Wednesday, July 6, 2011


My son came running in from the dark this evening
as his father finished spreading manure out in the front field.
"Mom, guess what I found!"

That, I must say,
is a tall request.


One of my first jobs when I was a little girl
was setting and clearing the table.

I remember the oh-so-heavy tan dishes
with orange flowers on them,
the cumbersome empty pots,
the clanging silverware that wanted to jettison off the towering plates.

My dad was not one to involve himself much with the kitchen.
He grew up in a Russian home
where his mother and sisters did all that "woman" work.
But he has such a sweet heart,
and did a great job at his "man" work,
so I'm not complaining about who he is at all.

I remember him watching me clear the table one evening,
and calling me back to the table after I'd just finished
"wiping" it with the damp rag.

"Bend over like this," he instructed me,
as he hunched down so that his eyes were level with the table top.

I did so,
and saw the dancing array of neglected salt spatter,
soggy pebbles of potato crumbs,
and greasy streaks of hurried attempt to wash it all away.

"What do you see?  Is the table clean?"
He then took the time to show me how to wash the table,
in careful rhythmic sweeps,
gently guiding the uneaten morsels into his palm
where he then closed his grip
and showed them into the garbage can.

He then bent over again,
to be eye-level with the table
and said,
"Now look."

On countless evenings after that,
after my job was completed,
I'd look over at my dad,
bend to eye-level with the table,
check my work,
and then head off to the kitchen.

The other day after church,
I told my son to unbutton his church shirt and put on his t-shirt.
He touched his buttons
and then looked up at me, confused.

"Unbutton them," I reminded.

I watched as he struggled with the circular objects,
twisting and pulling on them.

It was then that I realized,
I'd never taught my boy to unbutton.
He only wore button up shirts on Sundays,
and I was always in a hurry to get to church,
so one of us always did it for him;
and then hurried to get it off of him before lunch.
I gasped.
Talk about feeling like a bad mother!
I had just assumed he'd learn something so simple on his own.

But he's not that way.
He can tell you that his favorite dinosaur is a Protoceratops;
that praying mantis and cryptic mantis are in the same family
but they look different;
he can list off 8 different kinds of whales,
a fleet of unusual bugs,
how many squid are in his favorite ocean books;
remind you that Jonah was a prophet that ran away from God
because he didn't want to go to Ninevah,
so he got swallowed by a big fish;
he will sit and watch a caterpillar eat a leaf for a half hour.

But somewhere in his head,
he seems to very often miss out on the simple things.
Perhaps having an older and bossy helpful sister
who always helps him get things done
because she's in a hurry and doesn't want to wait,
(and then his mother tends to be the same way)
has made him be a bit more reliant on things that just don't interest him.

I often have to remind myself with Levi
that I need to explain things to him,

The other day his dad told him to go out and pick up the sticks
that had fallen in the yard after a windy storm had passed through.

"You won't get much results with those instructions,
at least not anytime soon,"
I confessed to my husband as our son wandered around the yard.

"It might help if you tell him how many branches you want him to get."

My husband opened the door and called for him to pick up ten branches.
It was as if Levi's brain went into gear.
He knew what he needed to do
and how to get it done.

In no time at all,
he'd piled the branches onto the burn pile.

I've discovered there is something about numbers
and counting
that get his brain into gear
and he starts moving like he's been sparked.

When we pick berries, I tell him he needs to pick 35,
and then he gets right to it.
Of course, I have to be there with him still,
or the count is reduced drastically by being lost in his mouth.

Sometimes I wonder how much to expect from a four year old boy.
Sometimes I get impatient and think he needs to wake up to these simple things.

But then other times
I realize he just needs to be instructed,
as my father took time to do for me,
and that there is a certain way to instruct that reaches some kids

I'm not talking about disobedience
or laziness;
I do have to recognize when they are the issue,
and they show up in his life as well.

But I've learned to recognize the confusion
and the frustration in his eyes,
the blank look of not understanding.

Parenting is tricky.
It involves so much prayer
analyzing situations, personalities, and procedures.

Each child is so incredibly different from the next.
"It's a click bug, Mom.
Did you know the click bug is actually a beatle?
Beatles can fly, you know.
So click bugs can fly.

It's called a click bug because it clicks
when you put it on the table upside-down,
like this:"

As I listened to him at the table talking about the click bug,

I knelt down and scanned the top of the dinner table
that I'd been distracted from finishing.
Some lessons are never forgotten.

Thanks, Dad.

Kellys Korner Blog
(Parenting tip: each child is different.  Patience in understanding each child
is an important love.)

Raising Homemakers


  1. Another lovely and ever so well-written post.


  2. What a lovely story. You are so right about the teaching part. I remember last week my husband asked my son to do something and then looked at me exasperated because the boy did not know how to do it. I said to my husband, but did you teach him how first.
    I think we forget sometimes that children have to be taught everything before you can expect them to do it. My boys love bugs too and finding a click bug is always fun.

  3. What a wonderful post. Sometimes, I am in such a hurry, I fail to explain things, too.

    You are doing the great job...sometimes I have trouble with buttons, too.

  4. You are such a good mom! And a great writer. Your kids are lucky to have these stories for when they are parents.

  5. Tonya, you touched my heart. Thank you.

  6. That was so cute! I love your writing. It is hard. It is funny how the little lights come on in our mommy brains to see them each individually and teach them the way they need to learn. All 4 of mine are different and need different instruction on how to's or what to's. It is exciting when God shows me how to teach them.

  7. really liked reading this and looking at the pics of your sweet little guy.

  8. Parenting certainly is a challenge. Sounds like you're learning along with your little one. Also sounds like your dad was a good teacher. Thank you for sharing.

  9. What a sweet post! Thanks so much for sharing. So glad I came over from the HHH!!


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  11. Wow! You are so right. We forget to slow down and teach so often! thank you for the reminder!

  12. Great stories all wrapped up in here with something to learn. On many levels. I have to say, I've never met a "click bug". Hmm... And thanks for the reminder to slow down and explain things to the little's. Something that is too easily forgotten with the mentality of just getting my to do list checked off.

  13. My son hasn't started bringing bugs in the house yet but I'm very nervous about that day. I'm not to good with bugs but I will be learning.

    Your newest follower from Homemaker By Choice!

  14. Wow...can't believe i haven't visited your site before. I love the way you weave your life into your own life lessons. What a beautiful post! Thank you for sharing...and yes, children are all so different. and just when I think I have mine figured out...they change!

    Thank you for this beautiful post!


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