Just some notes and things I want to remember and rambles:
Patrick had a great field trip at a farm with his class-his nicest teacher took pics and sent them on. I told him to bring me home a baby bunny, but thankfully he did not. (I believe that's a chick he is holding but the bunnies were to die for.)
He had track and field day the other day and came home with a bunch of first, second and third places. He had one purple participation ribbon and he said to me, "Mom I am going to throw this in the garbage because everyone got one so it means nothing," My heart leapt with joy! :) He gets it! This generation might be saved! Now we just have to eliminate the snacks after games/practices (which seem more rare nowadays?) and we might have just added a teeny tiny bit of common sense back into parenting.
I was talking with a friend the other day about the benefits of a large family-just how incredibly beneficial it is to the kids naturally.
(That DOES NOT mean there are a not a whole lot of benefits to other sized families, it's just that I see it now more than ever especially in the culture of parenting today. And also big families are rare today, the drawbacks being the things that are pointed out-financial commitment, work and more work for the parents...)
One day I want to make a list just for the fun of it.
I have a million examples, and yes maybe a lot of them are generalizations, but still they stand. I don't have the time, energy or brain space to over-parent, to coddle, to micro-manage, to baby (you are ok, get up, unless your arm bone is sticking out or you are losing massive amounts of blood you are ok-I tell this to my kids about sports-we don't stop games ever for God's sake, in this family, you know your brother has run into you harder than that and you got up with raised fists, plus we don't waste other people's time), "You get what you get and you like it", you are in charge of your own school work, uniforms, and entertainment, and eventually your entire life (and as quickly as possible because someone needs/wants your bed or room), work if you want money, work even if you don't because you need to be busy, save your money, you'll need to buy your own car/shoes/house one day, don't ask me to remind you about anything, my brain won't remember, it's too full. If you want something bad enough (a team, travels, a school, a job) you will have to be self-motivated, because I don't have the time and energy to magically pull it all in place for you. And gosh, picky eaters? Who notices picky eaters in a big family? They must be pretty hungry.
Natural consequences are big, BIG and I think SO important and something that just comes without effort or thought in a big family. Gosh, there is no correction to normalcy like that of sibling correction. For example, if you are making annoying sounds with your mouth, or talking too much too loud too early in the morning, or using all the towels, or eating all the cookies, or God forbid chewing with your mouth open, someone will let you know, and if you don't stop they WILL stop you somehow. It might be a hard punch in the arm, but you know what? Maybe you deserved it. Dare I say that? Yes I do. I see some kids today that just might need a hard punch somewhere. I bet a lot of teachers would agree with me. This is how kids used to solve things before so much parental interference, before they needed to be taught to behave certain ways-siblings helped us parents tremendously.
I am reminded of a cousin, one of ten, who stood in front of his class as a high school teacher and said, 'I grew up with nine siblings, I've been called every name in the book already, so don't even bother." Ha! Resilience, and perspective.
I also remember the scene from The Christmas Story-that bully finally getting his due, and bawling after poor Ralphie just had had enough. What a lesson for both Ralphie and the bully! Nothing any adult could do would replace that lesson.
Earlier this year one son came home about some complaints about what was happening on the playground-an older kid picking on kids two grades younger during football games-hitting a little too hard being a little too rough. I told my son, "Well you have some choices, don't play with him, avoid him, or show him that you guys can hit just as hard, or run faster." (I might have also said something about The Christmas Story, to which my son smartly replied, "I am pretty sure I'd be expelled if I did something like that.") I'm not getting involved with playground drama. (Eventually because of other parents the principal did and I LOVED the way he worked it out-making the kids work it out themselves while he monitored the meeting.)
Natural consequences. And some kids need them, nothing else will work. And other kids need to know that there won't always be a rescue, to make their world perfect and easy, because the world is NOT perfect and easy. Nothing ever really falls into place perfectly. They won't always get the cupcake they want, the nice teacher, the seat up front, the A, the trophy, the place on the team, the invite to the party. Kids are mean to each other sometimes, adults are also. Life isn't fair. I've said that statement so many times as a parent. Some kids learn that little by little, some have really tough intense learning years, it's not always easy to watch, but our support, not our constant interference, is what is necessary. Our ears are necessary, hardly ever our fix-it skills.
Helicopter parenting? Smother-mothering? It doesn't exist in big families. It just can't, we moms and dads of many kids just don't have enough time. And what a gift, thank the Lord, one less thing I have to worry about screwing up :).
Do you know what I think? That this might be the one single factor in how things have changed over time. The Greatest Generation? Maybe had a little to do with war and poverty but more to do with how big families shaped some incredible characteristics in people. As families became smaller and smaller, things became a little crazier and crazier. The problems that exist in schools today, maybe that has more to do with the decline of big families. Teachers having to jump through hoops to please every child and parent, constantly catering. Kids being given everything they want, without having to work for it. (Entitlement!) Every program imaginable for disorders that used to be personality characteristics. Elimination of all struggle. (Which also eliminates drive, determination, strength and resilience, duh, the VERY things that make a person flourish!) The quest for fairness, equality in all aspects of life, "I am special, I deserve....". No you are not and your siblings would have told you and showed you in so many ways from the moment you were born.
And the stories-gosh that alone is worth it. We have some great neighbors who have been raised in huge families, and I can't get enough of the stories. I swear you can't make these things up and they would make most parents today gasp in alarm and dismay at the utter neglect and danger of just about all of it. I've heard so many hilarious stories from my aunts and uncles. It gives me hope as a parent, it gives me a little reward for the hard work of raising a big family-all the incredible memories that sometimes even involve the hardest of times. I bet there isn't a mother of a big family who doesn't pray, and pray often.
So much more to say on that subject, but I have to get some laundry finished.
Andrew, once last in every cross country meet as a small child (he was so cute, he just could not understand why everyone was always ahead of him! we laugh so hard about it now) has progressed to doing pretty darn well in a class 2 mile run. He has an incredibly nice class of kids, they have two more years together but everyone agrees this is one special group.
Dress like your favorite book character day. (Don't ask I don't even remember now.)
My parents back deck this last weekend. I would have cried.)
I have officially burned myself out of sweet potato chips. This was my last batch for a long long time.
Eating lunch with this sweet girl.
I've been awful about taking photographs this last month, forgetting my camera everywhere, or not wanting to break myself away from the real moment by taking a picture.
Isaac graduates this weekend from college, so excited for him. Praying that we all (well Janey especially) make it through the 2 1/2 hour ceremony-the fact that it's outside will help a great deal.
We are NOT ready for summer around here (heart-ready but not mind-ready) but next week I will only have the two boys in school for a few last days so I need to get on the ball and get my head into gear.