I am a
Taylor sent me these photos of her little yard friend. I used to chase and catch lizards for hours! Loved the little things. I always wanted to keep one as a pet, but of course my parents wouldn't let me because they were all over the yard. I remember seeing cameleons at the county fair. You could buy them on a little leash that attached to your shirt. Oh, I REALLY wanted one of those!
I’ve learned a lot about children over the past few decades, but one thing has always baffled me. Why do some children have a personal sense of “right vs. wrong” and others just don’t get it, or worse, don’t seem to care?
I commented to my colleague yesterday that I have at least eight children I think I could leave in the room, alone or in groups, for at least fifteen minutes without any fear for their behavior or safety. When I returned they would either still be doing what I had given them to do, or would have naturally moved on to working in their journals or reading a book. If they were confused about their next action they would simply sit and talk. If I was gone for too long at least two of them have enough initiative to go next door or to the office and ask about my return.
I have another group of children I wouldn’t trust alone for two minutes. In fact, three of them only behave if I am in the room looking directly at them. Yesterday, I walked from my lesson board to my desk to take off my sweater and one of them poked a girl in the back before I returned. That’s what prompted today’s post. (Not that I haven’t had this discussion a dozen times with a variety of colleagues.)
There were three other incidents yesterday that I can use as examples. 1. One of my girls asked if she could get more gravy for breakfast. I told her, “Not until you eat your biscuit.” She waited until I was at the other end of the table with another student and went to the kitchen to get more gravy. This is at least the third time she has left the table without permission. 2. One of our problem areas at school is the bathroom. The minute some students are in there they start throwing water, banging doors, or climbing on the counters- because there isn’t a teacher present! I usually respond because my room is directly across the hall. 3. Yesterday a colleague watched my room while I went to the bathroom. (In reality I NEVER leave my class alone!) While I was gone, three students misbehaved and did something I had earlier told them not to do.
I have this discussion with my students every year, and at about the same time. I give them the first nine weeks to learn the rules and procedures and then I raise my expectations of them. We talk about personal responsibility and about making good choices. I want them to follow the rules because they know them, not because I’m watching. I took yesterday’s incident as a teachable moment. We stopped our lesson about the “an word family” and talked about doing the right thing “even when no one is watching”. That seems to be an impossible task for some of my students.
My colleagues and I have pondered this over and over. Some of it is indeed the old “nature vs. nurture” quandary. But each year I have at least one student who falls into the “devious” category who seems to come from a very normal family with caring parents who try to control him. And yes, I’m sorry, but it’s almost always a boy. Although this year I do have one girl in the “can’t be trusted” category.
I know from personal experience and from observing so many children, that my most responsible children are usually “oldest” or “only” children. However, some of my worst can be “only” children if they have been spoiled. I’ve also had mischievous children who have very authoritative parents and those who have parents who do almost nothing to discipline their offspring. That leads me to believe that one of the key elements has to be the child’s personality.
The thing that bothers me about all of this is that I’ve found that for the most part these children don’t improve with age. I know some kids mature and develop with time and experience, but others just form lasting habits and patterns that get worse.
We’ve all done things we knew we shouldn’t.
Making bad choices is all a part of growing up.
But what makes a child consciously, deliberately decide to do something they know is wrong?
I don’t know the answer. I can only hope that what I’m doing in the classroom will influence one or two of them to do better.
Crochet- needlework done with a needle having a small hook at one end for drawing the thread or yarn through intertwined loops.
Afghan- a soft woolen blanket, crocheted or knitted, usually in a geometric pattern.
Doily- any small, ornamental mat, as of embroidery or lace.
The above terms are ones I will most likely have to explain to my great grandchildren. The last one might even be a new term to some of you reading this.
It turned cold last night, so as I made my way to the office this morning I grabbed a small afghan from the living room. It’s one that I made several years ago when my hands were kept busy each night with needles and thread. It’s warming my knees and legs, but it is also reminding me that I really should make at least one small thing this winter so I don’t completely lose my skills. I’ve already forgotten most of the basics of knitting and have to re-teach myself anytime I want to make a scarf, which is essentially the only thing I could ever knit.
I was never that good at crocheting. I struggled and fought the tension of the thread. I got confused by the terms of the instructions. Gran was patient, but I didn’t become even “adequate” at crochet until I was an adult. Mom didn’t crochet much until we were grown. I doubt that she had the time before that, and Gran usually supplied anything we needed anyway. Crochet was one of her passions. Someday I will get my baby sweater out of storage and post a photo of it!
It was Karen who picked up the needles as though she was born to use them. Perhaps that is just part of her genetic package, since she is also gifted at sign language. Anyway, it makes me happy that there is someone in her generation to pass on the family tradition.
My great-grandmother also crocheted, but in her generation the pieces were more delicate. I suppose because most women also quilted there wasn’t much reason to make the afghans that Gran was so fond of creating. Bigg, as we called great-grandmother, made doilies, table runners, dresser scarves, table cloths, and bedspreads. That’s one of her doilies in the photo. I still have it on my shelf because I refuse to let it hide in the closet, even if it deteriorates with time and use. I also have a table cloth made by Gran, two of her afghans, an afghan made by Karen, and a few small “granny squares” that Mom made. I have my baby sweater and David’s baby sweater.
Gran had dozens of doilies and she could tell me a story about each one. Aunts and cousins and sisters and friends had all donated to her collection. She had doilies fashioned like flowers and some had the most fascinating designs I’ve ever seen. Tiny delicate stitches testified to hours of painstaking precision. Many were starched and ironed each week. I wasn’t allowed to iron them until after I had practiced on, and scorched, at least two dozen of Grandad’s cotton handkerchiefs! After ironing, the doilies were placed under bowls and vases and jewelry boxes and even ashtrays.
I suppose someone must still crochet, and I know knitting experienced a trendy resurgence a few years ago. There are still rows and rows of bright skeins of yarn at Hobby Lobby and WalMart. Maybe I’m the only one who has gotten lazy and let my skills get rusty. I might just need to take out my needles during Christmas break and see what I can do!
BTW- That's Hope trying to crochet with Mom.
I finished my Caddo history book yesterday at 3pm. As page 282 rolled out of the printer I felt an enormous sense of relief! I’m excited about getting this to other genealogists and friends in hopes that it will help their research. I also hope it will interest more people in our little town. It really does have a fascinating history. Of course I have LOTS of information in my files than I was not able to include in this book. There will be others to follow…but my weary mind can’t think about that yet.
This is the last week before Thanksgiving vacation! No, I’m not excited….:)
My friend Suzanne is facing another surgery on Tuesday to remove her artificial knee because of a serious infection. This is a repeat experience for her, which actually makes it more difficult to face. I hope you will join me in praying for her. She will need our support for many months as she recovers.
Please continue your prayers for those with the flu. It is still floating around.
Awoke to rain and cold this morning. I knew winter would eventually knock on our door. However, I’m thanking God that it isn’t white stuff. He knows I’m not fond of that!
Have a great day! Be thankful!
I heard an interesting statement yesterday: “We need to stop buying things we don’t need, with money we haven’t earned, to impress people we don’t even like.”
All I could think of was “AMEN!”
I’ve always had some thoughts about money that were a little askew from others around me, so I generally keep my mouth shut when it comes to discussions of it. Mom always cautioned that you shouldn’t discuss money, sex, religion, or politics if you expect the conversation to stay polite. I would have to add sports to the list these days! J Anyway, that advice certainly isn’t necessary in a world where every other person “tweets” their every waking thought, and most people are never polite, so I may as well give you my two cents worth about money.
We spend too much and save too little.
We buy things we don’t really need because it makes us happy for a little while.
We buy things to make up for what we lack in feelings.
We buy things that make us feel like we belong to our little corner of society.
We buy things without planning to buy them.
We often spend money on our children when what they need us to spend is time.
We always have more money available to us than we think we do, if we are willing to sacrifice a little pride or inconvenience.
Our grandparents knew more about money management than we ever will.
I suppose I’ve been thinking about money lately because of the holidays. I hate to see what people do with their money during the holidays. I want to tell young parents not to spend so much on their children’s presents. They don’t need most of them. They won’t remember half of them. Put the money in a college fund. I want to tell people to remember that the elderly in their lives are probably yearning for companionship-not things. Many of them need food-not trinkets. I want to remind people that giving others things you can’t afford for yourself often leads to resentment. I want to tell everyone to stop and think before they spend, especially in the next few weeks. After all, we’re supposed to be celebrating Jesus, not greed.
Money mistakes- I’ve made as many as anyone. I'm trying to do better these days.
I love animals, especially wild woodland creatures. However, one thing I do not want to see, ever again, is a big brown body with antlers crossing my path! I’ve already hit two in recent years and both did quite a bit of damage to my cars. Yesterday I had another close encounter of the deer kind! I was almost home when one leapt out of a little group of trees and ran in front of me. Of course I slowed to a crawling pace to see if he had friends. The last deer I hit was the straggler in a herd of about fifteen. While visions of my last two encounters flashed before my eyes I slowly made my way home. I will be extra cautious this morning since the herds may be moving due to the weather changes. However, I will try to remember what Gary always tells me- it is better to hit a deer than to swerve off the road into a tree while trying to avoid one.
Friday! Should be a good day at school. We have been making Native American crafts all week. Today we will decorate a paper vest with picture symbols. Next week turkeys! Food! Pilgrims!
Have a good one.
One of the advantages that teachers have over parents is perspective. Parents see their child within one small context- the family- and have little to compare them to except for a few friends and family members. Parents also have tremendous time, effort, and ego invested in their child. That affects how they view and react to their strengths, weaknesses, and actions.
Teachers, however, have the gift of time and numbers. We see hundreds of children over the course of a few years of teaching. We see children in groups with others of their own gender and age. We see children from a variety of home environments and backgrounds. We see every strength and weakness you can imagine. And we see patterns of action and behavior. We see patterns of personalities. And sometimes we watch the children at recess and see glimpses of their future.
I don’t always share my glimpses with parents. Sometimes I can reassure them that their child is normal, or “just acting his age”, or will improve. However, sometimes I see such potential tragedy that I just can’t speak. I pray that I’m wrong and I do everything I can during my year to change the outcome of my glimpse. Many years ago I had a child that I predicted would end up in jail. I didn’t want it to be so and I prayed that changes would happen along the way, but I was correct. I was correct by the eighth grade when he stole his first car.
Yesterday I saw a similar glimpse and I don’t want to be correct. I ask you to pray for a little boy who needs some major changes in his life. I want his future to be as bright and joyful as possible.
My daughter made a comment last night that is still floating around in my brain this morning. She said that many of the parents she encounters seem afraid that their children will become bored. Many children we work with each day are plugged into or seated in front of some electronic device every leisure hour, if they aren’t attending a lesson or a sporting event. “Whatever happened to playing 'pretend' or reading or drawing?” she wanted to know. “And why is boredom so bad?”
Just to be very clear about our discussion this morning I consulted the dictionary:
Bore- 1. To weary by dullness, tedious repetition, unwelcome attentions, etc.: The long speech bored me. 2. a dull, tiresome, or uncongenial person. 3. a cause of ennui or petty annoyance: repetitious tasks that are a bore to do.
Oh, my. Repetitious tasks? Like home work? Like chores? Like laundry, cooking, cleaning? Like driving, working, paying bills? Like life? Yes, doing repetitious things might lead our children to become tiresome, uncongenial people, or maybe just adults.
I probably can’t repeat to you what my father would have said if I had told him I was “bored” with farm work, or bored with school, or bored with my daily house chores. He often placed us at the beginning of a mile-long row of the season’s current crop of something and said, “When you get to the end we’ll take a break.” Not “quit”, not “go home”, but “take a break”. Believe me, nothing is more repetitious than cutting grapes or picking cotton all day. Work didn’t turn me into a tiresome person; it just made me strong and creative. I spent my time in the fields thinking of wonderful stories and imagining what I would do when I grew up. I also played “what would you do with a million dollars?” with my brother.
I’m not saying that children need to work as much as we did. But I don’t think a few chores or homework will hurt them.
I don’t think riding in the car from school to home without a movie will cause distress.
I don’t think singing without electronics will make them feel underprivileged.
I don’t think a little unplanned, unscheduled time is bad.
I don’t think a little boredom will hurt them.