7 Quick Takes: Volume 15

Visit the Hostess of 7 Quick Takes Friday.
Learn a thing a two about killing scorpions.

~ 1 ~

Four birthdays in six weeks ended this past Wednesday. But two of the parties are still pending, so we can't quite say we are finished yet. I'll be finished just in time to raise my head wearily from a pillow and realize it's time to start shopping for Christmas presents.

As my babies get older, I find myself staring at little newborns and getting all misty-eyed and wistful. Babies are pure possibility, pure potential, pure opportunity to be the best we can be. Toddlers...school kids...pre-teens...well, they also represent potential and hope and possibility, but mine also provide all those moments when I am less than who I want to be, the moments I yell too much, or lack consistency, or make the wrong decision.

It gets so much more complicated as they get older. Children growing up is a true test of one's belief in second chances and never giving up. It's never too late to be the mom I want to be. It's never to late to be the parent you want to be.

~ 2 ~

Speaking of being the kind of mother I want to be, it has come to my attention lately that I (a) am a pushover and (b) do far too many things for my kids and for my household that my kids can and should be doing. This was actually a New Year's resolution of mine, to stop doing so much and start teaching them "how to fish," so to speak. I have come some distance towards this goal, but I still have a very, very long way to go.

So. My main question today is, how do I go the rest of the way? I'm not looking for answers that include chore charts and consequences and systems. I'm looking for a way to crack the whip around here with compassion, firmness, and detachment. Compassion, because we are all learning a new way to be and we all need help doing so. Firmness, because I'm given to caving -- or at least waffling -- when the kids resist. Detachment, because I am also given to despair when things don't go the way I want them to.

My kids do not help out around the house willingly. They mount massive fronts of resistance. They whine and complain. How do I combat those forces?

~ 3 ~

Halloween is looming. This year, we've got a monkey, Violet from The Incredibles, a mad scientist, a bloody version of Edvard Munch's Scream, and an "old-time, classic" gangster. My task will be to keep my mouth shut and help them realize their Halloween visions. Although I prefer a little creativity when it comes to costumes, I might end up stealing my 10 year old's costume, since this entire time of year makes me feel like this anyway:

~ 4 ~

Three of my children are participating in a fantastic outdoor education class called Trackers. So far, they have learned how to build fire without matches, hiked all over Tilden Park, made plaster molds of wild animals' paw prints, learned how to remove bitter tannins from acorns in order to make them edible, discovered "quick mud," and caught fish with their bare hands. Oh yeah, and the boys stepped on a wasps' nest. I don't think that last thing was technically part of the curriculum. They each came home with a nice collection of wasp stings (4 for one and 16 for the other) as souvenirs.

Viva la homeschooling!

~ 5 ~

Recommended reading: Zeitoun, by Dave Eggers. I had not heard of this book before my husband brought it home to me earlier this week. He knew how much I loved What is the What, also by Eggers. Zeitoun is an amazing book, all about one family's experience of Hurricane Katrina. As the back side of the books says: "The true story of one family, caught between America's two biggest policy disasters: the war on terror and the response to Hurricane Katrina."

Eggers is a wonderful writer and story teller. I devoured the book in about two or three days. This is one of those stories that should be more widely known, a cautionary tale we should keep in mind. I knew about the terrible things that happened in New Orleans because of the hurricane, but I had no idea how the war on terror intersected with that disaster. I'm saddened by what representatives of this free country did to our own citizens. All I can say is the book was an education. Please read it.

I'm reading The Corrections next. Another upper...but at least this one will be fiction.

~ 6 ~

Do you ever feel like it's impossible to keep up with the interesting and important things and people in the world? This past week, I wanted to watch miners get rescued, read about the bullying issues rocking the nation, learn more about the winners of the Nobel prizes this year, listen to enough NPR to win Wait Wait Don't Tell Me (albeit from my kitchen), read more of this week's New Yorker than the cartoons, catch up on blogs I follow, and figure out how I'm voting in the upcoming election.

What did I actually do? Battled the on-going ant invasion, made an imperceptible dent in the laundry pile, lamented the state of my home and fed people mediocre meals. And drove people places.

There is a quite large gap between how I would like to spend my time and how I actually do. That makes for some interesting dissonance right there.

~ 7 ~

I've been thinking about poems lately, because I'd love to incorporate poetry memorization and recitation into my homeschooling. The one minor obstacle to overcome is the fact that, when invited to read and memorize poetry, my children roll their eyes so far into their eye sockets that they can read their own minds. So I guess I'll put that idea on hold for now. Instead, I will share a short and wonderful Robert Frost poem I memorized and grew to love in high school.

Nothing Gold Can Stay
Nature's first green is gold,
Her hardest hue to hold.
Her early leaf's a flower;
But only so an hour.
Then leaf subsides to leaf.
So Eden sank to grief,
So dawn goes down to day.
Nothing gold can stay.

As Summer slides into Autumn in melted wax-colored light (it happens late here in California), this poem keeps rising up in my mind. I am thankful that even though nothing gold can stay, nature's first green will keep coming back, outside my window and here within my own four, sticky-with-little-handprints walls.

Here's to second chances and never giving up.

* * *


nicole said…
ok. i have so many things to say to you.
wasp nests ack.
trackers cool.
i envy your homeschool.
go see "waiting for superman"
i dread halloween.
i want to read zeitoun...can i borrow it.
california ants suck.
poetry is good. i haev a few poetry for children books with illustrations from classic poets if you are interested.
is your back better.
Teacher Mommy said…
I love that poem.

Also, thank you ever so much for the linky love! I hope you are, indeed, able to catch up a little, because I ACTUALLY POSTED!

geomama1 said…
I live on the Gulf Coast and I've never heard of "Zeitoun"- guess that's because I'm also spending most of my time doing mundane things like feeding and transporting people. I'll have to add that to my reading list
Homemaker Man said…
The Corrections was pretty funny, actually. Wish I could help you with the kids doing chores. I struggle w/ getting the pnut to pick up her toys. If you figure something out . . . As for the poetry, my wife is--I say this without hyperbole, but with pride--probably the best poetry teacher in her public school system. I'll ask her for tips, though one of them might be, "don't do memorization and recitation." I'm not sure. She's kind of a hippy.

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