Well, I'm sorry that I skipped my Thankful Thursday post last week. We were on vacation in beautiful Ludington, MI. The weather was perfect and a great time was had by all. Hopefully, I'll get a few pictures posted on my blog soon. If you're a facebook friend, just check out my album! Since we vacationed with my parents, sister and two nieces, time wasn't available for blogging or doing much else than the beach, ice cream parlor, eating and managing children! Poor us, huh?
On to Thankful Thursday.
One thing that has been wonderful to watch in my children is that they are learning to work together. I think this is a blessing that homeschooling affords in a very special way. Just this morning, as I came downstairs from helping Evelyn get ready, James called to me, "Look, Mommy! Jefferson's helping me with the dishwasher!" I was so thrilled that James took the time to include Jefferson in his chores. Jefferson loves to help, and James would point to a cupboard/drawer and ask Jefferson to open it/close it. Jefferson was so happy to help his big brother! In fact, one time, James asked him to close a cupboard and Jefferson shook his head and pointed to another item in the dishwasher that belonged in the cupboard. James said, "Oh, wow! Good job, Jefferson! You're right!" Jefferson just beams when his brother praises him like that.
Almost every day, James asks if he can get the mail for me. It's a favorite job of his. About a year ago, he began to hold Evelyn's hand as they crossed the street together to the mailbox. Just this past summer, Jefferson joined the crew and now all three of my children get my mail for me! James distributes the mail and they each hold something as they come back across the street. (Don't worry. I'm always watching from my front door for safety's sake.) My neighbor who has a two-month old watched this one day and commented that he looked forward to the day when his son could do that. It is a joy to watch.
The week before vacation, Ryan trimmed the hedges. He was unable to clean up the debris that fell as we were in a hurry. So he asked me to have the children clean it up. While this task did not go without bumps ("Mommy, he's not holding the bag wide enough!", "Mommy, she's playing and not working!", Mommy, he just spilled it all!"), training was being done and, in the end, the job was accomplished. Through it all, they're all learning that working and working together as a family is non-negotiable.
I was reminded, sadly, of those who do not have this blessing. That's right. Even all the whining and complaining is a blessing because they're learning. Who's to say that James did not learn to encourage Jefferson this morning from cleaning up the hedges two weeks before? I was instructing them to encourage one another instead of tearing each other down. The hand-holding that is expected crossing the street also comes in handy when we're running errands and traversing large parking lots. I fully plan to put James in charge of little Jack in the umbrella stroller once Jack can sit up and hold up his head. James is looking forward to the responsibility.
But, as I was saying, I was reminded of those who do not have this blessing. This week, I had to finish calling all of my students to inform them that I am no longer teaching for an indefinite period of time. One of the parents is a single mom of an early teenager (almost 13). This mom has gone through a lot in the past year, and we've tried to help wherever possible. She was telling me that she got a new puppy this past summer, in addition to the one they got the summer before. She told me that she was crazy, but was looking forward to the puppies growing up together and watching their interaction. She told me that she was never able to enjoy watching interaction with her human children (as they're all so spread apart and other circumstances), but she was looking forward to watching her puppies grow close together.
I was so saddened by that. Here's a woman who's been through a lot in life, but was trying to recreate something in her animals that many of us get frustrated with on a daily basis -- teaching our children to interact together in a kind, loving and fun way. I want to encourage any young moms who are reading this to keep on persevering in your training efforts. It will pay off. I'm already reaping the benefits!