I hope you’ve been enjoying my whimsical rendition of the 12 Days of Christmas with “The 12 Days of Homeschool.” If nothing else, I hope my little stories and tips make you feel like you’re not alone in this difficult journey. Homeschooling IS hard work! And half the time it is the small annoyances that frustrate us the most. (We might as well laugh at them.)
Ten Lads a Shooting
Sing with me, “On the tenth day of homeschool, my children gave to me ten Lads a Shooting, nine Gals a Prancing, eight Dawdlers Dawdling, seven Kids in P.J.s, six Missing Textbooks, five pot-ty breaks! Four Messy Rooms, three Toddler Tantrums, two Major Meltdowns, and a Headache that Laster ’till Three.” I’m not a fan of gun violence, and in today’s world, the topic isn’t light! But I am the mother of a boy who lived as if “shooting” was a natural part of his DNA. (In truth, I believe it is natural for boys to be defenders of life and liberty!) But I digress. My point of today’s post is to talk about what to do with rambunctious children – if they are girls or boys prone to weaponry and shenanigans.
While I was as playful as I could be with my children and started up a few “eraser wars” all my myself out of boredom, I knew that there was a time and place to curb outbursts in the middle of a homeschool day. So, I did two things. One, I created a list of “School Rules” to outline what was and was not permissible. Out of 20 rules, rule #3 read exactly like this:
“No objects are to be tossed or thrown in the classroom, neither will there be any shootings in or out of the classroom (meaning students upstairs.).”
Obviously, this rule was created to deal with a real (annoying) problem! I guess we who were downstairs were irresistible sitting ducks for my son. I can see him now, poised and ready to fire with a Nerf gun in the middle of language arts – which leads me to my second point. To deal with breaking a school rule, I resorted to fining my children 25 cents per violation out of their allowance. If you could see my list of fines! (I have saved them.) On a simple piece of notebook paper that hung inside our homeschool cabinet, I wrote down their various offenses, which were tallied at the end of the month for payment due. These offenses looked like this (in birth order):
—Ron (their dad, who worked at home and frequently added to the mischief): putting ice in Heather’s ear
—Linda (I, too, was fined for breaking the school rules!): vulgar talk, being a “mean” mother, sleeping in class, unauthorized phone calls (there was more than one of these!)
—Heather: making faces, yelling, moaning
—Kyle: shooting, hitting, arguing, throwing, and “baby powder” (whatever that means! He was probably flinging it around.)
—Ashley: squealing, yelling, climbing, leaving books out, and “being annoying”
I guess this list of fines speaks for itself. We’re a real family with real bouts of pestering and nonsense. By the way, we gave the money we collected from these fines to missions! We wanted to make something good out of the “not-so-good.”
Eleven Teasers Teasing
“On the eleventh day of homeschool, my children gave to me eleven Teasers Teasing. . . ” It’s not unusual for kids and grownups to “tease” each other. We do it all the time over the littlest of things. (Mispronounce a word in our household, and the dictionary police will be all over you!) But clearly, playful teasing can easily cross the line to cruel teasing. In that case, it would be better to call it bullying. That word has a much stronger connotation in our society, as it should. There is NO place in a family for bullying, cruel words, and unnecessary taunting. Since it may come naturally, by the close proximity of family members, how do we shut down severe teasing? The best way I know is to take this problem to Scripture and then practice what you preach.
In other words, from the earliest of days, as soon as siblings lean toward cruelty, take them to what the Bible says about their brother or sister to offset the negativity. For example, 1) Every family member is made in the image of God, giving them inherent value! (Gen 1:27). 2) Jesus taught the Golden Rule. (Luke 6:31). 3) We are commanded to love with “brotherly” affection. (Rom. 12:10). 4) Love is patient and kind . . . (1 Cor 13:4-5). And 5) We are to speak evil of no one. (Titus 3:2).
Those are but a few passages. It’s easy to find more. If you need to, print them, post them, and memorize them. Let God’s Word speak into your children’s lives. And then, live it! This means that our talk, conversation, pet names, and phone calls (in ear range of our little ones) should be wholesome and uplifting at all times. None of us gets this entirely right, but our children ARE listening. And they will remember the tone that was set in our homes. Unfortunately, I was teased a lot as a child. It comes with being head and shoulders shorter than everyone else. But I knew I was loved at home! It was something my mom and dad said to me every day, with lots of hugs and kisses. How grateful I am that I was safe at home to offset the world’s taunting. Keep your home a safe place for your kiddos and nip the teasing monster. His bite is a bad one!
Twelve Squabblers Squabbling
And for our last stanza, “On the twelfth day of homeschool, my children gave to me, twelve Squabblers Squabbling. . .” Not to give an excuse, but I feel it is inevitable that siblings will spat. They share the same home, the same toys, the same pets, the same parents, and much more. Unfortunately, the sinful nature of mankind can rear its ugly head when siblings are in such close proximity. What are we to do with our kids when the selfish monster comes out? Well, as I suggested on Day 11, one of the best things we can do is to steer them toward God’s Word. His laws are higher than our laws, and they speak volumes about “loving one another.”
Otherwise, I have two thoughts for you about squabblers. One, it has been my observation that some minor squabbling is “necessary.” For example, when my son would choose to be rude, crude, or poke his sisters where he shouldn’t, they needed to put the breaks on him. I would allow for this “natural” learning! The girls were teaching him a lesson about respecting others while they were practicing the skill of setting proper boundaries with boys. Within reason, I let the chips fall where they may as they sorted through the issues of personal body space. Of course, some squabbles are of a much more serious nature and require adult intervention, especially if the situation is getting physical. When that is the case, children need to be separated (for safety’s sake) and disciplined. Physical harm was not tolerated in our home. Even in play, I was not comfortable with too much roughhousing!
On a second note, when recurrent minor spats were spoiling our day, I tried, above all to help my children restore their relationship with each other. You see, ultimately, I’m not just seeking peace and quiet in my home, I’m aiming for my children to be in deep, caring, loving relationships with each other. Sibling relationships will last a lifetime and will probably exist beyond my years here on earth. I want my kids to be as close as they can. So, one trick up my sleeve to help with squabbling squabblers was to insist my kids play the Touch Game. The rules were simple. First, after separating them, I had them stand face-to-face like soldiers. Second, they were to touch toes. Then, touch knees, then elbows, then shoulders, and on and on until eventually, they were touching cheek to cheek or nose to nose until they were giggling over the entire silly mess. (By the end of it, the kids were entwined like they were playing the vintage game of Twister.)
This was, of course, a light-hearted approach to breaking the tension between the kids. I realize that some families are struggling with much worse angst, which far exceeds the Touch Game. For you, I pray the Lord will help you find the special guidance you need to strengthen the love between family members. It’s a blessing when siblings love each other and a burden when they don’t. And the truth is, sometimes we’re in need of something like the Touch Game, where we are forced to face our anger and impatience and replace it with hugs and kisses. I pray this for you as well!
For now, it’s time to sign off from The 12 Days of Homeschool. I hope this genuine peek at my family encourages you to stay the course. We were far from being the perfect homeschool family. But we persevered, and by God’s grace, turned out a pretty close-knit bunch. In fact, our family theme song is “Love Shack” by the B-52s. Ron used this song once in a family movie, and it’s stuck. If you ever hear it on the radio, just think of the Hobars.
And now I finish with the final chorus of The 12 Days of Homeschool. (Thanks for joining me!)
THE 12 DAYS OF HOMESCHOOL
On the twelfth day of homeschool,
my students gave to me:
Twelve Squabbling Squabbers
Eleven Teasers Teasing
Ten Lads a Shooting
Nine Gals a Prancing
Eight Dawdlers Dawdling
Seven Kids in P.J.s
Six Missing Textbooks
Five Pot-ty Breaks!
Four Messy Rooms
Three Toddler Tantrums
Two Major Meltdowns
and a Headache that Lasted ’till Three.
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Copyright 2016 Linda Lacour Hobar