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Perspective in everyday life

I know a fair few families going through some tough times right this minute. Last year was an extremely difficult year for a family who lost their child to an incurable cancer.

A couple of years ago, a dear friend of mine had a son who had a bone degeneration which was so rare, doctors had difficulty treating it. He healed, miraculously.

Last year, our family went through 6 months of unemployment and strapped finances.

The year before, 2015, was so difficult for us, that I had no idea what the future would look like, where we would be, if we would still be a family, and who would be there to support us. But here we are. Survived. Safe. Together. This time was so painful, I am still unable to speak of it, even to close friends.

The years before, in 2013 and 2014, we were facing the possibility of having to choose whether our unborn child should be aborted or survive but with severe complications. Miracles do happen, and he is now a beautiful 3 year old who loves fans.

And as I sit here, watching two of my children drawing and colouring, the Sun’s rays floating through the window, gracing our beautiful family home full of peace and security, I can only sit here and be absolutely thankful for just this moment.

I am happy for all these little moments of peace. This is our year of peace.

This morning, I read an article in The Age newspaper regarding a father of 3 who was serving a 3 month prison sentence for what ever reason (they did not say), who killed himself whilst in custody. So far, 20 men have died whilst in custody in a Victorian Prison, with just over 7000 men are currently being held.

Now many people might read this article and not bat an eyelid because, he’s a “criminal”, he got what he deserved, he had to do the time for the crime, so forth. But what I saw there, was a mother of three children, waiting for this nightmare to end, waiting for the father of her children to return. And he never did.

Because the prospect of going to jail is extremely difficult for a man, or anyone, with a supposedly normal life. You lose your job, your reputation and mostly, people support the family who is left behind, and not the man. The fear of bullying on an immense scale, and no adequate protection because hey, they’re just ‘criminals’, also builds fear in a man. The article speaks about NOT being able to provide mental support adequately to all of the 7000 inmates, and this unfortunately they say, is what led to his suicide.

It is unacceptable for anyone to commit a crime, I understand this. But the death of this man has left 3 children without a father, THEIR father.

I am so thankful for what I have. I have a husband who has a job, a secure job, a house and three healthy children, who are happy, secure and safe. I am forever thankful and grateful for the life I have, because every single blessed moment is a graceful gift in my life. I am a Christian, and my daily walk with Jesus has blessed me so immensely. My faith has shown that in the trials we have walked through, the grace and love so abundantly given has allowed me, so gracefully to enjoy these moments and be thankful.

I am fortunate. I have had many people pray for us during our times of trials. We had fantastic support that if where not for them, their presence, their prayers and physical help, we would not be where we are today, sitting in the sun enjoying our children.

Articles like this are horrible, but they do help remind me to be thankful, even when children have tantrums, behavioural issues and minor health concerns; even when talking about oscillating fans for the 30th time before breakfast is doing my head in, even when husband and I argue once again about how to raise the children, even when we have spent more this month than we have earned… I am thankful that life is beautiful, normal and secure. I am thankful that my children are able to think about their interests and chase them, I am happy that my husband is here, has a secure job and I can just be with my children.

See it is all about perspective. I hear a lot of parents say, and rightly so, that they cannot wait for school holidays to end because the children can be so difficult to handle sometimes. It simply isn’t natural to bow to someone’s every whim and wish, to entertain them in the name of bringing them up well. I get that. But if you were faced with a child who had cancer, or the loss of income, or the loss of your home, or the loss of your freedom, or the possible loss of your own life… it’s suddenly all beautiful… the perspective of your life drastically changes. And if you have been fortunate enough, like we were, to be given so many second chances… and to finally have things as they are for the majority of us… you are simply thankful for the opportunity. You will see things differently.

My heart goes out to those 20 families and communities that this year, have been affected by the death of these men. As much as the media might sensationalise crime and that most criminals are tough, without emotion etc… these are men with families, these are men with mums and dads, these men lost their way…. and their lives, unlike mine, will never be the same again.

I am simply thankful. And I have my year of peace. Because every single moment is a blessing. And my trust and faith in God will guide me through, knowing that the future is never set. I am simply thankful, for this moment.

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The Competition Era

I sometimes wonder if the human race is the only species that still fights for survival even when food, shelter and more than ideal circumstances are so over abundant. Are we the only species that needs to keep feeling that enough is never enough? Why are some people constantly fighting, and others feel quite happy to ‘settle’ with not much?

Some people (including me) feel that for families to function well, that they stick together.  A long time ago, boys use to stay with their fathers as the fathers worked the land, worked on their trade or went to hunt. Girls would stick with their mothers. There is something so beautiful about this journey, where a child can always feel safe to explore and learn from their world, and always look up to the person that loves them unconditionally.

We have wonderful labels for eras of the past. Ancient times, Medieval, Renaissance, Industrial etc.

I have a feeling that when people look back on us, right here, right now, they would call us the ‘Competition Era’.

Why?

Because we living in a time where we pit our children against each other, rank them against each other, and put them through a rigorous timetable to ensure that they are the best.

Because when children are born, we feed them the thoughts that they will be the best, and can be anything they want to be, as long as they believe and work hard. We also sacrifice so much of ourselves so that our kids can reach potentials that are years (sometimes decades) in the waiting. Maths and English classes on weekends, language classes, practicing musical instruments; I know a lot of very accomplished children who are far more ‘talented’ than mine… but you simply cannot put “I have a great dad because he listens to me when I’m scared” on a piece of paper that is of any significance in THIS current world setting, and that’s the problem.

Also, we are in an age that has FULL access to what is going on around the world. It is the first time ever that the entire human race knows about what is going on to people around the world. Funnily enough, to be human, you would think that we would do all we can to assist, give and help those who are not just less fortunate than us, but those that are actually dying, starving and suffering so badly on the other side of the world.  Instead, you will find, that most of us may give $30 a month, as long as it doesn’t inconvenience us too much, to these people.

But in this Era, the Competition Era, it is not what is defined as human. We have been taught to take care of ourselves. We have been taught that no one else will help us if we do not first help ourselves. It is a time where competition of being the smartest, fastest, prettiest, most talented etc is being instantly displayed on social media, for instant self gratification. Our motivation in life is no longer (for the majority) to help and assist those who are suffering so badly, they watch their children die, or the homeless right here in our own streets. Our motivation in life is purely for ourselves, our little circle or people.

I believe that the world is slowly starting to shift, and this is where and why homeschooling is making a remarkable increase all over the world. Suddenly we see that to set out children in competition with each other doesn’t teach our children life skills, how to love others, how to actually survive in this world, how to be human. We see competition, rankings and a full schedule as a fast track way to tell our children that family connections come a far second to self gratification and academic/monetary success.

We teach this to our kids the moment we rush them out the door to go to a really great school that we lovingly paid for. We teach this to our kids when we rush them from school to their violin/soccer/gymnastics/swimming lessons, and tell them to suck it up and do better, and why can’t you just get better at that/get into that league/get that mark? The pressure we hold on our kids is required because WE are putting in the effort to pay for the privilege, as well as sacrifice our own lives to ensure that they have these privilege.

Some would see this as love.

But when the kids are young, this is not what they see.

Love to a child is focused attention, slow conversations, cuddles, attention on things that matter to them (no matter how silly or useless we think they are) and not rushing through those very crucial conversations regarding difficult emotions. Love to a child is make believe games involving parents, rough play and lots of doing what makes them happy.

We are in a Competition Era as we speak. However, some of us are choosing to live a very different life, and choosing that for our children. Because we want our children to grow up knowing that family connections, are more important than anything this world has to offer.

Mental health, homeschool and happiness

Sometimes it’s difficult to write a post on how our days have been. And this isn’t because it’s difficult to write about. Simply, every time I write about how wonderful, amazing and fulfilling a day has been, I realise that it absolutely comes across as arrogant, conceited and to be honest, showing off. This is never the intention.

See, most days for me, ever since taking this journey of homeschooling with my three children, is wonderful, it is fulfilling and most days are amazing. Hard days are days when no one (including me) wants to do the work, and instead, we go to the local trampoline bouncing play centre and have 5 hours of jumping fun (pelvic floor training fun). Hard days where little kids throw tantrums and cannot regulate their emotions become our hug days, where we bake cupcakes together, hug it out on the couch whilst reading a funny book that has no pictures.

This was a far cry from the end of last year, where I was booking appointments for mental health experts for Mr. 6; paediatricians, child psychologists, having conversations with them over the phone about what is wrong with him, booking assessments.

Today, he is simply a very different child.

I asked Mr. 6 today five reasons why he likes being homeschooled. Here they are:

  1. After “work” time, I get to play and I get to play a lot.
  2. I love break times where we eat together.
  3. I love being with my brother and seeing him be silly.
  4. I like seeing friends and playing with them for the whole day.
  5. I like staying inside when it’s cold and not rushing in the morning.

Sometimes I feel the need to check with my children, to see if everything is okay, and they are happy. Is this working out, is homeschooling making you happy, are you happy with the way things are. And the reason is, is that the reason why I first started to homeschool, was simply because my children’s mental health is of the utmost important to me.

Now yes, every parent would probably say the same. Why would a parent say anything different?! But the little man I have this year, and the little man he was last year, are two completely different little men. Something has shifted, and an overall confidence has replaced a scared and shy little boy. School and kinder may not have directly done that to him, no, but it’s more what is HIS priority. Being away from family was the issue. And when you look at his responses to what makes him happy about homeschooling, you can see why he is finally being fed.

Mr. 6 is no longer chronically shy (he is still cautious but no longer shy), loves making friends and being around them, but more than anything, he is happy, secure and confident in what he does, how he talks and who he is… everyday.  I have had many people tell me just how different he is this year, and how he has changed. To me, it is nothing short of miraculous to see Mr. 6 sometimes steal the limelight from our very bold Miss 5.

Mental health is such a major issue in Australia. We are spending $8 billion each year to just treat mental health issues. It is stated that almost half of all Australians have had a mental health issue, and 1 in 7 children between 4 – 17 years old have a mental health issue currently being treated. My son was nearly this child.

In such an affluent country, why is the prevalence of mental health so high, and why is the expenditure on it so very high?

Health Direct’s website advise the following 8 tips for good mental health:

1. Build relationships
Having good relationships with other people is the most important factor contributing to a sense of wellbeing. This can include family, friends, workmates and others in the community. Investing time and energy in your relationships can lead to great benefits for all involved.
2. Exercise and stay healthy
Exercise has been shown to increase wellbeing as well as reduce symptoms of depression and anxiety. Good physical health is related to better mental health so a healthy diet, avoiding excess alcohol or drugs, and regular checkups with the doctor can all help.
3. Develop gratitude
Count your blessings. Try keeping a gratitude journal and write down 3 positive things for each day. This can lead to increased wellbeing.
4. Identify and use your strengths
We all have different strengths and weaknesses but finding out what you are really good at and using those talents can increase wellbeing. A strengths questionnaire is available at Authentic Happiness. Using your strengths to help others or contribute to the community creates a sense of meaning and purpose.
5. Create flow
Flow is the state of being so highly involved in an enjoyable activity that you lose track of time. This usually happens when the level of challenge is about right for your level of skill. Flow can happen during work, hobbies, creative arts or sports.
6. Give to others
Making a contribution to the community, however small, increases social wellbeing. Many people feel a sense of contributing through meaningful work, but this could also mean volunteering, helping a neighbour or performing small acts of kindness. Take some time to do the things you really enjoy. Pleasant events can lead to positive emotions that can cancel out negative feelings.
7. Spirituality or religion
For some people, being involved in spiritual or religious practices can improve wellbeing, help in coping with stress and reduce symptoms of mental illness. This can include belonging to a faith community, meditation, prayer, mindfulness or practices such as yoga and Tai Chi.
8. Seek help
If you are struggling to feel happy, cope with everyday life, find meaning or feel connected to others, see your doctor or a mental health professional. 1 in 5 Australians will experience a mental disorder at some time in their life – depression, anxiety and substance abuse are the most common disorders.

 

Mental health problems are caused by so many issues. Now, I am not a mental health expert. But I cannot help join some dots in wanting to understand why it is such an issue. Why are people simply not happy? Is it because society’s expectations on our youth too demanding? Are we trying to put our kids through too much so they won’t miss out? Is it social media? Is it the iPad addiction? Is it the foods we feed our kids? What could it possibly be.

When we first have our kids, when we hold our child for the first time, we are just so happy they are here. We are so happy they are safe, and alive and our lives change because they are here. They are so precious to us, they could be covered in scales or have 3 eyes, we would still love them with all of our being.

But suddenly when they start life, we want them to be the best. Either we start to live through them, or we just want them to never be second. We want them to be the best ‘them’ they can be. And this expectation makes us see things in them, such as their strength, their musical ability or their intelligence. We sign them up for activities to enhance this, we sign them up for the best schools, we sign them up for things to make them the best. Surely, to be your best, you will be happy. We rank them, we judge them, we work so hard to spend money on all these opportunities… to make them happy.

But they aren’t. They simply, are not happy.

Here’s another idea.

This is the link to the Australian Curriculum. The first welcoming paragraph of this website reads this:

The Australian Curriculum sets the expectations for what all Australian students should be taught, regardless of where they live or their background. For F-10, it means that students now have access to the same content, and their achievement can be judged against consistent national standards. Schools and teachers are responsible for the organisation of learning and they will choose contexts for learning and plan learning in ways that best meet their students’ needs and interests.

What I see here are words such as ‘expectations’ and ‘achievement can be judged against’. When I read this for my Mr. 6 and my Miss 5, it makes my heart ache. Because I don’t see words like, helping children flourish in their “Natural Flow” (point 5 of the mental health recommendations), connect with families and community (point 1), identify and develop their individual strengths (point 4), giving to others and also spirituality (point 6 and 7, which incidentally, spirituality has been removed from most public school curriculums). At this time, the only expectation I have of my children, is that they are truly happy.

If you are not aware, homeschooling in Victoria is going to take a bit of a shift as of January 2018, due to new regulations that will require all new registered homeschoolers to summit a plan for the year, be ready for checks, and possibly, a requirement to stick to the Australian Curriculum for the children you are teaching.

I have read all the requirements for Foundation, Grade 1 and Grade 2 (all 600 pages thus far) to just simply get ready for this. I am currently changing my homeschool to ensure I am within the requirements.

But nothing here… tells me how my children are going to benefit. It simply tells me what is expected, what they should achieve and how this achievement will be measured. It does not teach my children perseverance through mistakes, it teaches them that there is only one answer to every question, and it will be marked and judged. And simply, if it doesn’t measure up because rather than getting his reading up to scratch, he would rather learn the periodic table’s list of elements, they are advising that possibly, homeschooling will not be an option for him.

My beautiful family is happy. My beautiful son is a happy, free and secure child. I do not aspire for him to get 99.95. I do not aspire for him to be a doctor, or the next olympic swimmer, or the next Thomas Edison (although, he was homeschooled).

I aspire him to be happy.  I aspire them to be happy, and to know how to be happy.

Just like what they are now.

And some of you may say, yes, but will they be happy in years to come, without school friends, without certain opportunities, without all those activities and lessons, school sporting opportunities on weekends etc.

My response to that is this. If they have the best childhood, that is filled with happiness, with slow days, with cups of Milo whilst you mull over sums and reading, with warm hugs in the Sun whilst reading the Iliad and Shakespeare, watching the rain whilst indoors inside a warm doona, whilst helping your brother spell ‘poo’ and ‘wee’ and laughing at each other when mum finds out, whilst learning with your family and celebrating achievement instantly when you finally get it, slow family days that connect connect connect…

… they will carry with them something worth more than anything could ever buy.

They will have the confidence to follow their dreams, to achieve their interests and goals, and to strive for that idea.

They will have had time to connect with their family, with their community and grown a strong relationship around people who are feeding them positive messages about themselves, and not more aligned with society’s ideals of who they should be.

They will have had so much time to play, run, jump, kick, somersault, climb, each and every day that it will be so normal for them, that sitting down all day will be absolutely abnormal.

They will discover and develop their strengths, their interests and what makes them tick. They will find that element that makes time flow so fast, they won’t know that they’re working, studying or achieving set goals. They will have found their passion in life.

They will discover what it is to give to others, to consider others and to be thankful for what you have. Because they are not rushing from life goal to life goal, from activity to activity, they are focused on other things… and are able to allow deep thoughts on certain matters through time and having the space to do so.

And of course, they will understand their own spirituality, and what it is to be human.

A parent is always happy when their child is happy. My days are full of happy days, and our lives are fulfilled and warm. Schooling takes part, yes, but our homeschooling provides so much more than one on one teaching for our children, it gives them happiness, security, comfort, warmth and connectivity, delivered in a slow paced family orientated setting. I cannot think of a better start to life for any child than this.

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An Educated Guess – Why being a mum today is hard

For mothers, sometimes parenting is just an educated guess. Parenting can be very difficult, and at times we make decisions because we believe that that decision is the best.

And why is it so difficult? Was it easier for generations before us? Was it easier before technology? Was it easier when families were more connected?

My theory (and when I say theory, I mean thought process) is that back in the hunter gatherer days, back in the farming days, families and communities stuck to each other. When children socialised, it was with the communities that were already well established; parents, grandparents and friends already knew each other. The level of trust was already established prior to children being brought up. Information was handed down from father to son, from mother to daughter. Sons followed their fathers (and the wider male communities) whilst they hunted and learnt the skills. They had their meaning, they had their belonging. Daughters followed their mothers to catch small lizards, gather nuts and berries or prepare the food. There was a sense of connection and identity here.

Parenting was easier in this setting as the men were able to socialise with the men, the women socialised with the women (don’t you always feel energised in a group of chatting mums!) and the kids could run around like mad. If you have ever been in this setting and thought to yourself, “What a fabulous day”, maybe we can finally see how life was always suppose to be.

However, when I listen to parents and children these days, I hear about things like the generation gap. I hear about how ‘back in my day, things were harder/simpler/nicer/not as easy’, basically indicating that this generation doesn’t connect with theirs.  And in these very fast moving times, sometimes it is very difficult to pass on information that might be useful, because in fact, it simply is no longer relevant… or so we think.

In a short 120 years, we have had many wars. Two World Wars. The generation that raised children during the war, did it for survival. For these children, it must have been difficult to live without your parents, with little money and security. As these children grew up, they raised a generation wanting that security. These children are now our baby boomers. This generation is amazing. They lived in poverty as children, in a very insecure world, and as adults, they work hard, they invest and save, to ensure their future and their children’s future.

However, now comes something very tricky. The baby boomers gave extraordinary opportunities to their children, sometimes because these opportunities were not presented to them. This X and Y generation had lessons, fantastic schooling, toys, holidays, the latest this and that, friendships and above all… the freedom to focus on themselves. The frequent rhetoric of ‘Who do you want to be when you grow up?’ made children think that they could actually be anything they wanted to be.

But suddenly, we no longer knew our identity. And frequently as I was growing up, I felt people say to me that I would discover my identity when I was 15, then 18, then 21, then when I got married… But I continued to think, as with many young people today, “Who am I?”

What has happened to family connectivity? Why is it common place that we hear teenagers separating themselves from their parents, not wanting to be with them anymore and wanting to socialise more with their friends. Why do we hear teenagers speaking badly about the two people on earth who love them more than they love themselves? How did it ever get to this?

Is it because of all the advances in technology, in materialism, in the opportunities in life, or possibly, does the separation of children from their parents at a very early age, AS WELL AS the extraordinary pressure to succeed, fit in and ‘survive’ life mean that parents no longer matter.

Only in the last 30-40 years have we seen a surge in Aged Care. Yes, this is because of a very well cared for population who are living longer. But more than that, we are seeing people not being able to care for their parents any longer. We have become a society that is so busy and too caught up in doing well and giving our ‘future’ and children the best, that we must separate the care for our parents.

How did this ever happen?

So back to the title of this blog. An educated guess. It is difficult to get a sense of how our mums did life. If you are fortunate to have had a stay at home mum as your mum, you may have had more time to see her cook, see her take care of you and your siblings, you may have also had the pleasure of her guiding you through the hard times. And even if this was your best case… it still may not have been able to set you up for being a mother today.

Because today, there is the internet, society early sexualisation and certain social acceptabilities that come with this, there is dis-connectivity through TV, screens, there is heightened pressures on kids to ‘not miss out’ and be their best, drug related issues. What happens when you have a child who simply isn’t just naughty, but might have a behavioural problem or a learning disability, who just doesn’t fit in? When kids can’t hear well, or can’t speak well, when they aren’t hitting milestones, growing too slowly, growing too fast, what’s that lump, do you vaccinate, is panadol enough, should I go to hospital now, did they eat any veggies this week, what do you mean it’s PE day today, your stuffs in the wash…. Mums have to follow rules from play group, kinder, school, soccer clubs, ballet lessons, the right shoes, uniform, the right time, the right food, nude food, reading lists, dress up days, volunteer on behalf of your children, PTAs, some of us work, keep a clean house, be a good wife, a good daughter in law, be a good contributor to society…

There is so much pressure on us mums, too.

So sometimes when people ask me if what I am doing for my child is right. How do I know if homeschooling is right for my family.

The truth is, I don’t. I will never know 100% if homeschooling is right for my children. It is an educated guess. And I am prepared to wear the guilt, and to power through because I love them more than all the sacrifices that could ever be made. Because sending Mr. 6 to school when he simply does not want to be there is something I just could not do.

So lets start to be a bit less judging of our fellow mums, because mums these days have to make VERY BIG decisions for their children. Do you work really hard and long hours to send your children to private school? Well done. Good on you. It means you love your children and you want the very best for them no matter what. Do you send your children to the local primary school so they can be with their friends and you can pick them up and spend time with them, or take them to karate class? Excellent.  You are a brilliant loving mum who wants to connect and show your children you care. Do you homeschool your children because you want them to learn freely? You are amazing. You care so much for your kids that you are willing to give up your time (and additional income) to give that to them.

See we all love our children. And we are guided by what we have learnt through our upbringing. And in a world that is changing so fast, where generations do not quite understand each other as well as they did in the past, lets us mums stay connected and help each other bring the village back and raise our children together.

Hopefully somewhere in this educated guess, we can have teenagers that know how much we love them, we can raise young adults who not only respect and serve themselves, but also serve and respect their families and community, but most of all, we can raise self-assured and confident people… who could never doubt that their mothers love them.

Christian mum on Safe Schools…

So for those of you who aren’t from Australia, or who don’t know much about it, Safe Schools is a government funded program “aimed at creating safe and supportive school environments for same sex attracted, intersex and gender diverse people by reducing homophobic and transphobic bullying and discrimination in schools.” (Quote: https://www.education.gov.au/safe-schools-coalition-australia)

[Whether you are a supporter or not of Safe Schools, I urge you to please read to the end.]

Initially, when I first heard of it, I was intrigued, yet felt in my heart that it was not what I wanted for my children. I had set in my heart that schools should be a place were my children learn about English, Math, P.E, Arts, Digital IT stuff, History, Science and Geography.

I even heard a politician speak about Safe Schools at our local church and telling us ways to tell our Victorian Premier about how we felt.

So this is basically how I felt. I felt that my Christian faith, my children’s Christian faith, and my entire Family History… was being attacked. The fundamental notion of the Christian Faith is not to judge, far from it. It is to love. It is to love God with all your heart, mind and soul. It is to love one another as you love yourself.  Yet somewhere along the track, the world has somehow seen Christians as judgmental, bigots and … well, not exhibiting the love that is the basis of our faith. We are partly to blame, yes, for some of us had forgotten the basis of Jesus’ teachings.

So how can my children go to school now, and profess that they are Christian, when there is a consensus that Christians are judging the LGTBI community? Is my child allowed to pray to God during recess? Is he safe from bullying if he does? I had a lot to worry about.

 

Recently I met a mother. A lovely mother. Let’s call her Karen.

Karen has two children. She has a daughter. Karen also has a son. Let’s call him Peta. I get along with Karen very well. She, like me, adores her children, brings them to activities (aren’t we all just over-scheduled), doctors appointments, has family traditions, the same financial issues, and is a very caring mother.

I had noticed for some time however, that Peta and his sister… look identical. Being about 15 months apart, they are not twins. But you wouldn’t hesitate to guess that they are. You wouldn’t hesitate to guess… that they are twin girls.

It took me about 2 months before I asked the question. “So I noticed that Peta likes to dress like his sister.” There was no judgment. There was no ill intent in the question. And the look of relief on Karen’s face was enough to tell me, that this road she was travelling on was not easy.

She told me about the judgment she received everywhere she goes. She told me the pain she feels for when he will go to school next year and have to wear the boys uniform. She told me the comments and looks she gets when she takes her two children to the toilet, only to have the shocking comments of, “That girl has a penis! She’s a boy!” Her world was fine when she was at home, and surrounded by understanding family. But the world was a cruel place for her little Peta. He just didn’t know it yet.

Tears… ran down my face.

She asked me to try and imagine, telling my Miss 4, that she was a boy. No more tutus, no more dresses, no more long hair, no more barbie dolls or Disney princess lunch boxes. Here is your trousers, your shirt, your blue bag, your Avengers lunch box, and your truck toys. You have to wear these things, and like these things, because the world will judge you if you don’t.

She expressed to me that I was the first mother outside of her family she felt she could trust, and say all these things to. She knew I was a Christian, but never for one moment felt as though I would judge her.

So now I’m calling for a difference. A change in all our perspectives and understandings. 

I am a Christian. I am proud of it. I am not in any position to tell someone else how their live should be lived. I am simply here … to love.

There needs to be understanding in our next generation, and our next generation of Christians. We may not necessarily absolutely 100% understand or agree with someone else’s set of rules. We live in a multi-cultural land full of different religions, traditions, cultures and ways of living. How have we been able to embrace all forms of personal preferences and yet have such trouble with this one?

To all LGBTI out there, I am a Christian mother who embraces you. I love you. Jesus is real, and He came to this world to show and be LOVE. He didn’t come to earth to give us a set of rules and tell us Christians to judge and belittle those who do not obey them. He asked all of us Christians to love one another, with understanding, forgiveness and prayer. (Some Christians might get this wrong sometimes, we are human after all, we are not perfect. Please don’t judge Christianity purely on the bad things that happen.)

Your way of life may not be ours, but there are Christians out there, like me, who love you all the same. Do we have to dislike each other? Of course not.

Now this is the key.

If your community doesn’t hate my community, can’t we get along and be friends?

I am all for Safe Schools, if that also means that my Christian child is also safe, to be someone who practices their Christian faith.

Please don’t call us bigots because we still call ourselves Christian. The hurt you have endured is unimaginable, unnecessary and hurtful. The judgement you received (and mostly may have came from the Christian community) was wrong.

But please know that it is our children now, who are not safe. Please let our child be able to hold on to their faith, the faith that has held our family together, brought peace, love and hope to so many… Please let our children be free to pray to God, speak about Jesus… and love like Jesus.  I am not going to hide away in an attempt to keep my children ‘safe’. I am bringing them into the world, because I want them to know how to embrace, get along and love everybody.

To any Christians who feel their need to belittle, judge or express hatred, you need to understand that these are people. Actual, real people. We were called to love them. And show them the love of Jesus. Didn’t Jesus love everyone?

To any Safe Schools advocate who feels the need to tear down the fabric of Christianity, please remember… these are my children. My future. Our future. Please make schools safe for them too.

And maybe our next generation will be better than us. More loving. More understanding. More able to show you, how wonderful it is to feel the love of Jesus. And that you just have to be yourself… to know the love he has for all of you.

So yes, lets bring Safe Schools into the schools. But lets also make sure that Christian kids are safe too. Lets teach all our children to love each other, regardless of who we are, what we believe and what we have done. 

What a wonderful world it would be. Lets read that again.

Lets teach all our children to love each other, regardless of who we are, what we believe and what we have done. Lets teach other children to love. 

 

 

Too focused on academia

Lately, I think I have frustrated my very intelligent Mr. 5.

Because he is so bright, smart and has amazing insight into the world, I can’t help myself but try and stretch him more and more.

We had positives this week.
Our next door neighbour has a telescope that weighs more than I do. It has to be taken apart into pieces so you can transport it, and it requires a high degree of patience to learn how to use it. Our neighbour invited our entire family (and a super excited Alexander) over to see a couple of planets. Well, Alexander was there from 6:30pm to 11pm just waiting eagerly to see anything our neighbour had to show him. (He stayed with dad, I went home and went to bed with the other two kids.) He saw Saturn, Jupiter, the Sombrero Galaxy, a few Nebulas, and got a great view of the surface of the moon. He was on cloud nine and it renewed his want and love to be a rocket man.

He also showed great love for his sister (now Miss 4) on her birthday, and is always loving to Mr. nearly 2. He is starting to help independently clean the house and pick up toys, shoes, clothes (HALLELUJAH!).

But we had a negative yesterday and today. 
We sat down to do the sit down element of our homeschooling, namely, math.
Now, generally, Mr. 5 loves maths. He loves it because he’s good at it. So I upped it a little and instead of the usual times tables that he already knows by heart (1, 2, 10 and 11) due to their easy-to-remember principles, I gave him 3 and 5 and 9 this week.

Oops.

He tried and failed 2 times. And that was enough for him to give up. I couldn’t understand what I was witnessing. I asked him what was wrong, and he said, I just don’t like it when I get it wrong. I like it when I get it right all the time. I tried to explain to him that for you to improve, you are always going to have to get things wrong. But you keep trying and don’t give up, and you’ll get there.

But that didn’t work.

I had realised that this week, I pushed too hard. And this week is now called a stalled week. We’re going to stop the schooling this week, and just focus on cooking, craft, gardening and helping each other get the house ready for Miss 4’s birthday party this weekend. (Some would say that this is what you should do all of the time when you homeschool. I guess I feel that I need to be accountable to what they are doing and learning.)

But I forgot to do something so special, so crucial and it was the reason why I homeschooled.

If I homeschooled because I wanted my children to be smarter than everyone else, then I have already failed. If I am homeschooling because I believed that my children would be better off academically, and that they would be able to do this with less stress than their peers, then I have failed.

My reasons for homeschooling are these:

  • To have the time to develop a closer relationship with God.
  • To have the space to develop and grow with siblings.
  • To know who they are and love who they are.
  • To spend more precious time with my children, and allow them to know how much I love them.
  • To ensure they know the community and how they can contribute.

This is my mission statement. And I forgot it this week. I just wanted him to reach his best and fullest potential, that I changed my focus and forgot why I was doing this in the first place.

I am not homeschooling to prove anything. I doubt anyone homeschools to show how smart and perfect their children are.  If you felt your kids were so bright and perfect, why not send them to school and show the world? Homeschooling is not at all perfect and somedays are like an experiment.

I am homeschooling because their relationship with God, us, family, community and themselves is the most important aspects of their lives.

It doesn’t matter how smart they are, how sporting they are, how knowledgable they are (even though they are obviously incorporated into homeschooling). It matters that they know who they are, how to make themselves happy and how they can make the community a better place. And what I believe makes people most happy, is having valuable and meaningful relationships with those around them.

Lets pray that I can always remember this focus and not forget it… again.

The homeless

Today, our family went out to the city for a lovely outing. The weather was lovely and cool, and the city itself was not overcrowded. This usually means that if and when our youngest two run off in the crowd, we can still generally see them at a distance and not go through a blind panic trying to find them.

But as usual when we visit the city, we notice a lot of people sitting on the sides. These people are disheveled, unkept and sometimes holding up a cardboard sign asking for money. Some draw on cards and try to sell them. Some have a pet. But most are ignored.

Today, I brought my 5 year old son and my 3 year old daughter to meet and greet some of the homeless. We chatted to a lovely man who had a dog named Bella. We saw a man drawing intricate drawings on small cards. We wanted to find a regular homeless man named Graham Pierce. Graham has cerebral palsy.

The saddest thing to see is seeing people walking by these people, like they are invisible. My heart hurts for them, because in the end, they are in fact, people, just like we are. Somehow, life got the better of them and this is their only option. Whether it is in their minds through mental illness, domestic violence or they were given no choice, they are in this place.

The loveliest thing to witness was seeing my children speaking to these people, like they were friends; with respect, smiles and the pure non-judgemental innocence of a child. It was simply beautiful.

If a child can just speak to these people and make their worlds a little more bearable, I wonder what we can do as adults. Sometimes the teaching is not just from parent to child, but the other way around.

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