Do you ever compare yourself, your parenting, your kids, your husband or your house? Do you scan your girlfriend’s living room with those cute matching throw pillows and that neatly arranged pile of books on her dust-free coffee table and wish that you could just see the surface of your coffee table which is currently hidden under stray Legos, 15 overdue library books and a couple of sippy cups that may or may not be in the process of fermentation?
Or maybe you’re avoiding that family from church, whose kids are always impeccably dressed and well behaved because you’re not sure with your kids brushed their teeth this morning, let along brushing their hair.
And there’s that mom you know is going to ask what your son is doing after graduation just after she finishing telling you about her child’s full scholarship.
In my last podcast I talked about how my perspective on today’s workforce has changed since we purchased a restaurant 3 years ago. It changed, but not for the better. I covered the history of work and how men used to form at least part of their identity from the work that they did. Thomas Baker was a baker. James Carpenter built things from wood. I also mentioned that work was once viewed as necessary for survival. Laura Ingalls Wilder understood that in order to survive through the long winter in the Big Woods, they’d need to grow and store their own food, amass a stockpile of dry wood for the fireplace and maintain their livestock. Children in previous decades shared in the responsibility of work at home and they often watched work in action.
In my last podcast, I explained how the stay-at-home worker, computers and cell-phone are changing the face of work, such that children may no longer understand the difference between work and play.
Now let’s consider some more factors in the equation and come up with a few concrete antidotes that insure we are better teaching our children how to work.
My perspective on work has evolved since we became the owner/operators of a small family restaurant. Before we assumed the role of employers, I hadn’t given more than a cursory thought to my children’s future employment situation. I mean, I knew they must have jobs and I recognized the importance of discussing vocations with my children, but I was unaware of the very real problems that are facing today’s youth when it comes to their long-term employment picture.
Now as an employer, I no longer enjoy that ignorance. Now I see first-hand the sad results of what happens when the workforce is ill-prepared for the duties of work.
How do you do it? That’s the question you’re sure to be asked when you tell someone new that you home school your children. Be it the curious customer standing behind you in the grocery store line or cousin Ed at the family reunion, someone, or better yet someones, are going to want to know if you are actually sane enough to make such a choice and they’ll test your mental stability by asking for an explanation.
And, if one of your home schooled kids is in close proximity, the inquisitor will also quiz little Johnny on his ABC capabilities and his grasp of the American system of democracy. Be ready. Continue reading →
Springtime in my fourth grade year, they lined us up, boys on one side, girls on the other. The boys got shuffled off into one classroom, while we girls got ushered into another. Giddy and curious, we whispered and fidgeted while the teacher set-up her materials. That was the day I first heard about periods. By the end of the lesson, I knew enough to utilize a maxi-pad and understood the general gist of the fact that my body could one day grow a baby.
Over the years, my knowledge pool would grow (I’d graduate to tampons, discover Motrin for cramps and get myself put on contraceptives). But aside from the basic facts of menstruation and the understanding that I was fertile, the extent of my education hadn’t increased far beyond that fourth grade lesson. No worries though, my annual trips to the gynecologist were enough to leave me feeling confident that I had it all under control. Continue reading →
“Your children are so well-behaved,” says the woman in the pew behind us. “We enjoy sitting near your family in Mass,” reports an older couple.
My husband and I hear these kinds of comments frequently. But before you judge me a braggart and quit reading, let me say that it has taken a lot of hard work (and maybe a bit of blood, sweat and tears) to make parenting look easy inside of the pew.
From the early morning battles to wake a sleepy head to the perpetually missing church shoe, we know first-hand the real life struggles (like loading 10 individuals into a maxi-van by 8am on Sunday morning). Additionally, there’s the antsy toddler and small-bladdered, elementary schooler to contend with during the gospel.
Truly, with 8 (strong) personalities in our care, you have to know that we fully understand the challenge of getting to and sitting in Mass every week.
Growing up as what you’d call a cradle Catholic, I lived in an area of the country where Catholic churches demarcated the boundaries within every town. In my hometown, there were three. Sacred Heart on the south-side, St. Thomas on the north-side and St. Valentine’s smack-dab in between. Each boasted a grammar school and your parish (as well as your allegiance) was dictated by your address.
Coming of age in that setting, I considered my faith a de facto component of who I was. Just like my mother, grandmother and great-grandmother before me, in the line of my great-uncle the priest and eldest aunt the Sister, I was a Catholic.
Standing there in the aisle of Toys ‘R Us, my eyes darted left then right. It was such a hard decision; choosing how to spend my birthday money.
I can’t recall how many aisles we’d visited, but I do remember settling myself among the baby dolls. There were babies that cried and those that wet. There were molded-haired dolls and ones with blonde locks ready for brushing.