My Day at School

I am a behavior problem.

I never dreamed I would be until I decided to go to school with my 14 year old son, Ammon, who took a few classes at a local charter school along with our daily homeschooling. I was interested in a pilot program class that he was involved in, and the teacher welcomed parents into the classroom, so I decided to go and observe. When I first arrived, I was alert and interested. After 45 minutes, my mind was seriously wandering.

The students who were giving oral reports were ill-prepared and were giving erroneous information speaking in monotone with their eyes glued to their notes. Students were walking to the front of the class next to the reporting student to noisily sharpen their pencils seemingly oblivious to the disturbance they were making. I found myself asking Ammon questions, whispering to him. He finally told me that he couldn’t concentrate well with me talking to him. Then I started to doodle. I raised my hand and answered questions in an effort to correct the misinformation and possibly change the subject to something more stimulating. I fished in my purse for something to eat. I fidgeted. I tried to engage students sitting by me by making little comments to them. I checked my watch continually. I even felt like making a paper airplane and sending it soaring. Okay, I was over the top. I was definitely being a behavior problem!

That was an “ah-ha!” moment for me! I’m a grandma and I have hopefully matured and gained greater self-control over the years. Here I was—I had only attended an hour of school—and I was going nut-sy. Having to sit still, listen, not talk, not leave my seat, be mentally bored and fatigued . . . well, it proved to be too great a challenge to me! I had to leave, after just one class. I couldn’t stand it! How do they do it all day long?

Children were meant to move and run and build things and use their big muscles. They were meant to have their eager minds fed and their curiosity satisfied. All that sitting, sitting, sitting gets extremely tedious! Dulls their minds, dulls their bodies. Think about what you are requiring your children to do when you consider sending them to school.

Nice reality check for me.

 

The Hand that Rocks the Cradle

 

 

 

 

 
 

Blessings on the hand of women!
Angels guard its strength and grace,
In the palace, cottage, hovel,
Oh, no matter where the place;
Would that never storms assailed it,
Rainbows ever gently curled;
For the hand that rocks the cradle
Is the hand that rules the world.

Infancy’s the tender fountain,
Power may with beauty flow,
Mother’s first to guide the streamlets,
From them souls unresting grow—
Grow on for the good or evil,
Sunshine streamed or evil hurled;
For the hand that rocks the cradle
Is the hand that rules the world.

Woman, how divine your mission
Here upon our natal sod!
Keep, oh, keep the young heart open
Always to the breath of God!
All true trophies of the ages
Are from mother-love impearled;
For the hand that rocks the cradle
Is the hand that rules the world.

Blessings on the hand of women!
Fathers, sons, and daughters cry,
And the sacred song is mingled
With the worship in the sky—
Mingles where no tempest darkens,
Rainbows evermore are hurled;
For the hand that rocks the cradle
Is the hand that rules the world.

William Ross Wallace (1819-1881)

The Singing House

by May Morgan Potter

 

Fred ate his breakfast dutifully and then slipped down from his chair.

“Now can I go over to Jimmy”s, mother?” he asked.

“But Fred,” I said, “you were over there yesterday and the day before. Why not have Jimmy come here today?”

“Oh, he wouldn”t want to.” Fred”s lip quivered in spite of his six years of manhood. “Please, mother.”

“Why do you like Jimmy”s house better than ours, son?” I pursued. It came to me suddenly that Fred and all his companions were always wanting to go to Jimmy”s house.

“Why,” he explained hesitantly, “it”s cause—it”s cause Jimmy’s house is a singing house.”

“A singing house?” I questioned. “Now what do you mean by that?”

“Well,” Fred was finding it hard to explain, “Jimmy’s mother hums when she sews; and Annie-in-the-kitchen, she sings when she cuts out cookies; and Jimmy’s daddy always whistles when he comes home.” Fred stopped a moment and added, “Their curtains are rolled clear up and there”s flowers in the windows. All the boys like Jimmy’s house, Mother.”

“You may go, son,” I said quickly. I wanted him out of the way so I could think.

I looked around my house. Everyone told me how lovely it was. There were oriental rugs. We were paying for them on installments. . . . We were paying for the overstuffed furniture and the car that way, also. Perhaps that was why Fred”s daddy didn”t whistle when he came in the house. . . .

I . . . went over to Jimmy’s house, even if it was ten o”clock and Saturday morning. It came to me that Mrs. Burton would not mind being interrupted in the middle of the morning. She never seemed to be in a hurry. She met me at the door with a towel around her head.

“Oh, come in. I have just finished cleaning the living room. No indeed, you are not interrupting. I”ll just take off this headdress and be right in.”

While I waited, I looked around. The rugs were almost threadbare; the curtains . . . tied back; the furniture, old and scarred. . . . A table with a bright cover held a number of late magazines. In the window were hanging baskets of ivy . . . , while a bird warbled from his cage hanging in the sun. Homey, that was the effect.

The kitchen door was open and I saw Jerry, the baby, sitting on the clean linoleum, watching Annie as she pinched together the edges of an apple pie. She was singing. . . .

Mrs. Burton came in smiling. “Well,” she asked, “what is it? For I know you came for something; you are such a busy woman.”

“Yes,” I said abruptly, “I came to see what a singing house is like.”

Mrs. Burton looked puzzled. “Why, what do you mean?”

“Fred says he loves to come here because you have a singing house. I begin to see what he means.”

“What a wonderful compliment!” Mrs. Burton”s face flushed. “But of course my house doesn”t compare with yours. Everyone says you have the loveliest house in town.”

“But it isn”t a singing house,” I objected. . . . “Tell me how you came to have one.”

“Well,” smiled Mrs. Burton, “if you really want to know. You see, John doesn”t make much. I don”t think he ever will. He isn”t the type. We have to cut somewhere, and we decided on non-essentials. . . . There are books, magazines, and music. . . . These are things the children can keep inside. They can”t be touched by fire or financial problems so we decided they were essentials. Of course good wholesome food is another essential. . . . The children”s clothes are very simple. . . . But when all these things are paid for, there doesn”t seem to be much left for rugs and furniture. . . . We don”t go into debt if we can avoid it. . . . however.  We are happy”, she concluded.

“I see,” I said thoughtfully. I looked over at Jerry and Fred in the corner. They had manufactured a train out of match boxes and were loading it with wheat. They were scattering it a good deal, but wheat is clean and wholesome.

I went home. My oriental rugs looked faded. I snapped my curtains to the top of the windows, but the light was subdued as it came through the silken draperies. . . . My house was not a singing house. I determined to make it sing.

 

A Work that Matters

Daniel Webster

 

If we work on marble, it will perish. If we work upon brass, time will efface it. If we rear temples, they will crumble into dust, but if we work upon immortal minds, and instill into them just principles, we are then engraving upon that tablet that which no time will efface but will brigthen and brighten to all eternity.

—Daniel Webster

Humility

 

My son Ammon helps with the cooking

 

“Father, where shall I work today?”
And my love flowed warm and free.
Then He pointed out a tiny spot
And said, “Tend that for me.”

I answered quickly, “Oh no, not that!
Why, no one would ever see,
No matter how well my work was done.
Not that little place for me.”

And the word He spoke, it was not stern;
He answered me tenderly;
“Ah, little one, search that heart of thine;
Art thou working for them or for me?

Nazareth was a little place, and so was Galilee.”

 

—Meade McGuire

Doing the Little Things He Asks You To

We are so busy as moms! It isn’t possible to do all that our children ask us to do. I heard this heart-stirring poem when I had 3 little rambunctious boys that kept me busy morning ’til night. It made me want to slow down and listen to their little requests to “look at me, Mom!” It made me want to read the stories and play with them more. Now that my sons are grown, I have discovered how true this poem is! Take a moment right now, if you can, and “do the little things he asks you to”. You won’t regret it!

 

My sons: Daniel (5), Mark (1) and Nathan (3)

To My Grown-Up Son


My hands were busy through the day,

I didn’t have much time to play

 

The little games you asked me to.

I didn’t have much time for you.

 

I’d wash your clothes, I’d sew and cook,

But when you’d bring your picture book

 

And ask me, please, to share your fun,

I’d say, “A little later, Son.”

 

I’d tuck you in all safe at night,

And hear your prayers, turn out the light,

 

Then tiptoe softly to the door.

I wish I’d stayed a minute more.

 

For life is short, and years rush past,

A little boy grows up so fast.

 

No longer is he at your side.

His precious secrets to confide.

 

The picture books are put away,

There are no children’s games to play,

 

No good-night kiss, no prayers to hear.

That all belongs to yesteryear.

 

My hands once busy, now lie still

The days are long and hard to fill.

 

I wish I might go back and do

The little things you asked me to.

—Alice E. Chase

 

My grown-up sons now: Ammon, Daniel, Nathan, and Mark

The King of Me

Self-control is so sorely lacking in our society! Troubles caused by lack of self-discipline range from littering to illegitimate babies to college shootings. We must start very young in teaching our little children to master themselves. They can never call God “Master” until they can call themselves the “King of Me”.

“The Bible teaches us to discipline our children and to love them. These are not opposites. They blend together. Loving discipline will grow in the child into self-discipline. And that is a prerequisite for the life of learning we hope he will lead.” (Ruth Beechick)

It starts by learning to obey Mommy when a child is not yet even able to talk. Teach your children that they must learn to be masters of their bodies and their minds. Coming first time when mother calls, sticking with a chore, not eating candy until after mealtime, saying “please” and “thank you”, or sitting quietly in church and during family devotional are all good practice. They really can learn to do it, little by little!

I like my little ones to memorize this clever poem to remind them who is really in charge! Making a paper crown with the words “King of Me” on it is a good reminder too.  You’ll realize great benefits by teaching your child to govern himself!

King of Me

I said to my feet, “Keep still!”
I said to my hands, “Just stay!”
I said to my all-over-everywhere self,
“I’m in charge of you today!”
I’m ruler of my mouth,
And I’m the “King of Me”
So when I tell me it’s quiet time,
I’m quiet as can be! 

 

 

 

 

Mama's Boy

This very old story is one of my favorites and I’ve kept it and re-read it from time to time to help me remember to see life through my children’s eyes, and to never forget the power of a mother in the home.   —Diane

Tommy began to get the feeling even before Billy punched him in the ribs. It was afternoon, and Miss Deering was putting number work on the blackboard.

“Lookee here,” Billy said, displaying a small, plastic jeep, shining new, from the top of his pocket.

Tommy looked at it with interest, wishing he could have one just like it.

“And lookee here,” said Billy, showing a bright top and a sack of marbles, still in their red mesh bag. They were beautiful marbles of clear, polished glass, and caught the light in small pools of blue, yellow, crystal, and red. Tommy’s fingers wanted to touch them, but he didn’t reach out. Billy always had new things—new pencils, new erasers, and new toys.

“Where’dja get them?” Tommy asked.

Glancing around, Billy leaned closer. “Come with me down to the five-and-ten after school, and we’ll get you some.”

“I haven’t any money,” said Tommy.

“Don’t need money. You just take them. I’ll show you how.”

“That would be stealing.”

“Naw! All the kids do it. They got lots of stuff down there.”

“I don’t want to. My mother wouldn’t want me to,” said Tommy.

“Yah! Ha! Mama’s Boy,” jeered Billy, forgetting not to whisper loud.

Miss Deering looked at them, which meant not to disturb the class.

When Tommy tried to be still the feeling came stronger and stronger. He looked out the window, but that didn’t help. Only there was dirty snow and black smoke and chimneys and ugly brick walls. It wasn’t like Still Valley where you could see the foothills, except for the cottonwoods along the creek bed.

All these things crowded in on Tommy until he couldn’t stand it—even the things in the room, the wigwams and the green trees and the reared-back Indians that the second graders had painted on wrapping paper with poster paint. All at once Tommy had to get out, or he was going to bawl. He had to see mother.

Miss Deering’s voice reached out to stop him when he left his seat and went toward the door, but he went right through the sound like wading the little canal when the current was swift. Sometimes she just let him go, but today she followed him out to the hallway where he was putting on his galoshes.

“Tommy, come back,” she said. “You know it won’t do any good to go home. Your mother won’t be there until five. Why won’t you stay until school is out?”

Tommy didn’t answer, just went on fastening his galoshes.

“Don’t you want to be promoted? If you keep going home every day in the middle of the class period you will not learn all you should. You will have to stay in the second grade a long time, and people will think you are dumb!”

Still Tommy didn’t answer. It was just words that the teacher was saying. The sound of her voice beat up in his ears in waves, like irrigation water backing up against a dam. She put her hand on his shoulder, but he wriggled free and ran out the door and down the steps.

Maybe mother would have a headache and would have sick leave, like she did one Saturday, when she was home all day. She pulled him in bed with her and he was warm and comfortable, almost like being in Still Valley again.

It was nice there, especially in summer when the cottonwoods floated gauzy seed pods down, and when you could lie on your stomach on the bridge and fish for pretty rocks, or look into the glassy water until you could see yourself speeding upstream.

Mother’s fingers were sometimes butter-sugary from making cake, and you could lick the bowl. You could go with her to see if the setting hen had stolen her nest in the woodpile. Mother knew why a four-leaf clover had four leaves, and where God was, and why the old sow grunted instead of talking.

“Heavenly Father, make mother have a headache,” he prayed as he went along, and then almost skipped. He almost remembered that she had been sick a little before she went to work. He was sure she would be home this time.

But mother didn’t have a headache, and she wasn’t home. The furniture was there—the new pink davenport and the overstuffed chairs that you couldn’t put your feet on, but the house was empty. Tommy ran through it shouting: “Mother! Mother!” so loud his ears rang when he quit, but there was no answer.

The little hand on the clock was between two and three, so Tommy took it down off the shelf and sat with it between his knees on the living-room floor, because the kitchen had cold breakfast dishes on the table, and the beds looked like old hens at molting time, and the bathroom had damp towels on the floor.

Tommy waited and waited and cried awhile because he thought she might not come at all, and it seemed like a million years until the little hand was on five and she opened the door.

“Mommy!” he said, and was so dazzled he couldn’t tell what she looked like.

“Tommy Haran!” she said, snatching the clock from him. “If you break my alarm, I’ll never get to work!”

It was then that he noticed the two straight marks between her eyebrows, and that her hair was tight in little iron curls and her mouth was sticky with red stuff she used to “keep herself up.”

When she saw that he sat so still and that his mouth was dumb with the lump in his throat, she hugged him and said: “I’m sorry.” She even smiled, but her face was like the apartment when he came home. Her features were there, like the furniture, but she was gone.

“We have to hurry now—get the house cleaned, supper and to bed with you. Mother’s having company—some of the girls from the plant.”

“I don’t want them,” said Tommy. “Call them up and tell them not to come.”

“Why, Tommy! That wouldn’t be polite. Besides, this is your daddy’s last night on swing shift, and he’ll be home evenings after this.”

They weren’t girls, though, when they came. They were big ladies, like mother, and they sat in mother’s living room and laughed and all talked at once, and sounded like the pullets when you jumped suddenly into the coop and said “Boo!” Tommy was shut in the bedroom and he still wanted his mother.

“Mother! Mother!” he shouted until the cackling all stopped, and mother came through the slit of light from the opened door. “There’s a Tiger in the closet,” he said, so she left the door open a little crack, and said “nonsense.”

“Children are certainly a headache,” she said when she went back to the living room. Maybe Heavenly Father had answered his prayers.

“Tommy’s always been such a mama’s boy,” she went on, and Tommy, hearing her, wiggled with shame. “You know he gets so homesick for me he just gets up and leaves the schoolroom every day. Just like that—nobody can stop him.” They all cackled again.

“His father wants me to quit work and stay home,” his mother continued.

“That would be a mistake,” said a lady, and her voice sounded like she thought she was smart. “He’ll have a mother complex if you don’t look out.”

“That’s what I think,” agreed his mother. “Besides, I want to get a few things.”

“Do you think you’ll go back to the farm after the war?”

Tommy held his breath, listening.

“I’ll say not! Never a new thing, and nothing but work! I didn’t know how bad it was until we moved. I finished paying for my overstuffed last pay day. Now I want to get two tables and two blue lamps—”

Tommy’s stomach hurt with disappointment, and he cried a little because he couldn’t remember what his mother looked like with her hair loose and her eyes soft, but the next day he didn’t come home. When the feeling came, he chewed his pencil and thought fast about the blue lamps and about her thinking he was a mama’s boy.

And after school he went with Billy down to the five-and-ten.

 

— Alice Moore Bailey

Chivalry, It's Up to Us!

My daughter Emily (17) came home from high school thoroughly disgusted. Emily is a very upbeat, happy spirit and she loves everybody and everything, so it shocked me to see her upset. She only attends 2 classes at our local charter school, and is very studious and diligent in her homeschool assignments. She tells me regularly that she loves homeschooling best, which brings me great delight!

Anyway, Emily was upset. Turns out that she had to go to a Senior Graduation meeting and when she arrived at the building, the boys didn’t think to open her door, but just walked in, in front of her, letting the door slam in her face. As she got to the classroom for the meeting, the seats were all taken—by boys! Many girls stood through the long meeting, and the big, strong football players lounged in the chairs without even a glint of recognition on their faces.

“Where are the mothers?” is always my war-cry! It takes mothers (and fathers) teaching kids to be respectful and mannerly, and if moms are occupied otherwise, the whole generation suffers from a plague of rudeness!

The next time Emily was summoned to a Senior Graduation meeting, the teacher had written on the chalkboard, “Boys: Give Up Your Seats”. She was a rather old-fashioned teacher, and apparently it had bothered her too. But, even with the posted notice, the boys did not all give up their seats. But the big surprise was that there were enough who did that there were empty seats in the classroom. There were also girls standing, who refused to sit down. (What!????)

How can boys possibly learn to be chilvarous if girls will not even allow them? How did this gentlemanly thing go so hay-wire?

Moms, Dads: it is up to us! Let’s teach our boys that someone female will bear their children someday and make a family for them to be loved by, and to come home to, and to work for, and to give their life meaning. Please, let’s teach our girls that boys honor that someday possibility by treating the whole feminine gender with respect and kind consideration, and to shun it is to do themselves (and other women and girls) a disservice.

Rudeness doesn’t have to be the order of the day. It is all in the hands of parents—what we model, what we teach, what we expect.

 

Everyone Homeschools

My oldest son, Daniel, and his wife Melissa had their third child yesterday! It’s a boy—our first grandson! What a miracle occurs when every child is born. And how obvious and apparent it is that this little blossom of heaven is a student from his very first breath!

“When did you start homeschooling?” seems to be a common question asked of those who do not opt to send their children away from the home daily. I have often been termpted to reply, “And when did you stop homeschooling?” Because every single child is a student of his parents. From the first day, our little ones strive to copy us. Their daily work is to learn and parents are their mentors, teachers and exemplars. God ordained it so. They try to do what we do. They learn to see life as we see it. They are our little “clones” in many ways, whether for good or for ill.

When I was a little girl, you could buy candy cigarettes. These were actually sticks of bubble gum wrapped in white paper lined up in a cigarette-looking pack. They were really a theater prop as my sister and I acted out the part of the pretty ladies we saw on television (and our own dad), as we puffed and inhaled and ashed our cigarettes and acted sophisticated. I’m glad those horrible things are off the market! We didn’t know any better, but it still makes me cringe to think of it! We were just children, just students copying what was modeled for us.

So, to the question, “When did you start homeschooling?”, I would like to reply: every mother homeschools every child! She is the teacher for her baby, her toddler, her preschooler, her child. She lovingly teaches them the essentials, such as how to dress and feed themselves, how to identify good food, how to care for their body, how to get along with others, how to avoid danger, how to worship God, and many other basic skills. This full-time education can continue until they are grown and able to act like an adult in many ways (teens), or it can be partly turned over to other teachers at age 5 if desired. And our little ones, with such a desire to please us, comply and adapt to whatever their beloved parents expect—even long hours away from the safety and love of the family circle. It’s amazing how we as adults perceive going to preschool or kindergarten as “fun”! My childhood memories don’t always support that. Nor do the tears that are frequently part of the first day of school, both for the mom and the 5-year-old.

I remember when I began homeschooling my second son.  My first son—who was an excellent student at the local public school—balked!

“Why can’t I homeschool?” he pleaded.

“Would you even want to?” I asked, surprised.  ” I thought you liked school!’

“That’s because there wasn’t any other choice”, he replied.

That got me thinking.  Without options, children adapt.

Moms and Dads choose when to stop homeschooling, when to turn over the reigns to someone else. Let’s make sure that it is a wise and well-prayed over decision.