The Words Worth More Than a Thousand Pictures

At the beginning of this school year, I was a bit concerned about where my two elementary aged children were, regarding their comprehension of basic math skills.  I did what has turned out to be one of the best things I’ve ever done as a homeschooling parent–I asked for help.

Our tutor turned friend turned family was a huge gift.  She gave our Princess what she needed to be able to approach math with a different attitude–a “can do” attitude.  And I am thankful.

So while I am still very focused on math and practice practice practice, I have shifted my concern over to writing.  Both in content and in handwriting.  *sigh*  We have a lot of issues around here.

While they both love to tell stories, and they both are avid readers, when it comes to writing those stories down, well–the motivation factor seems to be *ahem* missing.

So I’ve been encouraging more creative writing, especially with our Princess.  She has a workbook that we get writing prompts and activities from.  We choose one together and she works on it on her own.

On Wednesday, she had a list of twelve words–nothing spectacular–and she was to write a sentence or two about each one.  Mailbox was one word.  I think flower was another.  Pretty basic words.  She did this task without too much gnashing of teeth, and I was pleased.  The next day the assignment was to pick one of those words and write about 200 words–anything having to do with the subject.

And then it was meltdown mode.

“Mama I can’t think of another thing to say about any one of those words!” she said, adding in a bit of whine for good luck.

Oh me.  I decided to take a different tactic than the one that came to mind first.  Raising my voice and telling her to sit down and think probably wouldn’t be good for getting the creative juices flowing.

“Okay, fine.  I will give you a subject, and you can write whatever you want to about it, okay?  At least half a page or longer, okay?”

She nodded through her frustrated tears.

I thought for a minute.  “Okay, Aunt’s.  You can write anything about being there or anything having to do with her place.  Got it?”   I wondered if she’d write about picking vegetables from the garden or playing with her cousins or our yearly family get together there.

She smiled.  “Can I write about the Easter Egg Hunt?”  It was on her mind since it was coming up soon.

“Sure,” I said, relieved.  Now we were getting somewhere.  There would be a lot she could write about.

A few minutes later, she came back.  “Mama, how ’bout I draw a picture instead of writing about it?  I will go get the paper now, and it will look great…..” She started to go after her art supplies.

“Wait.  What?  No.  Nonono.  You are not going to draw a picture.  You have to write about it.”

She turned back around.  And smiled.  While she can be the sweetest and most tender-hearted child most of the time, she has these moments of pre-teendom that make me worry about the future.  This was one of those moments.  I saw the glint in her eye, and I wondered what was coming.

“Well, Mama, they say a picture is worth a thousand words.  And since you only asked me to write 200 or so, I’d really be doing more than you asked.”  And then she smiled.  Knowingly.

Y’all, I may wind up with more than one of my offspring becoming a lawyer.  I mean, really?  #Loophole.

She began to giggle, and I couldn’t help but laugh too.  Unfortunately, contrary to what she thought, my laughter did not equate to letting her off the hook.

She wrote her story.  She decided to interview everyone in our family and ask them what their favorite thing was about the Easter Egg Hunt/Wienie Roast/Family Hootenanny.

It turned out pretty good too.  She used complete sentences and proper capitalization and her reporting was spot on.  While more than one said the hot dogs were their favorite part, it was usually paired with being with family.  Her big sister threw in that her favorite part was sneaking our Princess’ Nerds from her Easter basket.  (Princess correctly used parentheses to note “I’m going to get her!”)

But what really got me, and what told me that no matter what her calling in life is our Princess will always have that same tender heart, were her closing words:

“For me it’s seeing everybody happy.”

Oh baby girl. Me too.

Me too.

(And just for the record, she was wrong.  There’s no picture that could have been worth more than those six words right there.)

May you all have a ray of sunshine around to remind you of the important things in life.

Love to all.

 

Sharing Stories Around the Picnic Table

On New Year’s Day, over Maemae’s Swedish Christmas Ginger Cookies in the shapes of Star Wars characters with a side of sparkling cider, I got to share stories with my nephews and my littles.  They sat around the picnic table I bought and brought home and painted on one of the occasions the Fella was out of town years ago.  Bless him, he never knows what he’ll be coming home to.

It was a beautiful day to sit by the fire and share stories.  I suppose I had an ulterior motive, but too many stories left this world with first my Daddy and then my Mama, so when I have the chance, I’m gonna tell ’em and they’re gonna listen.

We talked about superheroes.  This crew knows their stuff.  They named several I had no idea whom they were talking about.  Superheroes are cool, able to do amazing things that we can’t.  I remember thinking about what one superpower I’d want if I were offered such as that–it would be to be able to discern at a glance whether any food allergens were present.  But that’s another story.

Then we talked about real-life heroes and how they were real whereas the superheroes were not.  They named the standard police men and women, fire and rescue teams, ambulance drivers, military members, sheriffs, teachers, doctors, nurses…..and so on.  They had this down too.

I told them I wanted to tell them about two of my heroes.   Our Princess piped up, “Maemae and Cap!”  (Way to mess with my momentum, baby girl.)  I looked down at her, eyes blinking, for a moment.  She smiled and shrugged. “You told me they were your heroes one time.”

Well, she’s right.

They are.

I explained to this bunch of little people who had just had such an awesome week playing and imagining and running around together that the two people they all had in common are my heroes.

“You know why?”

The shook their heads.

“Because they were kind.  They didn’t leave anyone out.  They loved everyone.  What’s the first thing Maemae always did when you walked in her back door?”

My brother’s oldest piped up, “Give you a hug!”

Spot on.  Absolutely right.  That woman loved her hugs.  Giving and receiving them.

Before I could nod and confirm his answer, his younger brother shouted, “Ask you to take off your shoes!”

Ha.  Well yes.  Yes, she did.

And that was another thing that makes my parents my heroes.

They took care of what they had.  We did not grow up in a disposable household.  There was none of this, “oh well it’s okay if it breaks, we’ll just get another one.”  You took care of what you had–clothes, shoes, books, toys, dishes, everything–or you didn’t have it.

My parents were good stewards.  They saved and when they did spend it was well thought out and rarely on something frivolous.  They were good stewards of their money, of their home, of their time, of the land, of their children.

They took care of their things and of others.

And there was one more story I wanted to tell my little people.

“They also told the truth.  They spoke up for what was right, and what came out of their mouth was the truth, no matter how hard it was for them to stand up for ‘right.’  No matter how unpopular it made them.”

And now, as a parent, I can respect that so much more than when I was an embarrassed teenager.

A few weeks ago, my crew and I were watching an episode of “Girl Meets World.”  The daughter was struggling because, as a middle school student, she wanted to be popular with the “in” crowd.  In defense of her changed behavior and dress, she told her mom, “I’m popular with at least five people.”  Her mom (Topanga, for those of you who remember “Boy Meets World”) replied, “Well is one of those five you?”

Well.

That kind of truth is what I was raised with.  Speaking truth and living true to who we are.

It is interesting that to this day, the ones I hold in highest regard and admire as heroes (a word I don’t use lightly) are kind, take care of all that is around them, and speak the truth, no matter how difficult that may be.

After I shared about why Maemae and Cap are my heroes, the littles had their own stories to share.  It was neat to hear the memories all the littles had of my parents, their grandparents, and it was just as important for me to listen to their stories as it was for them to hear mine.  I think that is what family does best, when they sit down together and just “be”–they carry on the stories for those who have yet to come to hear.

Wishing you all someone to share your stories with, and someone to share their stories with you.  Those are really the only things no one can take away from us.

Love to all.

 

 

Haiku Week, Part 5

Those gatherings where the adults know each other but the children not as much, and by the end when it is time to leave, the children know each other better and have laughed more than any of the adults. Yeah those. Ever been to one?

The funny thing is–on the way home from such as this–I have asked my littles what their new friend’s name is. Most times I get a shrug. They don’t know, but they do know everything else about their buddies. They know the stuff that matters. I love it.

Family Reunion

laughter and giggles
children playing, joy abounds
making memories