Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Lessons in Proper Subjects to be Poetically Inspired By

(A tale of yesterday's playtime)

Annah and Jesse played outside all afternoon.  They've even utilized the hose while continuing to appear before me with less and less clothing.

In Composition Jesse and I have been working on poetry.  He's been working on figurative language, descriptive language, similes and metaphors, and he has not been loving it.  This afternoon, the sun must have provided nutrients to his depleted creative self.

Annah came storming inside, bawling.  Jesse was following her, sheepishly, "I'm sorry Annah it isn't BAD".  The fire that shot out of her eyes in his direction said that "Yes, yes it was bad".  Wondering what had changed two kids playing peacefully outside, enjoying the sun and interesting creatures it lures out of hiding; I tried to gain understanding, "What happened?".  Through tears and red hot anger she pointed to her brother and said, "HE said, 'Annah, you're as pale as a dead old man'".  Giggles erupting around me, I tried to soothe my poor daughter's hurt feelers.  "Annah, when I was little, my mom's uncle used to ask my mom, 'What's wrong with that girl?  Is she sick or something?  She's pale as a ghost!'"  (Or, maybe he said Michael Jackson.. I can't remember if according to him it was my nose or skin tone that was Jackson-esque). (not to be confused with my mother's side of the family Jackson-esque qualities)  "Your skin is beautiful and looks like mine." Empathy did the trick and she was able to quit crying, feeling not so alone in her paleness.

I told her brother he should leave his poetry in the classroom for now, and encouraged him toward the belief that a woman's pale skin is a sign of leading a refined life... as I nodded toward my pale offspring wearing a spaghetti strap tank and boxers, drenched from playing in the hose in February.  Refined indeed.

I oversaw the "apology ceremony" and encouraged the two to return to the beautiful, sunshine filled outside.. minutes before the temperature dropped, the sky darkened and pellets of hail began to fall causing another wardrobe change including snow boots and gloves.  They were back to playing, back to enjoying the ever changing out of doors together.  I wonder what inspiration will come from this round of play?

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Predicting the Changing Seasons isn't Just for Groundhogs!

"Mom!  It's almost summertime!"

Our internet pooped out on us about noon today.  I took that as a sign that it was time to feed the rascals, and they dropped their pencils and headed out into the sunshine!  A few minutes later, Jesse and Annah came back in, shoe-less looking for footwear.  Annah told me excitedly that it was indeed almost summetime, "It's SO warm outside!"

A few minutes after they returned outside, she came back in.  "Mo-om!  Look, I told you it was almost summertime.  Look what I found out there, a lady bug!"  She wandered around talking to her new found friend and came back asking, "Do you have something for me to hold Lady in?"  I'd already recycled the glass tomato sauce bottles from the weekend, and so offered her a rinsed out tuna can.  I figured Lady stood a better chance of survival if her option to leave was left open.

Annah ran outside, got some grass and brought Lady's new home in to show me.  She then said, speaking to Lady, "Here's the deal, you can crawl on my arm AFTER you do your household chores.  Clean your room!  Good job!  Oh!  Are you limping?"  (I bet she is!)  "You're such a good little creature!  Let's go outside."

They've had their lunch and Jesse brought in his find,,, not as loveable as Lady, his name is Hiss.
Annah continues to talk to Lady.. they seem to be bonding quickly.

"I should clip your wings.... OH!  You little scamp! (pause)  He's a Christian, he keeps bowing to God."

She is a wonder this bug whisperer child I'm raising.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

We're Dropping Like Flies.. Most of Us

I had a little bird
It's name was Enza
I opened the window
And in-flu-Enza

I remember learning this little poem while in Victoria BC with my parents on "holiday" the summer before I married.  We visited some historic village type place.  It was centered around some famous person I don't remember the name of.  They had all sorts of "fun" facts about songs we sing or sayings we use that came from rather morbid roots.  Like the nursery rhyme "Ring a-round the Rosie"  Morbid indeed.  

I don't know when exactly we opened the window, but Enza definitely has flown in.  We've fought tooth and nail, with vitamins and lozenges and teas, and yet slowly by slowly, we're dropping like flies.  

We girls seem to have had it the worst so far.  Although, today Ethan is in bed with body aches.  And, though he is still in denial, Bruce started sniffling and sneezing yesterday.  

The only one who seems to be immune to Enza's ill affects, is Jesse.   I am puzzled by this.  The boy does everything wrong.. or right to get sick.  He spends countless hours outside in the dreary weather, jacket-less and touching all manner of dig-scusting things.  Three out of four meal times, I realize post meal that his hands are covered in grime and his nails look rather Gollum-esque.  He is the one I have to remind to shower.   The one I have to remind that once you shower, you change your undergarments.  Why?  Why is this dirt loving Pig Pen wanna be the only one who isn't sick?  It's not like the rest of us are germaphobic, instant hand sanitizing Nazis.  We all take the same vitamins.  We all live in the same non-neurotic "clean" house.  

I'm reminded of another history lesson I had.  When we were first married, Bruce befriended an adorable elderly couple.  They were both in their nineties and died before Annah was born.  He was Russian, had lived through the Russian revolution and told stories of the horror and meager living circumstances surrounding the Russian people of that time.  She was Dutch and never spoke of her homeland.  Although, she did tell us about that one day she was working as a clerk in a skyscraper and watched the Hindenburg go down in flames.  Amazing story tellers they were.  Anyway, he told us that while he and his sister were in hiding, making their way through the Black Forest with their Grandmother, they had little to no food.  Sometimes, if they were lucky, they'd have a potato to share amongst their little group of travelers.  When they weren't so lucky, Grandma would make soup.  She'd boil roots, grasses, and ROCKS.  They would suck up the nutrient rich broth, and that would sustain them through the cold, wretched wandering they had to endure to come to freedom.  

Maybe, just maybe Jesse is more nutrient rich because he touches all of that stuff outside and by not washing ingests some bacteria fighting goodness God put in creation all around us.  Whatever his secret to staying healthy is, I'm certain it isn't something his cleaner family is going to figure out in the near future.  

Monday, February 11, 2013

The Day I Lost it in Costco or The Day I Got Super Nanny in Trouble

As I mentioned, there has been some fire in my life.  This has led to some emotional days.  Some emotional subjects, and some emotional outbursts.  The latest one was, sadly, in a very public setting.

The children and I were grocery shopping at Costco.  We'd gone to the Asian food store that morning, then ran to the mall to exchange some recent ill fitting purchases, then to the bank to open a savings account for my oldest (only to realize that, duh, she needs her ss# with her!), then BACK to the mall to have lunch with my husband, and finally to Costco.  By this time, we were all a little tired of running around as a group in public.  I was having to repeat my famous line, "walk behind me in a row, not around me like a crowd".  Trying to get 4 kids, no matter how well behaved, through the tangled web of people at Costco is always a chore.

My children LOVE that Costco has samples, as do many adults I know.  I abhor them.  They cause traffic jams and make me feel guilty about eating an advertisement and then not buying the product.  Thus, my children have to ask before taking samples and even with that permission tend to feel a bit guilty about it.  Did I mention we'd JUST ate lunch?  Another reason I dislike the sample gallery.  I tend to eat things when I'm not hungry if they're offered to me.. I need a "no soliciting" t-shirt while walking through there!!

Any-who, we had made it through produce, deli, and were into the frozen foods section, the "gauntlet" of samplers and shoppers.  I'd said yes to some samples, no to others.  We came up behind a woman sampling egg rolls and on the other side of the aisle, a man was sampling some other food.  Their tables made a narrowed aisle so I asked Naomi to go in front of the woman's table and grab a different package of spring rolls than the indigestion inducing egg rolls the woman was sampling.  I received a text from my friend about our running date that was in about an hour, and was replying and told the other kids that yes, they may sample the egg rolls from the woman in front of me.  She did a lovely job of announcing her product, British accent and all.  I was texting, Na came back with the spring rolls, I had the kids get "behind" me, and we began making our way through the little aisle space between the two tables.  As we were passing, I happened to see one of my kids swipe a second sample off of the tray.  We continued walking and I pulled that child up and was correcting their swipery when all of a sudden I hear from behind in a crisp, clear, beautiful English accent, "Not ONE of those children said thank you!".  By this time we were about 15ft from her sampling table.  (I'm shaking again just typing this and it was three days ago!)

I turned around, walked back to her table and said shakily, "If you have a problem with my children, I'd appreciate you talking about it to me, instead of announcing it to the rest of your customers!".  She proceeded to argue that she hadn't announced anything.  When I repeated her words she again argued that she wasn't telling the customers. I replied telling her how far from her table I was when I heard her exclamation of my children's lack of manners.  She followed that with, "Well, I try and provide a service with manners and appreciate it when customers reply with manners."

About this time is when I think I went from shaking over confronting someone to realizing I was being watched by everyone around me and in the middle of an argument with a store employee.  I began to tear up not only due to embarrassment, but the overwhelming feeling that this woman has no idea who I am, how I train my children, or how much of my life is spent doing just that.  For goodness sake, it was 2 in the afternoon on a weekday and I was dragging 4 obviously school age children through a crowded grocery store.  Because, I feel it is MY job to train and educate my children and not someone else's.

Trying to hold back the tears, I continued the argument.  "I train my children to have manners.  However, they ARE children, and they don't always remember them.  I'm sorry they didn't say 'thank you' however,  I don't appreciate your telling the rest of the store that I am not doing my job."  And.. the tears began to fall.  At this point a crack appeared in the glossy veneer of this woman's stone face and she said, "I'm sorry if I insulted you.  Thank you for training your children, good job and keep it up!"  Ya, about four arguments too late she listened to me and saw that she had indeed crossed a boundary that was inappropriate for a food sampler to cross.  Her job is to offer samples to sell product for her employer, not correct ill mannered children through humiliation.

Through my tears I said a final, "You never know what people are going through and you should try and be more understanding."  Then turned, gathered my chicks and walked a few aisles away where I cried and snotted and told my kids that though they knew they should've said thank you, this situation wasn't their fault.  We made our way to the front of the store picking up the few other groceries we were in need of, and by the time we got to the registers I was back to simply shaking uncontrollably.  I asked to speak to a manager and told him what had happened back at the "egg roll sampling table" with the woman with the British accent.  As  I repeated through more tears, "she doesn't know what people are going through, I am trying my best here".. he stopped me, "Put it out of your mind, it wasn't her place."  He then turned and headed back to talk with Super Nanny.

I paid for my groceries and put my glasses on so my favorite receipt checker, Teddy, wouldn't see me crying and we headed to the car.  My children thanking me for every thing they could think to say thank you for.

I've struggled with whether confronting this woman was the proper thing to do.  Was I being proud?  Was I doing what I accused her of, not thinking about what other people are going through and jumping on them for offending my own code of ethics?  Perhaps she too is going through a rough patch and feels unappreciated (under-de-me-see-ated if you've ever seen Bedtime Stories).  I've asked God to show me how to be more gracious toward those who offend my sensibilities, or attack my children for something that I harp on them about day in and day out.  I see that I went into confronting her "protecting my children" but was really protecting my place as trainer of those children.  Lord help me to be humble, help me to walk in the grace you extend me for offending your sensibilities daily.  May I view others as you view them and not simply see the wear and tear that this life has caused.

I encourage you reader, try and view others not through the lens of who you aim to be, but who've been.  You never know what someone else is going through to cause them to act the way they do.

Friday, February 1, 2013

A Child's View of a Teacher

We've been homeschooling for 3yrs.  My youngest has always been homeschooled, and her brother above her went to just kindergarten at a brick and mortar school.  You would think that I pulled them recently listening to the conversation they had in the car yesterday.

There was a woman with a suitcase walking on the side of the road where we were sitting waiting for traffic to clear from an accident ahead of us.  Annah said, "Look!  That lady is a hobo."  Jesse, obviously irritated with his younger sibling's inaccurate judgement of this woman's residential status replied, "Annah.  Look at her.  She's not a hobo.  She's too pretty to be a hobo.  That's my teacher from kindergarten, Mrs. Kammerzel"  Obviously, one's residential status is dependent on one's beauty.  Annah, trying to prove her memory to be as strong as her big brother's, "Oh right!".  Jesse must have looked closer at the lady because he decided that this woman, though definitely not a hobo, was also not Mrs. Kammerzel.  "That's not Mrs. Kammerzel, she was prettier, like Mrs (insert one of his friend's mom's names).  No, she was even prettier, like Mrs. Knudson."  Annah and he both agreed that she was indeed so beautiful as to not only make it impossible for her to ever be a hobo, but to surpass the friend's mom and reach the same level of beauty as,,, Mrs. Knudson.  Mrs. Knudson is their teacher at their new co-op type school this year.  She is indeed beautiful, and a fantastic addition to our schooling experience! But, she looks NOTHING like Mrs. Kammerzel who was.. a mousy little woman with little patience for Jesse and ultimately, one of the major reasons I pulled him from brick and mortar school.

Why does this precious jewel of a boy have such fond memories of a woman who didn't have the patience to  properly learn his needs and teach him in a fashion that would help him grasp the information.  This woman who told the rest of the class, "Ignore Jesse.  He can't focus, and so we are just going to ignore him." ???  I honestly don't understand it, but I pray that it isn't something lost in his recollection of me and that my shortcomings as mother and teacher will not be what he remembers.  I pray that instead of memories of all of my warts, he'll see me as lovely because he's looking at me through my love for him.

After sitting and thinking on how much his two teachers looked alike, he added, "She looked just like Mrs. Knudson, except her nose had freckles on it.. it was really cute."  Oh, how he melts my heart!