: (blushing) Well....there are a few things...You know...
Me: Right. Sure. I do know. But other than that?
Son: Other than that, I don't know what their problem is.
I love that boy!