It’s “Raising Mannerly Children,” Not, “Ignoring Aggravating Miniature Terrorists”

Note:   This picture was taken Mother’s Day, 2015, but I am pairing it with an article written in 2010, as I consider it worth repeating.

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The Importance of RAISING MANNERLY CHILDREN cannot be overemphasized. Manners are, in essence, simply the thoughtful consideration of the needs and wants of others.

The Golden Rule is so named because if you learn it, all else of value follows.

And if you don’t . . .

A life of misery–for you, your child, your child’s spouse and children and coworkers, neighbors–is what’s in store if you don’t teach your children manners.

Or, let’s look at it another way: Teach your children to think of others and they will naturally have manners.

This is an ongoing task (see the article’s end for how to begin with ease and quick results), but the rewards are commensurate with the effort.

Seth, (a 10-year-old), has an excess of energy, and sometimes tears through the house like a dervish. Recently he raced past the girls and me, who were having a pleasant conversation, yelling and brushing against us.

It was time for conscious parenting. Time to heed that little voice in my head that said, “Stop what you’re doing, stop having a nice chat with your girls, and deal with this.” So I stopped.

IT’S MY JOB.

Not fun, but necessary. I will not be the mother of a hellion, who thinks the conversations and happiness of others beneath his time and consideration.

Yes, we all know someone like this. An adult. Not a pretty picture.

Remember: If you don’t care enough to teach your child to be kind and considerate, who will?

But how?  Where to begin?  An excellent place to start is with Munro Leaf’s books, those loved and still remembered by my kids–Manners Can Be Fun, How to Behave and Why, and How to Speak Politely and Why.

Fun, funny, great illustrations, and effective:  Munro Leaf.

Done! by Don Aslett

 

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Done! by Don Aslett is excellent.  Usually, with non-fiction I scan the table of contents for something worthwhile, take much of even the choicest subjects, then scan and glean.  Gleaning is the art of checking the author’s views against real wisdom (God’s opinion) and against personal experience, and seeing if there is anything worthwhile leftover.

In Done! I have found a treasure, start to finish–no need for gleaning.  Rather, there is a need to buy the book (giving my current overdue copy back to the library), read it again, and make it required reading for my kids, beginning with Chapter 8–The Magic of Early.

Don Aslett turns a lot of conventional “wisdom” on its head in this book, speaking from a wealth of experience and success in all areas of his life.  Done! is fun, entertaining, easy to read, and inspiring.  What more could you ask?

Beautiful Outlaw – A Book for all Reasons

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One of the many beauties of home education is the time to read, and to share great books.  When I bought John Eldredge’s Beautiful Outlaw for my son Benjamin, I wasn’t worried about his not reading it.  Even if he didn’t read it, someone at our house would.  This I knew from experience.

Not only did Benjamin read the book, and quote from it often, he urged me to read it.  I don’t think I’m unique in liking to pick my own books, and being somewhat resistant when people insist I read something.  But since Benjamin is not the insistent sort, and because I know John Eldredge can be trusted, I picked up the book.

I would breeze through it, job done.  Wrong.  I savored this book–reading a bit and smiling and stopping to consider.  As I neared the book’s end, I slowed down.  I didn’t want this journey with John Eldredge and Jesus to end.

What a privilege to, if you will, have a conversation with a free thinker.  A radically Christian radical.

When a book speaks to an 18-year-old young man as well as to his mother, there’s something going on.  When I love a book, yet can’t quite bring myself to part with it, there’s something going on.  And when a book changes and clarifies my thinking in a way that electrifies my joy in Christ, well, I just have to rave.

How About a REAL Romance!

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They’re the books my junior high principal used to entice non-reading boys, and they worked like nothing else.  They’re the books beginning with cliffhanger action, getting more exciting with each page, and ending satisfactorily every time (the boy and the girl have an understanding).  They’re Jubal Sackett, Sitka, Last of the Breed, and SackettThat’s right, they’re Louis L’Amour westerns (well, a few of his books, including Last of the Breed, aren’t westerns, but they’re still great books).

By “great” I mean, for starters, they have heroes worth remembering.  I remember, for instance, the Sacketts.  There are certain arroyos, canyons, and long vistas that take me back to a reading moment, and I say, “Look, I think Tell Sackett’s down there in that gulch.”  And there’s no doubt he’s about to do the right thing.  Not the easy thing, but the right thing.

So, no, these books aren’t Putlizer winners, they don’t have endorsements on the back telling us how “poignant” they are.  We won’t impress our “intellectual” acquaintances by stacking them about our living room.  And if we do try stacking them, they won’t remain stacked as do all the “right” books and the “must-reads”.  Rather, they will be read!

Every freeschooled bookwyrm has turn-on books.  Hannah, for instance, began her love affair with books by reading The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe and The Secret GardenHer only Louis L’Amour book was The Last of the Breed.  Our other three bookwyrms have read, as have their parents, every Louis L’Amour (as far as we know) more than once.  Of course, bookwyms read almost all genres–anything and everything worthwhile, and some books not so worthwhile.

“Not so worthwhile” includes many recommended books, best sellers, and “must-reads” which are missing at least one of those main ingredients–worthy characters, an interesting plot, and a satisfactory ending.

Let’s stop worrying about what other people say we “should” read and let’s please ourselves with books that deliver.  Like say, a real romance.  Say, maybe, a Louis L’Amour.

Tea Cozy?

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You may think a tea cozy is a quilted teapot cover, and if so, may I recommend the knitted pineapple cozy found in Jane Brocket’s inimitable The Gentle Art of DomesticityBut I’d like to introduce the idea that a tea cozy is also a gathering of bliss wherein tea plays a part.
My first tea party was at friend’s house, and it was given in honor of our dolls, with a tiny painted metal tea set.  The dolls had tea (water) and raisins, and were quite happy with their fare.  After all, they got to sit at a little red wooden table in matching chairs, and be served. To this day, that is one of my all-time favorite teas cozies.
Such cozies may occur on quilts in the backyard with toddlers, peanut butter and crackers, a great book(s), and of course, tea.  Tea may be nice and hot in a thermos if fall is hinting at winter, or it may be iced to be enjoyed with berries picked alongside the road as you hike to a clearing under a nice big oak tree.

Other lovely tea cozy ideas include but are not limited to::  making breakfast special with tea, history teas, tea parties on a budget, literary teas, dress-up teas, teas on the balcony amid falling snow, slumber party teas, If-I-Could-Travel-Anywhere teas, Christmas teas, and tea parties for no particular reason (I think of these as conversation teas).

The only rule for a tea party is:  Conversation must be kind and intelligent.  Tea is a most excellent place to teach etiquette, and in fact when the kids were small I often brought a favorite etiquette book to our gatherings, Manners Matter by Hermine Hartley.

Now if you don’t have etiquette books, tea sets, knitted tea cozies, and a variety of gourmet teas, don’t be discouraged.  Have a coffee cozy (I use swiss water decaf mostly when having coffee with kids), or serve milk and cookies and call it a milk.  A milk?  Maybe a milk cozy.  If it’s cool outside, heat the milk and add honey and maybe some cinnamon and nutmeg.

There are endless possibilities, but the bottom line is simply this:  always be on the lookout for a tea cozy opportunity.  Bliss!

School by the Creek

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One day, a few years back, Seth and Rebekah asked to go to the creek and “do school later”.  I said they could go, paper and pencil in hand, and to bring back something they’d written–a story, a thought, a drawing, poetry.

Here is Seth’s offering:

I have a cathedral of willows over my head

The sound of the creek in my ears,

A hoodie under my back.

I will try not to fall in the creek.

Ack!

All this comfort, all this wonder,

I’ve claimed a little nook.

Yet all the while I wish I’d brought a book.

Rebekah wrote me a love letter, and some of her thoughts, as well as this “Spring Poem”:

The creek laughs happily over stones

I hear birdsong and breezes.

But something else is talking –

Tis neither wind nor birdsong nor the creek.

Tis Spring.