No need to call for reinforcement.
I’m stuck in bed with a massive head-cold. I can’t hold my head up on my own, but I can still type, so let’s see what we can find to talk about today!
I had planned to take this day off from our usual homeschool co-op to do some extra academic work. After a week of administering superfluous state-mandated standardized tests, I really thought we needed the extra time for our own curriculum. Well, I’m sick, but that doesn’t mean we can’t a lot done, thankfully! Schooling when mom is sick, recovering from having a baby, or even just needing a rest from the grind, is, while still not as pleasant as just playing video games until you recover, very easy if you’ve laid a solid foundation of daily habits. While I’m nowhere near fully Charlotte Mason in my homeschooling approach, I have heartily adopted the CM philosophy on habit.
“Habit is ten natures.”
I get a lot of comments on how “good” my children are. By good, people mean that they are responsible, quiet, hard-working, self-correcting, and obedient. These things are all basically true, but my children are not innately any better than other children. What they are is trained, habituated, to do daily the things that go into being “good”. I don’t have to be present for them to continue their daily routines of chores, school work (though they do need some teaching), and self-care. They’ll start their independent work without me after the breakfast dishes are washed and the chickens and dog are taken care of. I’m still here to help in a lighter capacity than usual, but they’ll mostly figure it out on their own and help each other.
Get Along Husband and I were able to take an trip a couple of years ago for our 20th anniversary, leaving the children at home with their grandmother to keep them company. When we came home, she marveled at how little babysitting she’d actually had to do. It was like she was on vacation. They took care of her. She was basically just there so they’d have somebody to drive in case of emergency. And for fun. My goodness, she’s fun! They cooked the meals, cleaned up, did the household chores, took care of the smaller kids, did a little light school work, and she never had to lift a finger.
Am I bragging? A little bit, honestly, but not on myself. I’m absolutely delighted with my children! But I know that any group of kids that includes at least a couple of teenagers (my oldest boy was 15 at the time of our first trip) ought to be able to live quite comfortably without an adult for a week. Er, not that Nana isn’t an adult, but…well…you know what I mean.
I do feel like we’ve accomplished something, thanks to good teaching from the Bible, other godly parents, and early application of some of Charlotte Mason’s principles. Being able to come home to a smoothly running household with no drama, especially when you consider that the older ones were caring for small children down to the ages of two and three, is a very gratifying feeling.
It was as if we’d never left. Not even a little messy!
That wasn’t by accident or probably even good genetics. Though I’m told my husband was a wonderfully behaved, exquisitely polite child, I’m sure my wild hillbilly genes mitigate that somewhat. It has required a lot of hands-on training, and a lot of careful thought about what each child should be able to do for himself, and when. It’s not something I can really take a lot of personal credit for, though. I wish I could! I did put in the work, and I’m pleased that I was able to, but at the end of the day, I am an unprofitable servant. I’ve only done what all parents should be doing. And there are a lot of parents who are doing far better than I am. I’ve taken my example from them, and I congratulate them, also.
I look around and realize that there are a lot of parents who haven’t been blessed with either the Bible, good example, or such useful books as Laying Down the Rails, and their kids are absolutely lost every day without somebody telling them what to do every twenty seconds.
There are some commonalities I’ve noticed among these families that I think should be addressed. This post is starting to get a little bit too long, and I feel like a nap, so I’ll break the rest of my thoughts off for another day. My kids are delightful! I would love for every mom to be able to say that as whole-heartedly as I do, so I hope this post will turn into something useful, rather than the stream-of-consciousness exercise it set out to be.