Monday, June 16, 2008

Fitting In? Or NOT!

A homeschooling mom friend of mine found this quotation recently, which really strikes a chord with me.

It is no measure of health to be well adjusted to a profoundly sick society.- Jiddu Krishnamurti

Last Fall, a panel of dads spoke to the MOPS group at Truro Church. I remember so little of what they shared, but one father talked about the goal of his parenting to be to help his young men learn to govern themselves. I kept those words in my heart--this is our goal, isn't it?

Today was a perfect example. As I have written, we have moved to a new church, closer to home since gas prices have crossed the $4/gallon mark. It isn't the 4-5 Sundays a month that were at issue--it is the fact that we were getting (delightfully) more involved at Truro, and that meant twice monthly small group meetings in Centreville or Manassas, and MOPS meetings one Thursday night a other services, meetings, playdates, homeschool co-op, etc. If we remained at Truro, we'd be wise to consider buying a home closer to the church by about 10 miles or more.

After Sunday's service at our new church all parishioners are welcomed into a reception of fresh fruits, coffeecakes, and beverages. Little children take full advantage of their parents' social distractions and go hog wild running around in the open half the large auditorium-sized room, away from the food. We have attempted to reign our children in, as I believe running in the church is inappropriate, but it has seemed a fruitless attempt on our parts, as we are the only parents holding our children to this standard. I am frustrated by the chaos--there is a playground out the door, where I would prefer them to run freely, but all adults network where the central air is on, so if I want to keep an eye on my toddler and get to know families at Epiphany...well, there we are, indoors!

Our son loves the freedom this open room offers, and dives right in with the children who are still strangers to us. They run behind objects, hide behind curtains, play tag...and sometimes get so out of control as to cause accident or injury. Such was the case today when one little girl shoved my son to the floor, where he landed on a lady's Sunday-best shoe. He'll be black-n-blue, and I hope he learned a lesson from it, because that little girl was not the instigator--Logan had been shoving & slapping at the other side of the room, and had already been scolded by me...clearly ineffectively.

How can I help my son learn to govern himself?

This exact same situation occurred at my first cousin's wedding. A number of other little children were in the wedding party--and when they all got to the evening reception in a restaurant/bar, they began misbehaving as a pack. I continued to bring Logan back to my table & talk to him about his Best Behavior in a restaurant, which includes remaining at one's seat to eat at the table and only WALKING when necessary (not running, obviously) . I'd turn my head to talk to someone (say, my aunt, whom I had not seen in a decade), and he would disappear into disobedience again. It was less than an annoyance; it was endangering to himself, the restaurant staff, and others at the reception. Children do not belong under foot in a public establishment where hot coffee is held high over the shoulder of an unsuspecting server! But, my father took him outside swiftly for a firm talking-to...and, he was terrified. Did he learn?

How do we instill values into our children that remain when we are not there to hawk over them, correct them, or watch as natural consequences unfold? When he wants to wear long sleeves in 90 degree weather, I let him, as I secretly stuff a T-shirt in my bag in case his health is in danger later--otherwise, let him learn about appropriate attire from sweating! My words of caution have not been enough, after all.

So, as we homeschool, we swim upstream. As we raise our children to love & serve Christ, we swim upstream. As we ask them to exhibit proper manners in all public arenas, we apparently swim upstream! I'll tell you what--this momma salmon is plum tuckered out on a day like today. But, I just love, love, love that quotation. It is no measure of health to be well adjusted to a profoundly sick society. SMART, and right on!!

In just one verse in Scripture on this very topic of "swimming upstream," Jesus put it this way: If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first. If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you our of the world. That is why the world hates you.(John 15:18-19, NIV)

My mother always said this:
Do not forget in the dark what you know in the light.

So, to make sure to train up our children to KNOW in the LIGHT is the key, isn't it? So that we can TRUST them with more & more as they grow?

I saw this handsome young man, two rows ahead of me this morning, stand & walk forward to be recognized for graduating from high school, and serving as an acolyte for eight years at Epiphany. EIGHT YEARS! Now, that has got to be not cool by worldly standards, but there was nothing but attractive, popular, athletic and humble all over him. That is a boy growing to be a Man. That is a family who must be bursting with relief.

So, it is my prayer--protection for my children; a desire to serve Christ, His Church and His people; a governing of themselves, and health within, not measured by the world's standards. Whew. We have a long way to go!

Baby steps. One verse at a time. One prayer every night.

p.s. Is it a "socialization" issue that those other children (all but two others public-schooled) are running amuck, while my child is suspected as being "unsocialized" as a homeschooler? What does it mean to be "socialized?" I'd say understanding the rules of SOCIETY is a good start. Adult rules. Safety rules. Common decency. Politeness. Consideration of others.

My son will not be socialized by other 5-year-olds, who lead him into trouble! Is that the question on the minds of those who suppose an unschooled child to be unruly, wild & incapable of interaction? I see something completely different from my side of the fence: children kept apart from the influence of their parents beginning at a very young age; children who are brought up by a couple dozen adults by the time they leave high school--all of whom give them a different sense of morality, community & responsibility. For us there is One Standard. We can teach that to them better than the public schools, which cannot even mention Christ at CHRISTmas... ugh.

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