Archive for July, 2010

Lessons from “Jack and the Beanstalk”

The other day as I was snapping my daughter into her car seat, I noticed a strange bulge.

In her pants.

“‘Don’t look!” she wailed, covering the bulge.

I ignored her and pulled out…a golf ball.

Weird, yes. Out of the ordinary? Quite.

“Where did you get this?” I asked.

“From [name of playmate].”

“Does she know you have it?”

A guilty look, “No.”

“Emily! When you take something that doesn’t belong to you, without someone giving you permission, that is stealing! And stealing is bad.” She promptly burst into tears.

A few minutes later, we had returned the ball and apologized for taking something that was not ours. But the discussion was not over, and as we drove home, Emily and I talked about how it must feel to have something taken from you, how it hurts people’s feelings, and on and on.

How ironic is it that she should choose “Jack and the Beanstalk” for her bedtime story that night.

For those who have not read this little gem recently, I will recap it for you:

Jack and his mother are dirt poor and they sell their cow. In return they get magic beans which Jack’s mother throws out the window. The next morning Jack finds a beanstalk. He climbs it, goes into the giant’s castle [a classic case of breaking and entering], steals the giant’s gold coins [felony] and runs away. After Jack and his mother blow through the gold he returns and steals the golden goose [misdemeanor?]. After a while, he returns and steals a golden harp [felony] and the giant, having already been stolen from and trespassed upon twice, gives chase. Jack shimmies down the beanstalk and the giant tries to follow, instead of catching Jack, he falls to his death [involuntary manslaughter].

For all of this mischief, Jack and his mother [his accomplice and/or mentor] live happily ever after – having stolen repeatedly from and then having killed the giant.

So what if the giant eats Englishmen or likes the smell of their blood? He sure as heck never got a chance to eat Jack who is, after all, a classic repeat offender and overall malcontent.

I mistakenly thought that these old fairy tales were supposed to encourage children to be better behaved, not turn to larceny. Silly me!

Needless to say, I’ll be avoiding “Jack and the Beanstalk” for a little while. I don’t think it is giving my impressionable young daughter any more reason to turn towards a life of crime.


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Homeschooling – Yes, It Really Is “That Simple”

I just wrote a line that I’m especially pleased with…

Homeschooling is something that occurs naturally in all healthy and loving homes – it is a child’s natural learning state, conducted by a person who understands them better than any hired teacher ever could.

I was writing it to a friend and the words just flowed out, but I recognize the essential truth of it. This past Monday I attended a homeschooling meeting with L.E.A.R.N. (Let Education Always Remain Natural), which is a secular homeschooling group in Kansas City. My daughter will be four years old in October and while it is early still to begin ‘official’ schooling, I think it is the perfect time to begin making connections and finding other homeschooling moms with children her age range.

I homeschooled my older daughter, now 21, through her high school years out of necessity. I wasn’t happy with the school district we were in and she was so unhappy in school. After I pulled her out I gave her a few weeks to decompress and asked her what she wanted to learn. She would go on to study Women’s History, American Politics, and College-level Algebra, among other things. Sometimes she would spend an entire week on history, other times writing essays on what she had learned. No day was the same, no week planned to the nth degree.

And then along came her baby sister and her dad and I decided we would try homeschooling from the start. And so I have been planning on this for years.I went on to write:

The thing about homeschooling to keep in mind is this: You are already homeschooling. You’ve been homeschooling since the day she was born. Every time you count with her, involve her in cooking, cleaning, exercise, pet care, reading, or nature – you are homeschooling…Whenever you answer her questions, teach her something, ask her a math question…that’s homeschooling.

There are dozens of websites, scores of books, and plenty of people who can tell you more about homeschooling. No, it isn’t for everyone, but it is a real and wonderful option and opportunity that could make the difference for your child and instill a love of learning that is lifelong.

Something to think about…

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“You Get What You Get” – Lessons from “Pinkalicious” and other books

A friend of mine gave my daughter a couple of cute books – “Pinkalicious” and “Purplicious” And a line from “Pinkalicious” keeps recurring around our house.

Pinkalicious’ mom tells her, “You get what you get and you don’t throw a fit.”

What is it about some lines in books that kids grab a hold of and never forget? In any case, Emily has done just this. It certainly has come in handy for me in a pinch.

“Mama, I want [fill in the blank] to eat.”

“You can have a slice of apple, but I’m serving dinner soon.”

“BUT…” The whine begins.

“You get what you get.” I remind her gently.

“And you don’t throw a fit.” She responds.


And that’s it. That’s all it takes. Oh, thank you “Pinkalicious!”

Another favorite phrase around our house is “Green Eggs and Ham!” This usually comes up with new food or food we haven’t fixed in a while.

Emily looks over the food cooking on the stove, “I don’t want that!”

“Green eggs and ham,” I say to her, “Try it, try it and, you might like it!”

A small suffering sigh in reply, “Ohhkay.”

Sometimes she likes it, other times not, but at least she tried the food.

I look forward to the day she uses these phrases on me…

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