Letting Kids Explore Their Interests

Start children off on the way they should go,
    and even when they are old they will not turn from it. Proverbs 22:6

I held off on posting last Friday because of the significance of today

School started today…Finally!

In some ways, it’s a relief. I have a quiet home which means I can get my work done. But in other ways, it’s not a relief. There will be homework, after all, as well as early mornings. This morning went well, but if things continue the normal way for us, we experienced the calm before the storm today.

Summer was fun but short. I did learn a lot about the grands during that time, though.

When the kids first came to live with us, everyone kept asking me what activities they were doing. The question came with the strong implication that I should enroll them in everything. Keep them moving at all times. At first, I felt guilt over not doing that, but let’s face it, we needed time to adapt.

He says, “Be still, and know that I am God…Psalms 46:10a

Why do people feel the need to fill a child’s day with activity from dawn until dusk? I didn’t see the sense in it.

Eventually, I signed them up for gymnastics. Victoria showed a great interest in it and was already turning perfect cartwheels, so it felt like the right way to go. I signed Amari up, too, because once he saw the gym and the children in a class, he wanted in.

People have pushed me to put them in various activities:  basketball, swimming, football, soccer, etc. With Victoria’s height–she’s now taller than me–everyone pushed hard for basketball and swimming. This summer, I decided we’d try a few of these activities in short spurts. The YMCA offers one-week day camps in the summer focused on a specific sport. I signed Amari up for basketball, football, and soccer and Victoria for basketball, volleyball, and baseball.

Victoria hated it. Amari loved it.

When my kids were little, people didn’t push me to sign them up for anything. I listened to their interests and followed that lead. If I listened to other people, Victoria would be frustrated every day. She hates competitive sports. She enjoyed the games but only when she wasn’t forced to play. She wants to play for fun, not as a team.  Amari enjoyed the camps, but he needs individual attention that he didn’t get in the camps. Plus, I’ve noticed that most team sports use up most of your afternoons and evenings. Amari needs his rest. If he’s not in bed by a certain time, everyone pays for it the next day. We’re going to wait a few years, and see about Amari’s interest in sports, then.

We, also, tried a few educational, but fun, camps at the local science center. Victoria begged to do the Lego camps, so I signed her up for two of them: MazeBots and SumoBots. She hated MazeBots with a passion. She anticipated building things with the Legos. They did, but they spent most of their time programming. She was sooooooo bored.  Amari took Candy Art one week and Kitchen Chemistry the next. He was disappointed that they didn’t cook.  FYI, Victoria wanted to do cooking classes, too. Unfortunately, the cooking classes weren’t offered at a time convenient to our schedules this summer.

We hit the jackpot with the last week of camp. Victoria participated in a Harry Potter camp (I’ll blog about that in my other blog next week), and Amari took an Animal Habitat camp. Both camps incorporated science in a fun way. Both played into the way these two kids’ brains are wired. Ding, ding, ding, we have a winner!

So, now I know. Victoria is not into sports except gymnastics for fun. Amari loves sports but needs time to focus. They both love nature and science and working with their hands.

In the Proverbs verse at the beginning of this post, we’re directed to bring children up in the way they should go. You can’t look at a child and base that decision on their physical appearance. You need to pay attention to what they enjoy, to the things that drive their curiosity, the things they talk about. Now, I have a good idea what that is

And I didn’t spend an entire school year struggling through something they hated to find this out.

I’d call that a win-win!

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Summer: A Time for Relaxation? Nope!

Image courtesy of Pixabay.com

A person plans his way, but the LORD directs his steps. Proverbs 16:9 

Summer days are coming to an end. The temps are still in the 90s, but school starts in a little over a week. This summer taught me a lot about my grandkids. It, also, taught me that I still haven’t found the right balance between my work schedule and summer fun. Somehow, without homework to stress us out in the evenings, I’ve managed to stay as stressed, if not more stressed, over our summer schedules.

Since I’m self-employed, I work flexible hours. Figuring out when those hours might occur can be a challenge. I need to work during the summer, which means I need the kids to participate in a day camp in order to give me the time I need. Summer day camps are expensive, and you need to enroll the kids long before summer arrives. Many programs fill up before March, so you have to be quick about it.

In other words, I had to guess when I might have work.

Of course, some events were already on my schedule, but others came up later. I turned a few things down because I didn’t have childcare arranged on those days. You might wonder why I didn’t enroll the grands for something every single week. Summer tends to be a slow season in the training industry. I needed to make sure I brought in more money than I spent in childcare. It’s not an exact science. I did the best I could. Some weeks went beautifully, but others? Wow! Worn out doesn’t begin to describe it.

But here we are with one more week before the schedules go back to normal. In a way I’m relieved. In other ways, I’m sad. I would love to have a few more weeks to kick back and relax.

But who am I kidding? If we had a few more weeks, they’d probably be slammed with me trying to manage a work schedule around some weekly camp activity!

I guess it’s a good thing I don’t get to choose when school starts and ends.  For now, I’ll enjoy the next week:  no school, no work, no camps. Of course, we’re not done with the school clothes and supply shopping, yet.

Oh well.

Visit Those In Prison

Image courtesy of africa at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

A few weeks ago, I learned that my grandchildren’s mother got arrested…again. In April, she bonded out after sitting there for nine months. She made a bunch of promises to the kids in March that I fussed at her about. She was in no position to make promises, and, as I knew would happen, she didn’t fulfill any of them when she got out in April. In fact, she never contacted us. She disappeared. She still hasn’t gone to trial on those charges, and now she has more.

I told her this time she wasn’t going to talk to her children: no phone calls, email, visits, or letters. I told her if she called and I was working or the kids were with me or I was in public, I would not take her call. It hasn’t stopped her from trying, and every single time she’s called I was either with the kids, working, or in public.

She’s decided I hate her.

What do you do?

To be honest, I don’t know. I’m not in any hurry to talk to her. I don’t hate her. You can’t hate the child you raised and nurtured through childhood and the teen years. They are a part of you.

The other day, she undermined my decision about contact and sent the kids a letter. On this day, Victoria got the mail out of the mailbox. Neither of the grands love doing that–there’s a tiny spider who hangs out there–but for some reason,  she did it that day. I intercepted the parts they didn’t need to read but fought hard to hide my anger over this action.

More and more, my daughter has become a person I do not like. Like is not the same as love. And not liking someone doesn’t necessarily mean you don’t love them. I can love her and dislike her actions. It’s complicated, but what relationship isn’t?

In church, we’ve been talking about walking the second mile as a good neighbor to those who are in need. This past Sunday, Matt, our minister, talked about who our neighbor is and specifically mentioned those in prison.

I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me. Matthew 25:36

I can’t do it. I don’t have the energy. Not anymore. I’m not the one who needs to visit her. She needs encouragement. I’ve done it many times over, and I’m tired.

Why am I telling you this?

Because wherever you are, there is someone in prison whose family has hit that point. The person is prison still needs encouragement, and a family member is the worst possible person to do it.  If the prisoner has not admitted to their mistakes in full, they will wear that family member down to a husk with promises and pleas and manipulation. I’ve seen it first hand. While visiting her, I’ve watched family members cry, yell, storm out, cajole, and provide the wrong things to their loved one. Someone who is not a close family member can say things to them in a different way. Can keep the emotions out of it.  Can let them know that God hasn’t turned His back on them.

So, please consider it. You can’t just walk into a prison and visit someone. There are rules. But please, if this speaks to you, check it out. Prison inmates are captive audiences, literally. They are open to contact from Christians more so than the general public.

It takes a special person to do this, but I’m certain some of you reading this are that kind of person.