Beautiful and wise words:
vol 6 pg 80
Chapter 5 The Sacredness of Personality
Our crying need to-day is less for a better method of education than for an adequate conception of children,––children, merely as human beings, whether brilliant or dull, precocious or backward.
vol 6 pg 81
Maxima reverentia debetur pueris has a wider meaning than it generally receives. We take it as meaning that we should not do or say anything unseemly before the young, but does it not also include a profound and reverent study of the properties and possibilities present in a child?
vol 6 pg 89
But knowledge is delectable. We have all the ‘satiable curtiosity’ of Mr. Kipling’s Elephanteven when we content ourselves with the broken meats flung by the daily press. Knowledge is to us as our mother’s milk, we grow thereby and in the act of sucking are admirably content.
The work of education is greatly simplified when we realize that children, apparently all children, want to know all human knowledge; they have an appetite for what is put before them…
I used to choose words to describe my daughters, specially my oldest, that were not mindful of her as a person. I did not respect her. What could be wrong about saying… she is not doing this, she does not like that, she has this weakness, that deficiency? I did this but now, when I read other moms doing the same, it saddens me much, I don’t know why. Some do never show pictures of their children, or cover their faces on the photos, out of privacy and respect, which I can understand clearly. But then I do not have any decency whatsoever when continually portraying my children in words that, if my spouse used them to describe me, would cause strife to our marriage, elicit feelings of having been betrayed, and would leave me grieving.
I wanted my oldest in particular, to be this and that, I expected her to do certain things, to act like other children could and did academically speaking. I talked about her as less than a person, as my inferior to my charge, not my equal indebted to my care by Him. I engaged in describing her behavior by looking at what appeared to me as her shortcomings, and thus devising strategies to change, mold, channel, persuade, and what not, in order to get the girl I think she ought to be. Until it hit me hard. My oldest daughter is a person, I am not superior as a person. I just have a different role as a grown up woman and her mother, a role not to be abused. (To know more about this role, read Charlotte Mason on authority, that was also the past Carnival topic of discussion).
Why is she not showing interest? Why is she, (who on the other hand is such a pleaser) not engaged from within? Sometimes she could make herself do something not to make me mad, to please me… but I finally figured too that we could not sustain her whole learning on this basis… the pleasing behavior turned rebellious or indifferent, my guts told me it was not right for her to agree to narrate something so that I did not become vexed. And once again, the old cycle. The strategies that never work but that I endlessly described to others who obviously, needed them not, in an pirouette aimed to convince myself of their validity.
It did not take me that much to realize that prizes and punishments do not work. Consequences… yes, but not so much artificially designed by us, parents, because there are few natural consequences that I have found I can apply, most were being truly arbitrary. That regime of not having such activity in their day, or not doing such if they do not do such and such, never worked with us either. Then I remembered, and truly worked at deciphering, what Charlotte Mason tells us in the last paragraph I quoted above, knowledge is delectable. If my daughter is not engaged in learning, and not liking what she is doing, then it must not be true knowledge what I am offering. I changed. My attitude changed. What we did in our day changed, my expectations, too, changed. I abandoned the checklist. We went back to our first love, the time when she was little and not in second grade with a full week list of books to listen to, narrate, math lessons to finish, handwriting to practice… We returned to our journal drawing, our walks and time outdoors, our reading poetry and delight into it. I stopped comparing, keeping count, I started to listen and learn who they are, who she (the oldest) is. I simply started to practice what I have always preached after C.M.
And, voila! It all started to fall into place. My attitude each morning changed. I no longer started the day accusing her of being this or that, or saying things like you never, or you always. I still suggested her, “let’s read from our history book”, or “let’s work on some math”. But I no longer felt the superior, the master of the show, devising what had to be accomplished every day, finishing my sentences with the classic innuendo, for your good… I became the companion instead. The one learning by their side, and learning for my sake, not in the hopes she will replicate all I engaged in (which I used to do with a feeling of obligation before). Nowadays, I am the mom who is teaching herself Italian, Hebrew with her daughters and best friend, learning piano at 42 years old. It is fine if they do not sit at the piano for hours, or with an Italian book or CD. But I am also the mom who knows duty, and asks for some piano practice every day, out of habit, consistency, and because learning piano (at whatever level we are made to achieve), is such a wonderful opportunity to connect with beauty, to appreciate music when you hear it.
My daughter happens to be a girl who delights me so much each and every day, that I wish and pray to have a long life to simply indulge in witnessing her. She makes me think of Sting singing Every breath you take, every move you make... A girl who cares much about others, and who treasures learning. She has much to teach me about relations. She is showing me gratitude and I am in awe contemplating the beauty of persons through her and others around me. That He created us unto His image, is most manifest in children, as Charlotte Mason implies. It has been such a mystery that I never appreciated, so close to my nose it was. Children are persons. And persons are born with this wonderful yearning for knowledge. It has become my own personal crusade to inspire other parents to see this in their children, instead of thinking in terms of problems and solutions in their homeschools, or considering children as end results. They are poetry in progress, men and women of character in potency, and if we do not recognize them already as such, but talk about them pejoratively, they will grow up broken and with a low self esteem, and they will have a harder time finding that person they once were and we buried.
And today that is where we are. With our feet planted on joy, and our hearts and minds in awe.