Favorites, Parenting

Mundane Rules (From June 5th 2020)

A republished blog for the third anniversary of 100 words.

I asked my five-year-old cousin what was his favorite part of my visit to his home in Louisiana. His answer? “You waiting for me when I got off the school bus.”

Three years later, he was asked his favorite times with his mother who was dying of cancer.  His answer? “Mommy playing games with me while we waited for the school bus.” His favorite game involved counting colors of passing cars.

Being met at the school bus. Waiting for the school bus. Both outweighed adventures such as sunset boat rides, trips to Avery Island to watch alligators, and playing on the ever-changing beach of Rio de Janeiro.

How are these answers relevant to parenting and educating our children? Along the way, I learned that day-to-day life matters more and will be remembered more than elaborate vacations, carefully planned birthday parties, science fairs, team sports, and field trips.

The mundane stays in our children’s memories because of the repetition and the emotions attached.  I wish I had known earlier to make the most of the smaller moments.  Mundane rules, which can be very good news.

Which mundane moments are your favorites?

Homeschooling, Parenting

Parent-Child Conferences

Let’s admit it. Too many times, we homeschoolers shake our heads at the operations of traditional schools. (Other parents and traditional teachers do so as well.)

Some things, which are beneficial in a traditional setting, would never work for homeschoolers. Parent-Teacher Conferences are an example. We would be talking to ourselves, which we already do too frequently.

However, I wish I had realized the benefit of Parent-Child conferences, commonly known as Teacher-Student conferences. I could have:

Affirmed my sons’ progress.

Asked their frustrations.

Voiced my frustrations.

Worked with them on a strategy to overcome our weaknesses.

Asked about their goals.

Explained my goals.

These discussions would have avoided a lot of angst in our home.

Are there any other “school” ideas we homeschoolers should consider and perhaps incorporate?


Favorite Child Day

One helpful piece of advice came too late. A good acquaintance with five children instituted Favorite Child Day. With five weekdays, there was a natural fit. When I told another friend, she said her three children could have two turns a week.

Favorite children are favorite children. They pick the read-aloud book or game. They have the bigger brownie. They sit in the front seat. They answer the phone. For our family, Favorite Child Day would have meant not answering the phone.

I think the biggest benefit would be to the parents. When accused “He’s the favorite,” they could answer, “Of, course. It’s Tuesday.”

You may have noticed that outsiders like to opine about favorite children in a family. Twice, outsiders have identified one son as our favorite. I understood their choice.

One day, my youngest and oldest agreed that my middle son was the favorite. I didn’t understand that choice. Middle children get squeezed. I went to my middle son’s room, announced the consensus of his brothers, and waited for his denial. After a thoughtful moment he said, “I guess I am the favorite.”

Have you been given an opportunity to discuss favorite child perceptions?

Homeschooling, Parenting

Experiencing Disorganization

The Spring race season brings the anticipation of both familiar and new race venues. In June 2018, my husband and I looked forward to a 10-Miler an hour away. The advertised course was unique.

We started before sunrise to have plenty of time. It was a good decision because the directions were confusing, which resulted in us exiting and re-entering the highway twice. Upon arrival, there weren’t signs for parking. We wandered the complex with other cars. After parking, there weren’t directions to the race-packet pick-up. There was no visible start line and no signs pointing the way.

How could a race with over 1000 participants be so disorganized? Our confidence in the race organizers dropped and our stress mounted with each challenge. And our race-morning adrenaline was already high.

This was one of those times I experienced the result of someone else’s disorganization rather than mine. It was a lesson I did not forget. Disorganization has real costs to others.

My children were grown, but I was still teaching. If I was disorganized, I not only wasted my students’ time, but also reduced their ability to learn. Their confidence in me as their teacher diminished. Sobering.

A Successful Ending

Decisions, Homeschooling, Parenting

Choosing A Pace

Snow is lingering—if not on the ground, then in my mind. I dread its loss. My husband sees its exit as the start of the race season.

Training matters, but winning races involves strategy as much as physical fitness. My husband was not yet a runner when he learned this truth from a collegiate, cross-country roommate.

2014 Kent Island Start Line

Runners have pulled ahead too soon and been unable to maintain their speed. Or withdrawn. Runners have not followed the leaders’ surges and later been unable to close the gap. Runners have won by staying behind before their own late surge.

Pull ahead? Stay with the group? Hang back and wait?

Successful runners know when to leave the pack and when to let the pack leave them.

Along the way, I learned that the same strategies applied to parenting and homeschooling decisions.

Should I stick with standard curricula and goals? Was I falling behind and dragging my children with me if I resisted the latest parenting or homeschooling trends—especially when acquaintances were on an accelerated track? Would matching their pace lead to victory? Or defeat? Our optimal strategy was occasionally unclear.

How do you choose your pace?