After years of trying to get back on track (and pay off our debt) this is apparently the year of fixing. Fixing the car, fixing our health, replacing things that can’t be fixed, just plain getting things back in order.
Shamus has gotten a benign cyst that I was sure was a unicorn horn starting on his forehead.
Rachel has been diagnosed with moderate hearing loss . She has cheap over-the-counter hearing aids that rub but which help enough that she willing wears them anyway. Our goal is to be able to get her a pair of digital ones (including bluetooth for music, phone, computer) BEFORE she moves out in the next year.
New glasses for Es and I – much needed, including reading glasses for me. This would make me feel old except that I have needed reading glasses off and on since I was 18.
Replaced dead Wii with Wii U.
New sewing machine to replace multiple dead or nearly dead old ones.
Full glaucoma workup for both Shamus and Es because apparently there is weird eye stuff running in that side of the family.
Get Rach in to doctor for proper inhaler script, permission to get hearing aids (because the FDA is weird), and get her driver’s permit physical.
Get car doors fixed- our car has issues. Every door has something wrong with it, 2 don’t open at all, one only opens from out outside, one only opens from inside and one works but has a broken bit so you have to open it just so.
Get Rach decent digital hearing aids that suit her needs. Preferably ones with bluetooth that can be adjusted from her phone and can be used with bluetooth so she can easily do what she does, like talk on Skype, listen to music, watch movies.
Get a good printer for printing art so the girls and I can, you know, print our art.
I am sure there is more that I have forgotten.
Lots of general stuff going on:
Rach graduating and moving out (soon).
Rach working on independent study of art and possibly video game design and programming.
Me working on the book illustrations, working full time, and working on several websites.
Es working as content manager for a website.
Es designing and creating a video game.
Es writing a webcomic.
Issac doing his thing (mostly video games, Lego, and hanging out online with friends while growing and eating and growing some more.
Shamus writing, writing, writing, working on Good Robot, writing some more, doing Spoiler Warning and the podcast and writing some more.
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We moved in the fall (that is a huge story that eventually I will tell, when I have time, and words). Es started volunteering at the library. Rach got a job, then lost it due to age restrictions (company policy vs store policy.)
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The kids are all teens now, and wonderful, awesome, brilliant, fun to be around, and all busy with their own stuff. I don’t post things about them unless they give permission (never have) and now they are older and more private about their stuff and well, I have less to share. We have several new projects we are working on as a family.
Life as we know it is swirling and changing and adapting. I go from times when the kids want all my attention and it is a swirl of activity to times where no one is around– all asleep, or busy with their personal projects, or talking to friends.
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My own projects go in spurts. In this season they often get set aside to talk out personal issues with the kids, discuss how somethign works or why, or how people work or think or why people can be dumb sometimes.
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Our big current project – the kids and I (I’ll let Shamus share his own as he sees fit) is body butters. (For sale here: https://www.etsy.com/shop/SeriouslySimpleStuff) They are fun to make and pretty and the kids love them as much as I do.
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And there is more happening but I will leave it for now. Life is beautiful, and fun, and wonderful. We have a new warm, safe place to live that is everything we could have asked for, if we had thought to do so. This season with teens is absolutely awesome.
I am having a hard time posting this. It feels pointless and kind of more personal than I usually get here. Plus I try to avoid talking about other people outside of my immediate family because well, this stuff is their business not mine but here I kind of do, in a round about way, and it feels weird. But I am going to post it anyway, because, there it is.
I turn 40 this year (not until August but I am pondering right now). I have multiple other friends who are also turning 40 (which is very funny for a girl who never had friends her own age to suddenly have friends her own age). There has been much chatter among us about bucket lists, things we wish we had done, things we want to do. So of course that got me pondering my own stuff.
The thing is I am happy in my life. There isn’t anything awesome I have always wanted to do. There isn’t anything I haven’t already gone and done if I wanted to. There isn’t any class I would like to take, thing I would like to learn. There aren’t any new hairstyles, clothing styles, tattoo, piercings, what-have-you that I want to try that I haven’t already. (Nope, not interested in tattoos though I enjoy seeing them on others, I have all the piercings I want and don’t even use those, I love seeing other people with dreads but just thinking about having them makes my head itchy and gives me a headache, and I already dress and wear my hair exactly how I like it.) The only thing I plan to do, I hope to do, is pay off my college loan and travel more in the future but I want to pay off that pesky loan first, which I am working on. Otherwise I am happy with my life. I like where I am, who I am, what I am. So, thinking about turning 40 and where I am and where I am going I am also pondering where I have been and I realize that sometimes I forget.
Sometimes I forget where I came from. I forget the experiences that brought me to where I am now.
A lot of it I choose to forget.
Fourteen year old me was a naive idiot who was also slightly boy crazy and a stalker. She was best friends with a cheerleader and a book geek who was smarter than me, way smarter (she is now a college professor) and was always fighting with one of them. She had several friends that were boys (the only ones she could talk to- was afraid of talking to anyone else and didn’t realize till years later that they had crushes on her. She began her battle with Rheumatoid arthritis, crawling to the shower every morning hoping that by the end she would be able to stand up and then walk.
Sixteen year old me thought being skinny was more important than life and battled anorexia and bulimia. She dated a sweet guy, cheated on him with another guy who was less sweet, then dumped him right before prom (which is where Shamus and I got started).
Seventeen year old me thought it romantic to say I didn’t want to get married because I hoped I would die in an auto accident before I was 21. She fought depression, chopped off all her hair, quit wearing makeup, decided she had had way too much of trying to be like anyone else. She was the girl who thought she was crazy. Really. Till she got a hold of Myer’s Briggs/Kersey Temperament sorter and realized no, just had a unique personality, only 1% of the population. She years later would find out that her brother’s female friends looked up to her and thought she was the coolest thing since sliced bread.
Eighteen through 21 year old me was in college, hung out in the library stacks or in the art department, had a series of good friends ranging from an older student who was lovely, sweet and said hi to me everyday until I finally responded then invited me to hang out with her almost daily- I would love to see what she is up to now…but I can only remember her first name because I suck and had a horrible memory back then, a gay drug dealer who was the sweetest guy I ever met, a guy who had a wall of porn on the back of his door who offered to beat up any guy who treated me wrong but was definitely not interested in me as a girl, a girl who was so extroverted that she couldn’t stand to be alone, ever, a 50 year old hippy dude who probably hung around me because he assumed from the way I dressed and behaved (ditz anyone?) I could probably get him some weed, a fun-loving art chick who did her best to sleep around with every guy she could because she was getting married soon and didn’t want to cheat on him (he reminded me of the jerk fiance from The Wedding Singer), a wonderful British black chick who happened to be an orphan and hated being called African American because “I am BRITISH and I am BLACK.” Managed to destroy that friendship in one night when I went on an anti-abortion tirade only to find out she had had 2 and had never told anyone.
I dated a series of guys including a D&D geek who also larped (boy do I wish I hadn’t dated him and had just gone along for a game – because awesome), 2 guys that were 9 years older than me- 1 a Star Trek geek geologist and 1 an art geek who had a hippy bus and smoked weed, and Shamus, who I dated off and on because I was an idiot and didn’t know how awesome I had it with him. I also got hit on by a lesbian (didn’t know it. My friends had to take me aside and explain things to me later that night), hung around a lot of people who smoked pot and drank and never once tried either and generally didn’t realize they even did, went to my one and only party and thought it remarkably dumb- probably because I didn’t drink or smoke, had ramen for the first time ever, took a bus for the first time, spent 3 months in Poland, lost my passport, all my money, and my id in one go by leaving it in a cab in Poland, had a creepy stalker that I had to call the police about, worked as nanny for 6 kids, learned to metal smith, discovered that I don’t enjoy pottery making, found out that that problem with the weird missing chemical that meant cold medicines didn’t work also meant wonderful drugs like Xanax don’t work, discovered that I knew more than my professors in the classes I was interested in- that was super disappointing – pay for a class then be asked to help teach it- um, no, and spent a lot of time with my nose in a book unrelated to my actual studies.
I hate thinking about it because I hate thinking about how foolish I was. Really. I hate who I was. That girl was whiny, a compulsive liar, went through a huge bought of depression including lists of how to commit suicide (never tried any- I am a wimp), had no problem cheating on her boyfriend, was scared to talk to people (unless they talked to her first, then couldn’t shut up), and had a huge case of “poor me”. There is a reason I try to forget her.
Sometimes we forget on purpose. But in the process we forget part of what made us who we are now. I hate lying passionately because I used to lie constantly. I hate hanging around whiny complainers because that is what I used to be. But the people? I wonder about them. Where are they now. Who are they now? They are probably all out there somewhere and I wonder. I don’t really want to hang out with any of them, except maybe cheerful neighbor girl and awesome British art chick, but the rest, nah. But I wonder.
I also forget the other people. I have had a lot of friends who, when we quit seeing eye to eye, when they found out that even though we agree on these things we really disagree on that thing drifted off or just plain left, some I just drifted away from as our lives took us different directions, some just put up with me until they couldn’t any more, some were genuine friends until we couldn’t be for one reason or another… all those people. I wonder about them. Some were more mature than I was, just couldn’t get through to me and finally realized I just wasn’t ready for what they were advising me and moved out of the way. I wonder how many I drove crazy with my whining and complaining (didn’t stop that till my late 20’s- blech. I feel bad for anyone who was near me during that time because I was high maintenance.)
Sometimes I forget about all of them, because I am busy trying to forget who I was. I don’t want to remember. I don’t want to think of the people I hurt with my words, with my actions, with my behaviors, with my constant complaining about my life and my husband. And I did. It was horrible. It nearly destroyed my marriage. I know now but I didn’t then. And in forgetting I forget how I got here. What changed and how and what God did and how amazing it was.
Sometimes I forget how He removed my fear. I forget how He very clearly and deliberately removed my lying. My worry. My complaining. I think that last took the longest, because not only did I have to change my behavior but I also had to heal the relationships my complaining had damaged. I had to learn to encourage, to be gentle, to be kind. I had to learn to love. It was hard. I didn’t love His people. I couldn’t stand them. I hated people and all their quirks and how they called me weird all the time. How they looked down on my point of view, discounted it because I didn’t see the world they did. I hated it. I hated them.
Sometimes I forget all that and start to slide back into that place. I start whining about things, complaining, getting irritated at this or that, or realizing I have been cranky instead of compassionate. I don’t have it all together but I do have to guard against falling back into the old habits He eradicated, and to do that I have to remember.
Sometimes I forget that I spent years praying that God would give me love for his people. Praying for peace. And wisdom. And discernment. Because I didn’t have those things. I just had fear and worry and whining and complaining and foolishness, even after He removed the lying. And slowly. Surely. He removed them. One by one. He removed that stuff and I go and forget.
Nowadays sometimes I forget that everyone is dealing with things I may know little to nothing about. Things that aren’t even on my radar but have been in the past. I am surprised when someone talks about gambling, or going to a bar, or watching a ball game, or some problem at church, or their flavor of politics because those things usually don’t come up. Those things aren’t a part of our lives so I don’t think about them. And sometimes I forget they exist.
Sometimes I forget that I used to force my opinion on other people. That I used to argue everything, and could easily slide from one side to the other while they weren’t looking. I was good at that. I was sneaky. Nowadays I prefer to do things differently. I don’t talk my anarcho-capitalist-libertarian views with my anarcho-communist friends, or my extreme liberal friends, or my greenie friends or my republican friends, unless someone else brings it up. I don’t talk anti-vaccine or alternative medicine stuff with my traditional medicine pro-vaccine friends. I don’t talk about unschooling to my teacher friends. I don’t talk about Christianity with my atheist gaming geek or artist friends. At least I don’t do it deliberately- if you follow me on Facebook then you likely get an eyeful of things you don’t like though I don’t usually share the obnoxious stuff I agree with. I am sure many people I know choose to hide me from their feed, I hope so if it irritates them. I know I do all the time. The stuff that takes something I see as truth and shoves it in your face in a snarky way- I may like it but I choose not to share. As much because I hate when people I disagree with share snarky stuff and because that stuff tends to lead to arguments but also because I prefer showing instead of telling, especially snarky telling. So I try to live my life out in the open. I don’t always manage it but I try. That way people who disagree with us can see that stuff and ignore it, or if they see it, that it blesses us, they can ask me about it (and they do. I spend a lot of my days nowadays answering questions.) But it is amazing to remember how I got here. Why we believe the way we do about all the things that mainstream thinkers call us weird about (or whichever catch their eye). And I still get that. Being called weird when I share my views, having my ideas pushed aside because they are too far out of the box. Sometimes getting poo-pooed and called weird hurts just like it did when I was a kid. But then I remember that, well, for me, the box is still there. I just don’t bother climbing in. I prefer to stay outside and see all the cool stuff out here. I just need to make sure I don’t forget. Forget what it was like. Forget where I come from. Forget how things used to be. Forget why they changed.
So I guess my goal for the coming year is to not forget. To remember. To remember where I came from. Who I was and how I got here. To deliberately remember that I am still becoming, that I am not finished yet, but that I have come a long way.
Happy anniversary to us. 17 years of…maybe not bliss- had to make it through the first half when we were both still dumb but now? I get to be married to a super genius who is hilarious and awesome and brilliant and wonderful. What more could I ask. Happy anniversary Mr. Super Genius Awesome-pants.
*I am a lazy blogger. Mind you I have been blogging off and on since 1999. Why yes, I had a blog on the original “Blogger”. I remember vividly making one, being so excited (I had a new baby and was one of the early “mom bloggers”), and then Blogger reset everything after a crash and I lost my blog. We all had to start over. Sigh. Anyway, point is nowadays I seldom have time to blog, what with working full time, having 3 teenagers, running the Christian Unschooling facebook group (nearly 2000 members now), and well, life. So you mostly get posts that are reposts of things I have written elsewhere, because, posts.
The following is in response to a new to unschooling mom asking how to make sure her passionate about art daughter was learning math. Obviously my post here is proof read, formatted properly, etc unlike the original post which I wrote on the fly. 😀
With art, math is more of a natural thing that happens and less of a “this is math” thing. If I try thinking of math while I draw/paint my brain actually stops doing the type of art I want to do and I get too analytical to do the more organic work I prefer. (I play a lot of logic/puzzle video games which use the math part of the brain when doing programming and very architectural drawings and tend to spend more time watching vibrant/visually stunning animes and movies and listening to music when painting- helps my brain get into the right mode to work). That said you do use math naturally as an artist and it develops as you develop. So this is more for the mom and whoever else is worried about the child learning math than for her.
You use a lot of math think to do perspective, scaling things for drawings- whether up or down, composition, layout, proportions, as well as anytime you work on a realistic drawing it is all in your head visual math. The only art I can think of that does not use math as a default would be doing complete abstract (and many abstract pieces are full of math). Anytime you are taking something real world and putting it on paper (including fantasy and manga style, but I am saying, anything you could build and see rather than abstract concepts) you are using an organic math in your head to decide where things go and how they fit and where the lines should go. Mostly it is because when God created the world He filled it with patterns and lines and you can’t draw without replicating those at least in part, and the more you do it and the better you get the more math you are actually using, whether you recognize it or not.
Nowadays I can actually see myself doing it, and my art is much better because of it, though when I was young, math made me panic and I had to “ignore” the fact that I was using it and rather intuit it to get it figured right. I still intuit it, but I also intuit most math in other things- if I think about numbers my brain switches them around (there is a name for it- it is called “dyscalculia”- makes doing bills extra interesting), but if I let myself not think about them and intuit the answer it is almost always right.
There is a big difference between conceptual math and arithmetic- arithmetic is 1+1 and people naturally get that stuff because we use clocks and money, bake and play games, and everything else in the real world that uses arithmetic every day. Art, on the other hand, uses a lot of conceptual math- the scientist/mathematician stuff that most people don’t think of as “math”, it is just another form of that. Seeing patterns and using them to know where to put lines and color and shape is much more conceptual than it is arithmetic . That said artists do also use basic arithmetic for figuring proportions and things in more complicated drawings and layout- think M.C. Escher type stuff.
Happy 16th birthday to my baby girl, to the one who made me a mama, to the one who is strong, and brave, and very sure of what she wants, to the want who made us rethink our idea of child-raising and education and healthy living, to my dear sweet guinea pig, adventurer, shopping buddy, traveler, joyful, fun-loving, creative, musical, artistic, amazing oldest daughter.
Our oldest is back in Texas for a 3 week visit. Everything fell in place perfectly for her to spend her 16th birthday there at her best friends’ home so we went ahead despite winter’s unpredictable weather.
The first day of the trip was awesome despite the bus leaving an hour late and driving straight through due to snow and ice. She made friends with a girl about her age from China who barely spoke English. She helped her get where she need to be and do what she needed to do. They watched their favorite shows together (Thor which they watched in English with Chinese subtitles and Heartstrings- a Korean drama which they watched in Korean with English subtitles). They shared Rachel’s food (there was snow and ice and they were running late so they they didn’t stop at any of the normal stops for food). It was amazing and wonderful and Rue was thrilled that God was clearly in this trip.
The second day was HARD. She had a pack of Pocky left for her breakfast and wouldn’t get in till 9:30pm. (I really wish I had bought her a few more buns at the Asian grocery store (I ran in while she waited in line to get check in.) They were running really late still so weren’t making any stops and when they did stop there were only broken machines. At one point the bus broke down. She had a layover in Oklahoma City with no way to get food as the machines were all broken. Finally they got to Amarillo where she missed her transfer and her luggage had gone missing (they think it went to Dallas but so far no one is sure as it hasn’t turned up yet yet.) She ended up stuck in Amarillo, well after the time she was supposed to be in Lubbock, after everything had closed, waiting for our friends to drive an extra hour to come pick her up with no way to get any food and no luggage.
They took her to eat, took her home, found some clean clothes for her to wear, and they all crashed. Today they are heading into the city to the Greyhound station to see if they can track down her luggage and go thrift shopping for some new clothes to tide her over. A friend is sending a replacement for her Bamboo Tablet (which was in her luggage) and she received another pair of headphones as a late Christmas gift. So the big things that were lost (if the luggage isn’t found) have been replaced. Her brother gave her some money for her birthday and she will receive a little more which will help cover the rest of her loss. Not the most fun way of spending your 16th birthday but being with her best friends will make up for it.
We are praying that her luggage does show up and soon since we aren’t sure how much to replace and what to wait for. Regardless it will make a great story someday and she still has 2.5 weeks of time with her friends before she gets to deal with Greyhound again.
I wrote this in response to a friend who just found out she is about to lose her home, something her husband was keeping from her due to her panic attacks and fear. Their financial situation is much as ours was 4 years ago. They live on what work and finances God provides (which makes it tricky to work with the bank and government agencies), have been struggling for a while, and she was scared. This is now an open letter to those in that position, those who are struggling with crippling fear as they look at a future of change. Frankly it could be a letter to myself 15 years ago. And again at 10 years ago. And 5 years ago. And possibly a letter to myself again in the future.
You are NOT alone. We have been through it, Ame (one of several friends who knew all that was going on during and helped me through) has been through it (and held my hand through it, including through the panic attacks), I have been through it, many of us have gone through or are in the process of it. Many moe will find themselves in that place.
The panic attacks do come but once you let it out a bit (you need to let it out like steam in a pressure cooker or you will fall apart) you choose, you choose to stand firm, to be strong, to support your husband anyway- he was protecting you knowing you panic, knowing you can’t cope. He was trying to protect you. It is your turn to be strong anyway. It is your turn to help him and help your family by choosing not to fall apart. Yes, you will. It happens. But then you pull yourself up by your bootstraps and do the next thing. No point in worrying about anything else. You can’t do anything else. All you can do is the very next thing.
I know about the not being able to verify financial info with the bank and government agencies- we tried to keep our house and because of our unusual income sources (how do you explain manna living to a bank?) we never could get anything to happen.
The thing is God is way bigger than that. Bigger than our fear. Bigger than our relationships with people. Bigger than houses and jobs and money and things. WAY bigger.
I know it is hard.
It is REALLY, REALLY hard.
This is where you get to tell Satan he is a LIAR and choose to ignore all the whispers and shouts he is sending at you.
You get to choose to be strong anyway.
You get to stop telling yourself all the things you can’t do and choose to say “I may not be able to do all that BUT I CAN do this, right here. Right now. I can be grateful for the things we have. I can be grateful that my husband loves me so much he tried to protect me from this knowing how weak I have been. I can support him anyway. I can show my kids how strong I can be and make them proud so they know how to deal with all this stuff that is bound to come at them in the future.”
Be brave, Girl.
You can do it!
You don’t have to do everything right now.
You don’t even have to apply for help if you feel God is not leading you to (we never did- God provided through other means and it was horrible and hard and amazing and miraculous) but you can choose.
You have a choice. Right now.
You can do the very next thing. That is all you have to do.
You don’t know what will happen in 5 years, a year, a month, next week, 2 days, 2 hours, geez- you don’t even really know what will happen in 2 minutes.
All you have is RIGHT NOW.
And that is ALL you have to cope with.
All you have to deal with.
All you have to be strong for is RIGHT NOW. Everything else is gravy.
God is good. He loves you. You are worth it. And He is a very ready help in times of trouble.
Just saw this this morning and it struck me as important:
I Will Go Before You
I will go before you
and will level the mountains;
I will break down gates of bronze
and cut through bars of iron.
I will give you the treasures of darkness, riches stored in secret places, so that you may know that I am the Lord, the God of Israel, who summons you by name. (Isa. 45:2-3)
God’s imagery of going before us lets us know that he desires us to go on a journey. This is not so frightening. Most of us are aware that the Christian life requires a pilgrimage of some sort. We know we are sojourners. What we have sometimes not given much thought to is what kind of a journey we are to be taking.
Not realizing it is a journey of the heart that is called for, we make a crucial mistake. We come to a place in our spiritual life where we hear God calling us. We know he is calling us to give up the less-wild lovers that have become so much a part of our identity, embrace our nakedness, and trust in his goodness.
As we stand at this intersection of God’s calling, we look down two highways that appear to travel in very different directions. The first highway quickly takes a turn and disappears from our view. We cannot see clearly where it leads, but there are ominous clouds in the near distance. Standing still long enough to look down this road makes us aware of an anxiety inside, an anxiety that threatens to crystallize into unhealed pain and forgotten disappointment. We check our valise and find no up-to-date road map but only the torn and smudged parchment containing the scribbled anecdotes and travelers’ warnings by a few who have traveled the way of the heart before us. They encourage us to follow them, but their rambling journals give no real answers to our queries on how to navigate the highway. – John Eldredge, The Sacred Romance.
*I wrote this in my Christian unschooling group in response to a young mom with a 15 month old wondering if she would ever have time to do all the things she wanted to, to learn all the things she was interested in learning. It occurred to me that she is not alone. I remember being that young mom wondering if I would ever get a full nights sleep let alone be able to do things I was interested in, things that weren’t just about my family. And how were all these super moms doing it all?
This is just a season. Everything in its seasons. Pregnancy is a season. New baby is a season. Toddler is a season. There was a season of me stuck at home in a new town with hubby gone all day, pregnant and with a toddler. We had a season of 3 kids under 5- all in diapers at least part of the time. A season where one child was constantly in and out of the hospital. Several seasons where I was too sick to get out of bed. We have also had seasons of going all the time. Of passionately learning new things- I have learned a little of several languages (Not a natural language person so it is more osmosis for me- watching a lot of tv in that language and just exposing myself to it). Learning to cook for food allergies. Learning natural remedies and cheap healthy foods. Learning wild crafting and herbal-ism. Learning how to be a homemaker. Writing a book. Editing and publishing my own and my husband’s books. Marketing books and art. Learning to code html and php. Hosting and maintaining websites for myself and others. Blogging. Reading the Bible through multiple times and really studying it. Researching pretty much everything. Running several websites and Faecbook groups. Learning to fix things myself and then doing it. Working for an antique appraiser. Working as a caretaker for an elderly woman. Taking care of my own grandparents.
I have been married 17 years now. I have a nearly 16 yr old, a 14 yr old, and a 12 year old. There have been many many seasons. There are many seasons to come. I have no idea what will come next. Some of the seasons rotate around my children. Others around other friends or family members. Some mostly around myself.
The biggest trick is learning to focus on the here and now- to do the next thing and not worry about the other stuff, but also knowing this IS just a season so you can enjoy it fully. You can keep your goals in mind, you can have a list, the list will change. Your passions will change.
One of the wonderful things about unschooling is that passion for learning in YOU will encourage the passion for learning in your children so when you hit a season where you can you do- you study and research and learn. And when you hit a new season you do what you need to do for that one. And you build on all that stuff that you have learned and are able to learn and grow more and it benefits your kids as you do so.
Think about a time you have been under a lot of stress.
A person you know and respect gets angry and starts yelling at you for reasons you don’t understand.
Your boss berates you for something out of your control.
A close friend is struggling with stress at home and lashes out at you about something trivial.
A bereaved loved one takes their frustrations out on you.
A dear friend misunderstands something you said and refuses to discuss it or listen to what you meant.
A client is angry about a situation you have no control over and takes it out on you.
A bossy family member insists you do things their way when you know it would not be best.
Your spouse had a bad day and lays into you about something unrelated.
You mess up in a big way and feel bad but don’t know how to fix it because you know the person involved won’t take it well.
You screw up and try to fix it but don’t manage to do it right and the other person is furious.
You are trying to learn something new, working really hard at it, and someone teases you for not getting it already.
Someone treats you as a second class citizen because of something you can do nothing about.
Someone blames you for something you didn’t do.
Someone with more experience, expects you to understand why they do what they do but doesn’t attempt to do the same for you.
Someone demands you show them respect when they show you none in return.
Someone belittles you in front of others.
How do you feel?
Does fight or flight kick in?
Do you panic?
Do you fight back?
Do you empathize and realize that person is having a bad day, week, year and stay calm?
Do you belittle the other person?
Do you try to make peace?
Do you take it all on yourself, blame yourself, and accept full responsibility even if it wasn’t your fault?
How does your heart feel?
Do you have anxiety? Stress? Do you just move on as if nothing had happened? Do you internalize it and hold on to it? Does just the thought of the situation make you sick inside?
What if this was a regular occurrence? What if you were dealing with this person on a regular basis? What if their treatment of you was constantly belittling, blaming, or just plain stressful? What would you do? How would you respond?
Would you lash out at them?
Would you respect them?
Would you be timid around them?
Would you avoid them completely?
Would you feel sick all the time at the thought of dealing with them?
Would you willingly tell them everything or avoid speaking to them as much as possible?
This. This is what we do to our children.
This is what we do when we are having a bad day and lash out at them for knocking over their water.
This is what we do to them when we get angry at the mess they left and didn’t notice.
This is what we do when we accuse them of motives they had not even considered.
This is what we do when they don’t know what they did wrong or we misunderstand but don’t listen.
This is what we do to them when they are having a bad day and we belittle their feelings or even get angry at them.
This is what we do when we tease about past mistakes, point out failings, make fun of what they like.
This is what we do when we treat children like second class citizens, demand respect without showing them respect.
If we as adults get sick, stressed, frustrated, try to escape, or place blame when others treat us like this. If we get angry when we feel we have been unjustly accused or when others attribute motives to us that we had never considered. If this is true of us, mature adults who have had plenty of time and experience to learn how to deal with these situations, how much more so for children, who have not yet learned empathy, who are still learning how to navigate the world, and have people they love and should be able to trust treating them this way on a regular basis? No wonder teenagers refuse to share what is upsetting them, refuse to talk about how they feel, prefer to hide what is going on lest they get blamed or berated. By the time these children reach young adulthood they have spent the large majority of their life living with constant stress and dealing with loved ones who treat them with less than respect.
What if, instead, you are treated with gentleness and respect? What if in a misunderstanding the other person regularly gives you the benefit of the doubt, values both your feelings and your opinions? What if the other person, treats you with respect and grace and gentleness rather than blaming and demanding respect?
What about our children? What if they are respected, treated with gentleness and understanding? What if we recognize that they are struggling way more than we see as they learn to navigate this world? What if, instead of assuming they are just doing things to get on our nerves, we recognize that they are having a rough time, they are in pain, struggling to learn something new? What if – instead of rushing them to new things because we are sick of picking the same toy off the floor in their new game – we stick with it, recognizing that they are learning something- that this game is part of their development and that it takes lots of repetition for them to figure it out? What if when they make mistakes as youngsters we try to understand what is going on both what really happened and if there are any struggles we have been missing? What if when they lash out because they are having a rough time we recognize it as just that and look deeper, helping them work through all those emotions? What if, by the time they are teens they have had lots of grace and understanding (real understanding)? What if they really know they are loved and respected because they have had the opportunity to live with love and respect- where their opinions and feelings really matter?
Which young person is going to be healthier and happier? The one who lived with constant stress or the one who lived in a world where he felt valued? Which one is going to make better decisions? The one who is afraid to talk to her parents and so just lies or the one who knows they will really listen and help? Which is going to be more mature and ready to face the real world? The one who has spent most of his life bullied or the one who knows himself well enough to know who he is and what he really wants? Which is going to have the healthiest relationships? The one who has lived in unhealthy relationships or the one who knows her value?