March 7, 2006

Living with our choices

Today we learned a good lesson today. A lesson about living with the consequences of your choices. I thought the day was going to teach this lesson to our dear Rhiannon, and it did. However, more importantly, the events of the day taught me the lesson in spades.

I will admit I was sick of fighting over math, sick of fighting to get Rhia to sit at the table and start schoolwork. It was Monday, our original plan of a fun day of unit studies with friends was squashed by Sirah's 2am fever and we were all in a bit of a funk. I know it did not help that I had laundry, dishes and plenty of clutter to pick up. Perhaps the combination of events led me to the brillant idea that I would not fight today. I would let Rhia make her bed and live in it. In the end it was I who made my bed and stayed in it.

At 9am I simply threw in the towel and said "You can still play now and choose when to start school but you will not eat lunch until you finish your work." Then I went on with other activities and waited. At 10:30 I retracted and told her she needed to start or she would not have time to get her work done before lunch. What followed over the next several hours was lots of pain for me.

Every inch took forever to accomplish as Rhia bucked at each suggestion and requirement. We went on with school until nearly 4pm! Yes I did relent and give her lunch at around 2pm and in case you think I give too much work to my darling young child I assure you her work could have easily been accomplished in a bit over an hour and certainly within 2 hours easily. So why did we then take over 5 hours to accomplish the task? Because I gave her too much choice and responsibility for which she was not ready to handle.

You see I want her to be able to control her own schedule and to make choices and start and finish when she wants but I need to realize this comes later and right now, given the type of child she is, Rhiannon needs clearly defined boundaries and guidelines. She needs structure and then she can have freedom within that structure. Today I simply overwhelmed her with a freedom and expectations she could not be expected to handle. The reality was she could not assess her our limitations here and I shirked my responsibility and left it to her. A weight too big for her little shoulders, though one she will be ready to carry in the too near future.

Serona used an analogy tonight when he was helping me realize that the fault was really my own even though I was frustrated with Rhiannon. In case you wonder, Serona is fair but if he leans anyway usually it is more strict on the kids and more leinant on me, the complete opposite of tonight which made me realize the truth in what he was saying. His analogy was on the eating habits and choices of our children.

If our kids could choose, as most kids, they would choose to fill their bodies with lots of yummy and unhealthy things. Now don't get me wrong my kids do like fruit, veggies and yes even tofu but they still love cake, ice cream and candy. It is my responsibility as a parent to help them set limits and give them some freedom within those limits. It is my responsibility as a parent to be sure that my child has many healthy options to choose from and some sweets to enjoy. It is my responsibility to set the boundaries and limits and give them choice within those boundaries while they are young and then grant them more freedom as they get older and have the experience and wisdom to make better choices for themselves.

The same is true for our schooling time. I need to set some firm boundaries and guidelines and then grant my children freedom within those boundaries. Children's personalities can vary so much but I need to recognize my own child and her desire for limits and structure.

Rhiannon is a child who thrives well with certain boundaries and expectations clearly outlined. She is also the child who will push right up to the edge of those boundaries to see if they are really hard and fast or not. I have found that she is much happier when she knows that they are real boundaries and when they stand up to her testing. She likes to know her limits and then stay within them once she realizes they are real limits.

Today I lived with the consequence of my choices. I became a frustrated and tired mommy. I fought all day long during what were supposed to be fun lessons. There were tears and angry words from everyone. Feelings were hurt, productivity was down and it all could have been avoided. The worst part for me is knowing that I did what I did out of good intentions and it backfired. So I lived with the consequences of my own choices.

Tommorrow I will try again and hopefully do better.


  1. Thank you for this post. I'm with you on this. It's so hard to remember to be the "boss" sometimes. I wish you a better day today!


  2. Glad to know that everyone else has bad days, too. I always have better days when I'm more prepared. Planning is golden. So is picking up the house and doing the dishes before you go to bed! I fall into letting things slide quite often, and always end up in disaster when I do. Another thing that keeps me on track is daily morning prayer journaling/Bible reading and devotions (right now I'm reading "Created to Be His Helpmeet"... but you could read any devo book to help direct your studies). :) Hope you have many more productive and happy days ahead. Just remember that:

    "Apparent failure may hold in its rough shell the germs of a success that will
    blossom in time, and bear fruit throughout eternity." - Frances Watkins Harper

  3. Mamadala10:21 AM

    Tomorrow is another day - my theme song. We learn so much more than the three R's through homeschooling, don't we?