Monday, April 20, 2009

Here I Go Again.....

I received a call last week from a co-worker in the company I drive school bus for. This woman told me she had some questions about homeschooling and was given my name as someone who might be able to answer them.

Cool, I thought. The topic of homeschooling just happens to be one of my passions, and if I can encourage anyone along the pathway, or help them to decide to take that route, I'm very eager to help.

She asked me how a person would go about getting registered, how records are kept, that sort of stuff. Then, just when I was warming to the subject, she burst my bubble. The reason she was asking me these questions was because she was planning to "report" a negligent homeschooling mother, and was hoping that I could tell her whom she should call. I gave her the information she sought, and hung up the phone, much troubled.

It stuck with me all day and into the next. So, I decided to give her a call and have a little chat.

I asked her, very kindly (honest....), how she knew for sure that this mother was being negligent. I informed her that some of the benefits of homeschooling was that school could be done at many different times of the day, many hours less a day than the typical public schooler, and with many different learning styles or approaches to schooling. Just because she didn't see this child having school did not necessarily mean that they weren't doing their schoolwork. She informed me that she just knew (reassuring me that she understood all of the points that I made), but that she just knew because she knew the family.

Here is what I really wanted to ask her if I could have asked her with the right spirit:

1) Have you ever reported the parent and/or teacher of a public school child?
2) If not, then why not?
3) Can you honestly tell me that in all of your years of dealing with public schools that you have not met at least one child who was not doing well in school?
4) If a child had "slipped through the cracks", then whose fault was it, the parent(s) or the teacher(s)?

Like I said, I am a very strong homeschooling advocate. However, I do realize, especially since driving a school bus, that there are situations where attending a public school is in the best interest of the child. I drive these types of children around all the time - children whose parents would be incapable of teaching their child themselves. I have very much come to admire the service that these teachers and schools provide for these children.

But..........this is what I also see: I see children that do not know how to spell their last name IN GRADE THREE. I see a grade eight girl who told me that it was only three years ago - in grade five - that she was able to read for the first time the type of chapter books my daughter is reading now, in grade one.

When I was in grade 12, I had an excellent English teacher, one who actually still believed in oral reading. She regularly had the class read out loud. In GRADE 12. Guess how many could actually oral read at a Grade 12 level? About a half dozen. That's six, total. Out of over 20 students.

And so I wonder, if I, or anyone else for that matter, were to take the approach that my co-worker is planning to take on a homeschooling mom - then where on earth would we even begin with the public schools? Whose fault is it when a child is passed on from grade to grade without even knowing how to read? Whose fault is it when a child in grade three can't even spell her last name? How do kids make it through to the end of their public school education with the oral reading level of a grade school child?

WHO IS AT FAULT? The parents or the teachers? Or both?

I realize that there are some negligent homeschooling parents. However, statistics hugely support the success of homeschooling as a whole, in every aspect - not just academically, but socially as well.

And it comes down to this: If a person is going to take to task the negligence of a homeschooling parent(s) - real or imagined - then please use that same principle to ensure that everyone in your circle of influence is getting as good an education as possible in the public system.

Maybe it will even help out the public education system in the long run......

Thursday, April 16, 2009


My granny is a grand, spunky lady who is close to 90 years old. She is independent, classy, has a fantastic sense of humour, and is very quick witted. She spent some of Easter Monday with us and gamely spent some time painting with Hannah, so I had to get a picture of it.

The next day, Seffie got sick. I consider myself very blessed to have extremely healthy kids. It's been a long time since either of them have been sick. He had a sore throat, runny nose and felt like he was going to "frow up". He got a little worse on Wednesday and eventually did frow up a little, but is now on the mend.

My Hannah played Florence Nightingale to him. In the morning she made his bed (without anyone asking her to), waited on him hand and foot, got his couch-bed ready, got him more Gatorade (our upset-tummy-drink-of-choice) and continually told me that she would "take care of him". She is in her element when she can help like this and I really appreciated her sweet attitude.

Unfortunately, Florrie has now come down with her brother's illness and is in bed, moaning and groaning that her throat is sore and her nose is stuffed.

So, I'm off to nurse my girl. I'm quite certain that tomorrow her little brother won't be resuming the role of Florrie for his big sister. He'll be too busy celebrating his good health and running around like mad, driving everybody crazy.

Good night.

Friday, April 10, 2009

About Giraffes

A conversation with my son today went like this:

"Mom, "a" (as in a short "a" sound) is for astronaut!"

"Very good, Seth," was my reply.

"Mom, "du" is for duck!" was his next statement. A chuckle escaped from me, much to his delight.

"Qua is for quilt!" I was impressed by this one. I didn't realize he knew is "q" sounds. He then finished with:

"And "dr" (sounding like "dru", short "u" sound) is for..................................................draff!"...(you know....those long necked creatures).

Time to bring out the old books, I guess.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

My "Don't Wanna Be" Five -Year-Old

Five years ago today, Dave and I were blessed with our baby boy. I was absolutely shocked to have a boy. I felt certain I was having another girl and was content with that. There were no sons on either side of the family, so I was sure we were meant to have daughters only.

I'll never forget that final push; our baby arriving; blessed relief; hearing our baby's healthy cry; Dave cutting the umbilical cord; and finally remembering to ask what we had.

And Dave very quietly - I honestly think he was choked up - telling me we had a son. I remember my doctor (she was the same doctor who attended the delivery of all of my nieces) saying that the "the mold was broken - we now had a boy in our family".

I remember my mom and youngest sister crying as I called them first to tell them. My mom had a grandson. My sister had a nephew.

I remember Dave's sister exclaiming in delight, "I KNEW IT!" There was finally a boy to carry on the name.

I remember the feeling I had of having a son, and a daughter. The Million Dollar Family. A firstborn girl. A son to carry on the family name.

I remember how happy I was that my husband had a son.

I remember the hours that I walked the halls - it was a slow labor, even for my second - arguing with Dave (getting rather ticked at him in the midst of my.....ummm....discomfort) over a girl's name. We had already settled on Seth for a boy, but I was certain we were having a girl.

And I remember Dave telling me a while later that he had believed that God told him we were having a boy, but he just never told me. And to think that man argued with me over a girl's name while in labor. I mean, why couldn't he let me pick any ridiculous girl's name I wanted if he knew we were having a boy anyway, just to make me happy? I tell ya, sometimes men deserve a good smack. :)

My adorable Seffie, at 7 months of age. Unlike his sister, he changed dramatically in his looks as a newborn until now.

One of the most recent pictures I have of Seth, taken in February at the Phoenix Zoo. The little cutie pie.

We had a birthday party last night for Hannah and Seth. It was a late night, but the kids went to bed happy. However, today, his actual birthday, wasn't quite the same. He was a grump all day. Now that the sun comes up much earlier, he cannot sleep in. Consequently, I made him lie down this afternoon. When he woke up, he called me, so I went in and snuggled him for a bit. I reminded him that he was now a big FIVE-YEAR-OLD boy and no longer four.

"I don't wanna be five mom!"

Surprised, I asked why he didn't want to be five.

"Because I don't wanna be six! And six comes after five!"

Shocked even more, I asked him why he didn't want to be six.

"Because when I'm six, I'll lose my tooth! And I don't wanna lose my tooth!"

Tonight in church, the little goose drew me this picture. Of ME. His Mother. I felt special.

Signed by the artist himself. And I ask myself: Did I have bags under my eyes today? Particularly in my left eye?

Either that or I ran into the door frame.

At least I was much, much slimmer. And that works for me.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

The Negotiator

I feel like I have to preface this story about my son with a little rant, first. Those of you who do not believe in spanking your kids, this post is NOT for you. However - and this is where I'm going to rant for a bit - spanking is a God-given recommendation for parents to use appropriately. Notice I used the word appropriately. I do not believe in beating my kids. But I do believe in spanking their bottoms when they disobey. Frankly, I'm feeling quite tired of defending my position. The Almighty God, Creator of every person, advises NOT to spare the rod, but we super intelligent, know-it-all human beings think we know more than the One who created us. And so many parents have lost their way.

Now that my rant is out of the way.....

My son usually listens to Jungle Jam, a kids broadcast similar to Adventures in Odyssey, while riding the bus. This has truly been a lifesaver, helping to keep him out of trouble.

It stopped working today, at the very beginning of our 1.25 hour bus ride.

And yes, monkey boy got into trouble. He wouldn't sit on his seat and made faces and goofed around nonstop. Contrary to my advisement otherwise. So, after dropping off the kids at my first school, I told him that when he got home he was getting a spanking. He decided that since he had blown it anyway, he might as well blow it good, and his behaviour got even worse.

Even if there would have been a slight chance that I forgot to spank him, he wouldn't let me forget it. I mentioned that we were going to an appointment shortly after we got home, only for him to correct me.

"No mom. First you're going to spank me, remember?"

What could I say to that? I wondered if he was just being a smarty pants at first, but came to realize that it was just weighing heavily on his mind because he couldn't stop talking about it. He then began his negotiations.

"Mom, how about you just pull my ear instead?" I have used this method at times as a direct correlation to him not listening.

I told him that wouldn't be happening.

"Mom, how about instead of pulling my ear, you poke it?" he again tried.

This was while driving the bus, with kids on it. I must confess that I felt a strong urge to laugh.

After I dropped off the last group of kids, he started again, even more seriously.

"Mom, how about just poking my ear?" he repeated.

I told him again that I would be spanking him.

"Mom, please don't spank me hard," he requested. Now by this time I wasn't even upset anymore, but I realized that I had to carry through with what I had told him would happen. I was silent because I was afraid I would laugh, and my silence made him nervous.

"Mom, if you spank me hard, do it gently."

His sister couldn't help herself at this statement. A chuckle escaped her.

"Mom, if grandma was here, she would LOCK YOU IN JAIL FOR THE DAY!" was his dire prediction.

At home, he flew through the door, scrambled out of his rubber boots, immediately sat down on his bum (in case I was right behind him) and slid UP the stairs on his bum, protecting it the whole time. I told him to go to his room to prepare for his spanking, all the while thinking, "Mark Lowry, eat your heart out".

At the end of the day, his three swats on the bum didn't kill him (imagine that?), and I still managed to get my 346 kisses and 93 hugs from him.

Hmm. Maybe parents need to take a lesson from that (myself included, because I do forget sometimes). I really do think he loved me MORE.

He even came out of his room with his listening ears attached.