Keeping Busy

KIMG1246It has been a while, and I am not even going to apologize anymore for the lack of writing. Life is busy right now in general and has been for a while. I think it is just the boys growing and changing and we are trying to change with them. They are not the little boys they used to be – no longer are they little or dependent. Younger boys, I think I have the hang of, for the most part. But now, they are growing (some are even taller than me now – hard when I get frustrated and then I have to crane my neck to look at them,) and they are blooming even more into their own person – independent, testing new grounds, expressing new wants and desires.

Baruch Hashem. This is ultimately what we want from them. We want them to grow into independent people who can participate in society. I really cannot complain, it is just hard to constantly have to be one step in front of them to guide them properly. There is no book that tells me how to work with *MY* teenagers. That book has not been written yet.KIMG1248 However, I have found that with lots of sincere looking and sincere davening (and tears don’t hurt either,) eventually Hashem helps guide us in the right direction. We are getting the hang of it. In the meantime, I have learned that it is good to keep them busy with things – either school, fun stuff or otherwise. Some boys get bored easily and then that is not a good thing, and some need to feel accomplished, so we try to get them to help us out and do things such as plan wood working projects where they get to plan and create it all basically themselves for they really can do it now.

I have made a few changes over the past few weeks. We had been doing a 4 day week schedule for several years now and I really liked how we could have Fridays to cook for Shabbos and clean and do errands, etc. However, lately I had been feeling so overwhelmed for we would not be done until after 4:30 pm and then I would go straight from there to getting ready for supper and after supper was cleaning, evening routines and
KIMG1196getting ready for bed. I was worn out before supper time. So, I have reluctantly moved to a 4.5 day schedule. Just moving one class over to Friday morning really helps. With the change, I now usually get 30-45 minutes at least before I have to start with supper. We are not doing all I had been wanting to do. I was excited to add in our Nature Study – which we have done once. Nature walks have happened most weeks, and one sketch per walk does happen. Mr. Little and I were sharing a drawing book, until he told me to get my own. Just showing his own little independence. 😉  Last month it was nice to go to “Our Spot” by the creek at the Nature Preserve which had boys creating dams from various nature articles. It classic spontaneous homeschooling at its best.

Also, as per Charlotte Mason’s schooling, I have started to put together a little list of some handicrafts that would be fun to do. One boy is in the middle of a wood working project for our backyard and two more are working on sewing puppet-wallets combos either for themselves or for cousins and not to mention the one who bought for himself a guitar and is anxiously waiting for his lessons to start. For one boy, we are really strongly encouraging him (aka “making him do it,”) to do more laining. He likes doing it and it is really good for him.KIMG1226 Unfortunately, it looks like this year we are not going to be home for him to lain his Bar Mitzvah parsha since it falls out over Thanksgiving and we go visit family (but he was practicing it anyways today and it was nice to sit and listen to him even if he was mumbling it very quietly.) Oh, and I cannot forget that it has been cool enough now to enough some learning outside.

When I started writing tonight, I was thinking that things were not really going as nicely as I would like and somehow the days slip by and schooling does not feel like it is going well, but as I continue to write and recount what really has been going on, I am reminded of all the little things we have started and how that really adds to what can feel very monotonous otherwise. Perhaps the year is going better than I KIMG1243thought it was. Yes, we have our growing challenges, but the fact that they are happening while learning at home has been such a relief. One boy who is having a few more growing pains than others at the moment can do his lessons at a different time if he is having a more difficult moment. I am learning to be flexible (even when I don’t think I can bend any further) to help him out. When I am stretching and flexing with him, he almost always comes back when he is composed and ready and then asks for his daily work to do, and it can be all be done in a very calm and loving (but firm when needed) way which is such an added bonus for everyone. Not such an easy task for a school, but definitely something that can be done at home.

So, I feel as if we have embarked upon a brand new journey this year. It is definitely not as simple as it has been in the past, but it is something that will definitely make me grow and that is exciting. I have learned and grown a lot over the last 10 years and I am looking forward to seeing the new me. I just have to remember to keep my eyes focused on our end goals. It also does not hurt to occasionally put myself in time out and either just veg in the bedroom, or make myself 1 chocolate chip cookie. Just for me. Out of sight. Just one. I may have done it today. And if I did, it really did hit the spot and made me feel so much better, it was nice in one of the little new ramekins that we bought last week. Don’t ever underestimate the power of 1 cookie. Especially one with chocolate chips 😀 Be careful to not make it too often!

Growing Pains

I will start off by asking for people to daven for Reuven Dovid ben Miriam. (***updated name***)  He got hit in the throat with a baseball and had to undergo surgery.  Baruch Hashem he is alive but will have a stint in his throat for 6-8 weeks, not being able to talk. He will have a tracheotomy tube to breathe through until stint is removed. Afterwards, they will attempt to do reconstruction surgery and hopefully will be able to talk again.

It was a busy day today.  Much has happened, and not with my children, but as I walked back into the house this evening, with my mind all full of different thoughts from the day, I took just a second to let what I saw and felt sink in.  The 2 year old was standing at the kitchen counter on one of our folding chairs, singing and bouncing, just asking for the chair to collapse.  It was nothing unusual, he loves to do that, however tonight it struck me different than usual, not sure why.  Perhaps it was a combination of the day – making a shiva call, going hiking with the family, finding out my friend’s husband got severely hurt in a very unusual accident, to other things – some planned, some unplanned, but it seems that on these days the little things get looked at differently.

I was thinking how amazingly different each of our boys are.  One boy tells me to watch out for it is going to be crazy in the house when they are all teenagers and a short while later comes over and “catches” me and tells me he caught me and that he is suspicious I am a double agent for the wrong country.  Another thinks he is as big as his older brothers and of course everything is “ME DO IT!” while at the same time needing to know exactly what ingredients are in his pineapple pieces or his zucchini bread.  We have one whose creative juices are constantly running away with him and he can create everything out of nothing but once he is finished, all those tiny pieces of paper and such just can’t seem to get picked up, no matter how hard he tries.  To another whose computer knowledge has actually surpassed his father’s in some areas and everything that comes out of his mouth starts with “Ubuntu.”

These boys all have the same mother and the same father, but yet, each is vastly different from each other.  Raising even one child is not easy, as any parent will tell you, however, there is something kind of refreshing to working with each of the children.  It takes a lot of work and effort on the part of the parent to not just “raise” a child, but to raise each child in the way that is best for them so that they will grow to their unique potential.  Up until this week I would arrange the order of the lessons to what suited me, and for the most part it seemed to work out well.  It was not until this week that I realized that it is not always the best for everyone.  I found out that in math, one child is better off doing it at the end of the day, the very last thing that I do for then I can sit down beside him for the 15 minutes he needs to finish his work while all the other siblings are out of the room.  This child needs me to give him my 100% undivided attention while he works on his problems.  Not that I do any of the problems for him, but I am there to help keep him on track.  He needs me to ask him what the next question is, he needs me to ask him what he needs to do first, etc.  With my attention and the lack of distractions from others, he all of a sudden can finish in a reasonable amount of time!

Perhaps it is the joy a parent gets from watching their children grow, but perhaps it is also the feeling that I too have grown.  Raising children is not just about the children.  Raising children is also about us, the parents.  It is easy to go through the moments where the child is listening and doing what they are supposed to do.  The challenge is when it is not so easy.  What happens when you all have a wonderful day and it seems ruined by the fact that at 10pm the children are still not in bed for they are just too wild and wired from the excitement and exhaustion?  What happens when a child throws a huge tantrum every time they think life is so unfair?  What happens if there are other bad middos such as lying or hurting taking place?

All these challenges push us, the parents, to the limits.  Often times we might be up at night thinking, other times during the day.  There are times where we can find the answer quickly, and sometimes the answer seems to elude us for eons.  But we keep on trying.  Then, one day we look back and all of a sudden we notice how they have changed.  The child who used to touch the wet paint of others’ pictures and not sit still, now is maturing and sits with the adults and participates in conversations (until you have to shoo him away! 🙂  )  The one who threw such wonderful tantrums and got offended so easily, well, all of a sudden I realize that the tantrums have almost disappeared.  Children all go through different stages in life.  With our help, they usually outgrow their “growing pains.”

But if we would look back at ourselves, we would see that we too have grown.  At first, we never imagined that we could cope with certain situations, and now, those situations are a piece of cake!  And not only that, we find that while we are dealing with new challenges, we also add more things to our resume that we might never have dreamed of.

So, as I am thinking about how wonderful it is to be a part of our children’s life and to see them grow and mature, I hope this feeling will be able to carry me on to the next challenge, whatever that may be.  Hopefully I will remember that with my constant love and devotion that this too will pass and be outgrown and the gorgeous, amazing, unique flower that is emerging will continue to unfold.