This is the day…

My younger two will get to crawl through an ear that they make under the table. My oldest did it years ago in kindergarten and he has never forgotten the really neat activity. I wish I could claim credit for this, but the idea is in KONOS volume 1. We make ours under the kitchen table and use things like a seashell for a cochlea, a drum off the drum set, and an auditory canal made of blankets. Last night when I told my husband what we were going to be doing today, he remembered when we did it years ago and was glad I was doing it again. That’s why I love “KONOS”, he said.

While we use something different these days I still break out the KONOS when we learn about the 5 senses, Indians, and Medieval times. Those were some of the best units we did with the kids 5-6 years ago. It’s a moment I remember for the rest of my life when my kids have a great day with me, doing something that will change the way they think about things forever. Like dissecting a cow eyeball, or making a costume out of cardboard and duct tape for school. I am still reading the Mean Mom book and today is going to be about manifesto #8, which I happen to agree with. It’s about slowing down the access to outside media and not buying the kids a ton of stuff.

My kids wanted some sort of hand-held video game thing for a while. All the other kids had them (at kid’s church) and the boys were beginning to notice something they didn’t have. Like the mean mom manifesto states, I wasn’t going to give it to them just so they wouldn’t miss out on some sort of cultural moment, or be left out due to what they don’t have. There were times when my kid was the only one not playing a hand-held video brain fryer. Then we met our best friends. The kids made friends in their little gym class and I made friends with the mama and she told me all about Leapfrog educational tablets and hand-held devices that her kids liked. And so we got a Leapfrog something-or-other. Then we got the other boys little Leapfrog tablets and they were all bored within months. They have never asked for or complained about not having one again. We also don’t hang around those families anymore, but not just because of the video games. It was all kind of crap that the kids only liked because they wanted to fit in, like Poke’mon cards and Star Wars stuff. I am only knocking those things because my boys didn’t actually like them or know what they were, they just wanted to fit in. Now that they are away from the material world we were beginning to live in they are finding natural organic interests. I don’t mind buying my children a really special toy for their birthdays that we save up for, as long as it’s what they really enjoy, not just want because it’s the latest gadget.

I really agree with author lady when she begins to ask things like, shouldn’t kids be playing out in the backyard catching bugs and reading the Hardy Boys (I think today it would be a whole new series). I am going to quote her here because she says it better than I could…”What’s up with the iPod Touch mom? She felt it necessary to buy her eight-year-old an iPod Touch, not because the girl had some overachieving, preternaturally advanced affinity for technology, but because the iPod was, well, there. What’s her rush? What I saw was a raging case of Jones-keeping-up-itis, don’t you think? This poor woman then spent a good ten minutes nervously justifying her purchase to her stony-faced friend, who herself was more concerned with the peer pressure situation this would simulate between Little Miss iPod and her own, presumably less electronically endowed, son.” End quote, and wow! What a mouthful! I agree with her feelings. Sometimes I get into the habit of letting them play way too much indoors or I let them watch garbage tv for a bit (some of the shows on for kids today are pure trash… Disney, I’m surprised and let down) and I’m amazed at how quickly it turns them into little zombies.

I’m not a pro at this. My kids are relatively young and I’m learning as I go. The world is failing and I learn a lot about how to raise my family through books of homeschoolers past, and through the mistakes I see others make. I see parents leaving their kids in a hotel room alone all night so they can socialize with other adults while out-of-town. I see moms ignoring kids day in and day out so they can have “me” time or time with a girlfriend. I’ve known moms who put their kids back in school so they can hang out all day and tell me, without looking me in the eye, that their kids are perfectly happy and couldn’t be happier and it’s just the happiest thing to ever happen. Then a few months later they are back home because the child is crying to be homeschooled again. Why do we have to lie to each other and ourselves? Yes, we need to keep a piece of ourselves. I am hoping to fit in some classes for myself this year, but waiting to see how things pan out. But it should not be done at the expense of our convictions for parenting. When you teach your kid to be a selfish jerk, not only do you get a selfish jerk for a kid, but you get to help me on my road to parenting because I do the opposite of whatever it is you are doing.

Some of the most well-behaved children I know spent their lives in school. Some of the most self-centered, spoiled children I know are homeschooled. Those decisions are not the deciding factor of how our children turn out. I know that I could not do my job parenting should my kids be in school all day, but others can. Parenting is all-consuming, but at the same time we are only good at it if we enjoy our lives and are not slaves to the children. The best way to check our parenting health is by watching our kids. Are they joyful without toys or do they complain and expect me to provide entertainment? Do they scoff at the idea of spending an afternoon outdoors when they could be inside playing video games or hooked to the boob tube? Are they kind and respectful to each other, most of the time? Do I need to bribe them to behave well and decent with candy, video games, or stickers? I know some parents swear by this, but in the real world we don’t get rewarded for doing what we’re supposed to do, rather we get punished for not doing what we’re supposed to do. If my kids do what they are supposed to do, they get food on the table and they don’t have to go sit in bed for the day (which for them is the worst thing that could happen).

Being a good parent is about the connection, the selflessness, and the love. Love is sacrificial. Being a mom is really, really hard. Anyone who says it’s not isn’t doing it right.

Today is crawl through an ear day. I am excited to go get started and need to go collect some supplies so I’m signing off for now. I hope to write more later.

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