Many who read my blog have commented to me how happy my children seem, how they can tell it's so from their smiles. Well, of course I put pictures of my children smiling. I'm a proud Mother and I think my children are pretty great...fantastic, in fact. And, yes, they do smile...often.
But blogs are like a magazine cover. They show only a fourth of the story.
The picture above speaks volumes.
I have never claimed to be the perfect mother. That would be totally irresponsible of me and, since some of my children and certain relatives read this blog, they would take me up to task on that declaration.
I have also never claimed to be able to teach math. God forbid! Math drives me bananas. I've always suffered math annoyance and I'm afraid my children think I'm annoyed with them when I'm trying to explain it. I'm not. I'm annoyed with all those little numbers and figures who scatter in numerous directions, won't follow my orderly train of thought, and never do what I want them to do. That's what annoys me.
My children even say I yell!
I don't. I raise my voice, yes...sometimes...but I don't yell. And, anyway, I'm not raising my voice at them. I'm raising it at all those squirrely little numbers. Geesh, why do some people have to take things so personally?
I admire the mothers who are patience-made-over, who speak in gentle tones, whose voices reinforce, recharge, and revere their young students. I wish to God! that He had blessed me with that knack. He didn't. But something happened last night that reinforced, recharge, and revered ME and reminded me that God is always in control of all situations, despite our weakness and things we lack grace in.
Last night, I was trying to explain a math problem to my eleven-year-old daughter, but I didn't want to. I was doing the laundry. Math versus Laundry. Hands-down, laundry wins.
My daughter wasn't getting it and I was annoyed again with myself for lack of explaining-skills. All those rambling numbers scurried around the paper like undisciplined delinquents. It was past nine o'clock at night, thus giving merit to the school's theory of teaching math in the early morning. Nine o'clock! Why in the world were we still doing schoolwork? I wanted to go put my feet up and read a book. I wanted to relax.
I took my load of soft, bleach-tinted towels and gracefully flounced out of the room. At least I'd like to think I flounced out of the room with the grace of Scarlett O'Hara, but I'm pretty sure I wasn't that graceful. And Scarlett had no grace anyway.
Like Scarlett, I wanted to dissolve in a pitiful heap at the bottom of my stairs and cry into the bounty of freshly washed towels. Only, I don't have stairs in my house. Easier still was claiming this heroine's stance, casting my eyes heavenward and proclaiming that "Tomorrow is other day!" Shake the dust off your feet and get on with what you were doing. Folding laundry. Yeah, that works for me.
But my poor child still didn't have a clue how to solve the problem and she was pitiful. I knew if I tried explaining it, I would be accused of "yelling" at her even though I was only "raising my voice" at all those unruly little numbers.
My college advisor warned me over twenty years ago that I had a mental block against math. Twenty-years later I'd say she's right. Give me a book to read aloud, a picnic basket with paints and brushes, a field trip to the crawfish farm, a bunch of girls and a kitchen (I do love the kitchen), a ticket to the museum, or a classroom of thirty high schoolers for Louisiana History. I do just fine. I do the dance beautifully. That's my fancy. That's my style. That's my forte.
Ask me to explain a math problem is equal to putting a fly on vinager paper. It's not pretty. In fact, I stink.
That's why I ordered Teaching Textbooks for my little math students.
True...using computers for school subjects can be frustrating. Computers can freeze, short-circuit, and catch viruses....just like a mother. But they don't yell. That was the plus. Yet our computer was down for a month and a half. The TT would not work on it. It was during this time I realized the student still needed to be given basic paper to do basic math. Paper! there's nothing like it.
So for the past month and a half we've been suffering through workbooks and, now that the computer and TT are back in service, I am hesitant to give-up daily problems on paper. They serve as reinforcement. I fear the computer can become too much like the calculator and leave our minds in the dark ages. Using TT for the lectures, explanations, and the problems as practice is wonderful, excellent; but make sure you're offering them some paperwork as well.
But let's get back to last night. It might be that "birds of a feather flock together" or that Corey, the older brother, remembered the stress and anxiety of Mom trying to explain math. He remembered the flouncing and the lifting of my voice. He remembered the inhaling of my breath when the math book was laid open.
It's not something I want my children to remember but God has a plan. He's in control.
As I returned from my laundry duty, Corey never said a word but went to the table where his bereaved little sister sat, pencil poised in hand. He was gentle and patient while explaining those math problems to her. He gently and patiently explained and worked through every last problem with her until she understood it.
Did I fail?
I could say what a terrible mother I am. What a loser I am. But I won't. Afterall, I'm Scarlett O'Hara.
No, it isn't that I'm a terrible mother. What it is is that God has blessed me with some really great children. And, as you can see, it isn't anything I've done. It was through my weakness that my son stepped up to the plate.
I prefer to look at the moment and evaluate what was learned. It seems my son learned something more than just math. Afterall, math is math. I didn't learn how to make change until I was in my thirties. So much for public school teaching me math. But I eventually did when I had to and I've claimed it.
Corey learned something mightier than math. He learned that some things, like gentleness and patience, have more substance than figures. They get us where we need to go while making the trip a whole lot nicer.
God used my human weakness and sinful nature to teach my son in twenty years what took me forty years to learn:
- to instruct the ignorant
- to counsel the doubtful
- to bear wrong problems patiently
- to comfort the afflicted
Those works of mercy are of infinite worth and immeasureable beauty in the Kingdom of Heaven and both my children will reap the benefits and claim the rewards.
And so will I.