Young Love?

datingMy 16 year old is dating!  Well as of yesterday it is now up in the air as to whether they are still dating or not (I will explain later).   Not sure how I feel about him dating.  I actually told him that I will decide as we go along what is okay or not okay with me as I actually do not have a prearranged plan.

Before I go ahead let me clarify my definition of dating.  He is not going out with different girls or anything like that.  There is one girl right now that he has taken a deep ‘fancy’ to and so they have decided to explore where there friendship will lead.  That is my definition of dating for now and for that age.

I keep reminding him that the pressure is on him to not mess up.  His future prospects of dating with my permission while under age and also that of his younger siblings is all dependent on how this goes.   Anyhow for now I am still undecided.  I am actually keeping a mental note of why dating too early is not good.  I haven’t started the other list yet because right now I am not interested in how it is good.

But I allow him to date this one girl because of who she is and what her values are.  See I know that whether I agree or not teens will date if they want.  It can be with my knowledge or behind my back.  So this one girl is doing well in school, she is not the partying type, they have known each other for 2 years and her parents are of the same faith and share the same expectations as I do.  In fact she is not allowed to date.  My son also is the kind of boy I honestly would want my daughter to date, in fact I told her that.  Lol, she was not impressed.  She is another story.

I really like this girl because she actually told her mother that she is dating my son.  And I guess her mother is torn as me because after about a month her mother has decided she is not okay with it and that it must come to an end.  They are allowed to be friends but that is it.  And can you believe they are actually deliberating what to do!  Unlike my daughter who simply says why don’t they say they are not and just continue (that’s one more strike against her).  The girl is uncomfortable with lying to her mother and so being friends may be the only choice.

What really got me as well is that she told my son she is praying to God to ask what she should do.  That’s it I think I love her!  And so I will pray as well.  Really I have been praying all along and I never got the urge to make them end it.  Instead I focus on trying to make my son see the significance and consequence of a relationship on his life and hers.

But my only suggestion to them is to be ‘special friends’ who only see each other in the company of others.  That might get her mother to retract the permanent grounding!

Posted with the approval of my son.

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You shall teach them diligently to your children.

My ex husband was and probably still is really good at teaching my children manners.  I am good at reminding them of their please and thank yous, but he is much better than me. How?  He taught them from a young age to hold doors for others or to shake hands with people at all times and thank them for whatever it is they had done.  So after my children finished their soccer or baseball practice they would have to go over and shake the coach’s hand and say thank you.  This to me used to be quite impressive but strange.

No matter how great and necessary it is to be well mannered there is something that God has consistently reminded me is of much more importance.

Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one! 

You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart,

with all your soul, and with all your strength.  

“And these words which I command you today shall be in your heart.  

You shall teach them diligently to your children,

and shall talk of them when you sit in your house,

when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up. 

Until my children are taught and understand how deeply God loves them and that He requires us to reciprocate this love back to Him, we haven’t really taught them anything.

So the challenge for me has been to consistently find ways to teach them.  Any one who deals with young people knows that it is not always easy to capture their attention.  And anyone who has tried to teach a young person about God knows that in our society with everything working against the knowledge of God in their lives it can be very challenging.

But to encourage any other person who understands and is going through what I am going through I would say, just don’t give up.  As much as it seems as they are not receiving or applying they are, or they will at least.  So keep going!!!  The thing to recognize is that we are challenging so many norms that they see and experience around them so do it with love and understanding, but also do it with confidence.  Understanding does not mean acceptance however, but it just allows you to be compassionate about their reality.

But the Word constantly reminds me of our duty as parents to teach our children, diligently, so it does not depart from them.  And so, I try to find different ways to do so and also at different times.  It may be informal and in the car or while watching something on tv or it may be more formal in our living room.  But to raise children who are conscious of God in their lives we truly have to not only keep Him in our lives as parents but also consistently teach and also display what that looks like to them.

 

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Yes, I still drive them to and from school!

Some people criticize my willingness to drive my children to and from school.  (Fyi.  I have two children in high school and two younger ones that are now home schooled).  The argument is they should learn to be independent, responsible, hard working etc.  I agree completely that there are benefits to a child making their way home on their own at the appropriate age.  Yet even though I know there are benefits I still choose to pick my children up more times than not.

I too question my need to be their chauffeur.   I must say that I didn’t always do this but this has been a new development since my separation from their father.  Hmm, that’s probably food for thought right there.  Well actually I should add I would have always picked them up and drop them off but I was advised against it by ex before, but since the cat is away…..

When I think it over, I know I have had a privilege that parents who aren’t able to drive their children may not know.  I know my children’s friends.  (It is true the saying show me your friends and I will show you who you are, or at least its who you desire to be) I know where these friends live.  I know how they dress, I know how they behave (especially when there are no teachers or parent watching).  Even as they grow I see the difference in their character and behavior over time.  Yes other parents may have this opportunity too but my theory is the more we understand our children and their choices in friends the better.

My daughter can not easily trick me into what she wants me to believe about her friends.  Nope, because I have already evaluated them, and not only them, but also their parents as well.  I know that sounds weird but I am sure other parents have done the same to me as well.

Yes one may argue a child needs to choose their friends and make their own choices and again I agree, but within limits of course.  Don’t get me wrong I do not choose my children’s friends.  Well not entirely, I have tried to get them to change one or two here and there and usually to no avail, they seem to have to make that decision on their own, unfortunately.

But the benefit I have experienced in picking them up is that it allows me to be more aware of their world at school.  I see the trends in clothing, hair styles etc.  I have not chosen my children’s friends but I have been able to give advise based off what I have observed.  The key to giving advise is to be cautious remembering that this is your child’s friend.  So I may point out  to my daughter that her friend’s outfits may be much too revealing for my liking.  In doing this it reinforces to my daughter my stance on fashion but also allows her the opportunity to evaluate for herself.  Mind you, in critiquing the outfit I am not quick to put a judgement on the child only on their choice in clothing.

I must say though that when they walk home they do develop endurance especially when trekking through our Canadian weather.  And I notice that it also helps me to see where they are at developmentally as well.  For example, before my children would have to pass the park to get home.  How long they would linger at the park showed me how responsible, and disciplined they were or weren’t.

 

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Why would you want to homeschool anyway?

About 20, 000 children are homeschooled in Ontario.   Funny I haven’t ran into any of them yet, well except one boy which already knew before.  Of course this is just a drop in the bucket of almost 2 million children in the public school system.

The question I have been faced with by myself and others is, ‘why would I want to homeschool anyway?’  Why would I want to take my children away from their peers, from the structure of school and why on earth would I take on such a huge undertaking? Unfortunately not everyone has been supportive of my decision and maybe some of them for valid reasons.

Since I don’t have time to take on all these now (I have two boys to teach!) I will answer just one.  Why would I want to take on such an undertaking when we already have provisions in society for our children’s education?  I admit the time commitment is huge!

Before deciding I had to seriously contemplate all the limitations that having the boys all day would put on me.   What would I do if I have a meeting or seminar I had to attend?  As I considered  this what came back to my memory was when I worked my Mon – Fri- 9-5 job and managed my weekend business while I was pregnant with my fourth child!  I began to remember how I figured a way out of every complication I faced back then.  I got the children ready for school, took them to the babysitter, did laundry and started dinner in the morning, sometimes leaving dinner in slow cooker.  I would clean the kitchen back up at night while helping with homework at the same time.   I even got my wholesalers for to come to my home to sell me what I needed for my business on the weekend.  I was efficient.  Why?  Because I believed wholly in what I was doing and that this was the only way to accomplish all that I had determined to.

So why not with this?  I believe completely that I have something to offer my boys that the schools don’t ( yes I recognize that the opposite is also true).  I believe completely that school also has some things to offer my boys that I do not desire for them to know or experience just yet.   Whether these are taught inside or outside the classroom.

Are my boys not worth the same commitment I have placed to working, or how I committed to my business in the past?  My job had me for the hours that they dictated on the days that they dictated.   Whenever I felt like I didn’t want to go in to work I had better be sick.  My business was even worse.  I had to give up every weekend for about 10 years to keep it profitable.  In that time I had missed many family events, bbqs, parties and basically just time with my family.

So with all that in mind the commitment that homeschooling required was suddenly worth it.  The time is worth it and the cause is worth it.  So no, I am no longer scared of the commitment in fact I embrace it just as you embrace your job and businesses, and while my pay day may take a lot longer to get to I too anticipate a return on my time and effort.

Well time to get back to school!

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Home to School

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So I have taken on the adventure or challenge maybe, of homeschooling!

It has been one week since my 8 and 11 year old boys have been staying home for their education.  I decided to take the plunge after just about two weeks of deliberations.  Yes, that is a pretty quick move  for such a huge commitment.  Well actually two weeks is not accurate as I have always considered homeschooling just never seriously.  I always envied those who do.  Also, I have taught my children so much at home just not consistently as what school requires.

So why homeschool?  Why not!  No my children weren’t doing bad, they weren’t being bullied, they loved their teachers.  The only complaint they actually had is that they didn’t like the recess rules at their new school.  Basically there were way too many rules.  I would have to agree with that.  But the more I thought about whether to homeschool or not the more the answer became obvious.  The more objections people gave the more they enforced my decision to go ahead.

No, I don’t have it all figured out yet as unlike teachers I do not have a well planned curriculum and you know what, that is very liberating.  I have noticed for a while that my youngest have a really good memory and actually loves to learn as long as you are willing to teach him.  Unfortunately though he hasn’t discovered the joy of reading yet but as long as I am willing to read he will listen and remember.  He off handedly tells us random facts that he learns all the time and realized that with a brain like that I want to have a say with what goes in.

So far we have read about Germany as their dad’s background is German.  We have watched a video about the Berlin Wall. We have read about Rosa Parks because  shoot it’s Rosa Parks!  We have watched videos on 911.  We have learnt about the evil Herod the Great because well he shows up in Matthew 2.  Get the picture? Oh fyi, we will still be learning from the Ontario Curriculum.

My 11 year is actually really good at baseball and that is his only real interest or hobby oh plus basketball and soccer.  So with us developing our own schedule I will be sure to get those in.

My only real concern with homeschooling is that my boys are really good at math and I can teach them past their grade levels to as much their brains or my ability allows but how will I get them the opportunity to use their gift for numbers.  Well God knows and time will tell.

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I WILL PACK THE SHOEBOX BUT I WILL NOT BE SATISFIED!

I saw a 1 minute clip on the importance of shoebox in children’s lives in the poorest parts of the world about a week ago.  Little children who go to school without enough to eat and   work in garbage piles looking for things to sell in order to help feed their families.  These children wait in anticipation for our shoeboxes once a year.

We are encouraged in the video to send school supplies because so often they do not have these things and education is the only hope of these children changing their future for themselves and their future children.

In the video they show the children working in the filthy garbage looking for something of value.  Then we see them at school learning and then receiving their shoe boxes.  The little boy they chose to follow did not open the box at school but chose to go back to his home.  He settled himself on a rock  and then he opens the box.  I couldn’t help noticing  all thes garbage on the screen behind him. I notice too that he is wearing flip flops in all that mess.  He took out some school supplies and smiled very brightly at the camera and said thank you

The whole thing made me sick. I am actually nauseous now just typing this.    I grew up in Jamaica and never knew the thrills of getting a gift on my birthday or Christmas for most my childhood.  Actually when I came to Canada and saw how cheaply someone could have made my day was saddened.  There are toys and balls and colouring books at the dollar store!!! Meanwhile us in Jamaica make balls from juice and milk cartons stuffed with paper and play with paper dolls.  That said yes I will pack a shoebox or two because this is the only solution that is offered to me at this time but my goodness when will we wake up. No I will not believe I changed the world by doing this very miniscule thing.  I just brightened the day for a little child.

Meanwhile over the next month the average person will go out this Christmas in Canada and spend close to $1000 on gifts.  And some of it on credit too because not only we cannot afford to really save the world we cannot afford the gifts we go out of our way to buy.   I am not even sure why as there is no scripture that says buy gifts in honour of my birth. ????????????

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Thank God for Moms’ Prayers

I am one of those people who grew up in church.  Well not really grew up there I only went on Sundays. But I would say I grew up in church because even though it was just on Sundays I have gone all throughout my childhood.  I actually remember doing crafts in the baby and toddler room at children’s church.

Fellowshipping with God’s people every Sunday was not something I looked forward to, in fact  I tried everything to not have to go, I cried, pretended I was sick or pretended I was too tired.  None of it worked, not even the time that I was actually really sick.  I guess I was the girl that called wolf so I wasn’t believed when the wolf really showed up.  So off I went only to be escorted back home by a Sunday School teacher after throwing up in her class.

I eventually became born again at 12 years old.   I know there was a real change because I wanted to go for the first time in my life.  I actually asked to go more even at nights by myself.  I might add that this was downtown Kingston, Jamaica not every one would dare going on the bus at nights never mind at 12.

Walking with God was very good at first but rocky also.   I had a deep desire to live for Him and serve Him.  God was faithful and He kept me from many dangers that most young girls fall into in the Caribbean.  Then I moved to Canada.  Canada showed me a whole new world where God wasn’t so real or necessary as before.   I soon stopped attending church on Sundays because my job required me to be available.  Sure enough after a while I strayed from God, but I’m grateful I didn’t get too far because He still had my heart.

I eventually got married at almost 20 years old and had my first child at 22 after completing only 2 years at university.   At that time looking back I knew what God had done for me.  If I hadn’t gotten to know Him I could easily been pregnant by 16, not even out of promiscuity but plain naivety.   I also remembered the peace and joy that my relationship with God brought.   I wanted my baby to have the God that was keeping me all those years so as soon as I knew I was pregnant I put my foot down with my job.  I started to go back to church on Sundays and even on Wednesdays and Fridays too.

Then the unexpected happened.  After only 3 years married and while pregnant with my second child my husband and I were on the verge of a break up.  My whole world fell apart.   I didn’t know what would become of me.   No where in my plans did I have not finishing school and being the single mother of two children.  I had no clue what to do and so I reached out to God.   But you know what I couldn’t hear Him, I couldn’t find Him.  I then reached out to my then pastor and that was a waste of time.  I was confused.  I had done so many things right.  I had given up so much and suffered even because I had chosen the Godly path for my life and then when I needed help I had none.

I was mad to say the least,  and you know what I threw in the towel.  I was mad at God and the church.  So I stopped attending and I stopped praying.  I lived life from there on then however I chose, no longer was God or His word a thought before making a choice.  God was no longer real to me.  No I wasn’t atheist I just didn’t care what He thought anymore.  My husband and I stayed together but in my opinion not due to God but to us, since I had to fix it myself I realized that I had to keep it together myself also.

I completely changed.  There was nothing that was really off limits.  If it was not hurting anyone else then sure why not.  I couldn’t hurt myself anymore anyways.  The only thing that made me think twice was the potential of hurting my mom.  The things I was doing didn’t bother me one bit but I knew they would bother her and so that knowledge kept me a bit in line.  I was unwilling to hurt and embarrass her publicly, privately wasn’t an issue.

Till finally another 10 years later my marriage was in jeapordy again.  And it’s so interesting that the very circumstance that caused me to walk away from God it’s in the very same circumstance He became real to me again.  In fact more real than ever before.  I know that in all my years away from God that my mom continually prayed and believed and beseeched for me to return to Him.  And so with that I want to say thank you mom.  Also with that knowledge I want to encourage myself that no matter what my children may go through God is still faithful.  And though my marriage did come to an end the second time around and yes the loss may have hurt but in that ordeal I gained Christ.

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