Summer hasn’t reached its full strength yet and spring’s chill has long worn off. So it’s the perfect time to do some fun learning outside. We have a great sandbox that the boys love to play in. They move the top off themselves and generally proceed to having a sand throwing fight. Boys being boys. They do have shovels and a bucket in the sand box with them and I expect that those tools will allow me many opportunities to teach different concepts and later to build things. This week I watched what the kids were doing on the first day. They both like to fill up the bucket with sand then dump it out. James happens to enjoy this more than Lance because James can sit there for 15 min doing it over and over. So taking my cue from them, I started telling James about filling up the bucket and the emptying out the bucket. Sometimes they say fill, never empty, or sometimes up and out. I do have to be careful. They each want to take the bucket and empty it out before their brother is done filling it up. If at happens and I’m not there to dissolve the problem, screaming and usually biting followed by some sand throwing with happen. As in all things with twins, stay close to lend a helping hand. When we got the sandbox, little did I realized that this would be a blessing & mercy to my tired mind. It lends itself to easy teaching any day of the week and my boys joyfully participate.
Oh what a torture to be around unruly children who are selfish! Oh to be a parent of one of those children is even worse! All my instructions won’t guarantee that my twins will be angels, but not doing anything guarantees that they run wild with the desires of their hearts and we were each born with a sinful nature. I’m starting young trying to teach manners and some self discipline. When the mere act of self control has progressed, I will attempt to reach their hearts and instill values and attitudes to go with the actions. This week I had reached my limit on Lance stealing James’ toys from him. The stealing happens about 2-4 times each hour. That makes for a lot of correction and sometimes exasperated yelling on mommy’s part. I knew it was time for a change when one morning at breakfast little Lance proudly said “stop it.” That’s when I knew the change needed to come now. I had to think about what I was going to do different and that took about 1.5 days. I had decided that Lance needed to give the toy back to James himself instead of mom taking from him and giving it to his brother. Then Lance needed to follow up with “Sorry.” I had mentally prepared myself for war when I first started this, but to my surprise, Lance behaved well. I did have to catch Lance first, turn him around, lead him by the shoulders and take his hand to give James the toy back. I told him he needed to say he was sorry. After a few seconds of Lance not saying anything I turned to walk away and within a few seconds he said the cutest “sorry.” I’m so glad he did. I sang his praises from here to kingdom come. James started clapping with me, they were smiling and you would have thought that was the biggest thing he had ever done. Most of the time they behave well when mom walks them back to their brother, but we have had a few times were one of them cried and acted so pitiful. I know that in learning, the boys won’t always get things right. Like at the end of the week, we went grocery shopping and they behaved so well. We had gotten in the car and I praised them for behaving only to have both boys say “sorry.” The correct usage, the change in behavior and the heart will follow some day. It reminds me to be careful of my attitude when I need to say I’m sorry and how important my example of telling my own children I’m sorry when I yell or do something I shouldn’t have. How joyful it is to extend grace and mercy to my boys, especially after they repent. How much more so does God rejoice over my repentance?
I’m surrounded by a culture that places a heavy emphasis on education and excelled learning. I am of the philosophy that says let them have fun while learning the basics and then foster their true talents and intellectual abilities when they are a little older. While I hold dearly to this belief, I must say that with outside pressure, I sometimes doubt myself. I don’t doubt that my philosophy is wrong, it is just hard to sit back and wait while everyone else is full steam ahead in expanding the intellectual areas.
So this week I deliberately focused on something not intellectual. We worked on motor skills. The boys still need to learn so many motor skills in this next year: climbing ladders, climbing ropes, stomping, marching, skipping, standing on one leg and the list goes on. We frequently sing a silly song that goes “This is the way we stomp our feet, stomp our feet, stomp our feet, this is the way we stomp our feet, all day long.” There are other verses with other movements, but we zeroed in on the stomping this week. A very quick way to get both boys smiling is to get them stomping. I think it’s the little boy need to get energy out and move, move, move. I think we sang this song about twelve times each day & twelve times a day I got to see smiles and loud giggles. At first the stomps were barely visible. They raised their feet just a wee bit. By the end of the week they had learned to lift those little high in the air, which produced even bigger smiles and louder laughter. Now I don’t even need to sing the song to get them to stomp. They have successfully learned a new skill and what it is called. What a mercy I have discovered in learning to enjoy the simple act of stomping. It makes me laugh to imagine God looking down at James and Lance learning to stomp and picturing God stomping and saying yes, that’s it boys, as He watches them grow.
You know it’s summer time when cold watermelon juice running down your chin makes ya feel cooler! We’ll actually get to that later in this post.
This week I decided to do something a bit more laid back than what we’ve been doing. We looked at the color, texture & harness of the foods that we were eating. This just might be my favorite week of tot school so far. In the past I would sometimes comment on their food that was already cooked on the plate. This week I showed them what the food looked like before I cooked it. It makes me sad to hear the reports of kids that don’t know what a potato looks like or a carrot, they just know what instant mashed potatoes & chips taste like. I grew up helping with my grandparents garden at times and my family helping grow watermelons & peas in East Texas. I know what a seed is, how it grows, the heat when you’re out harvesting and seeing farmer’s go to market or sell at roadside stands. I don’t want my kids missing out on that. They are certainly too young to really garden, but at the end of the week, we took a step closer to learning about raw foods.
Friday after lunch, we headed down to the Dallas Farmer’s Market. I must say that I envy the Pike’s Market in Seattle, but we got what we got. So we pulled up in one of the sheds & got out of the car. I really wanted to let them walk, but having two boys running in the opposite directions, pulling fruit off stands wasn’t the kind of scene I was looking for. In the stroller they went & off we went. It wasn’t too crowded. Enough people out for people watching. We saw so many varieties of greens, red, browns or oranges. The sellers were so nice, they let the boys touch a lot of things; fuzzy kiwi, sticky okra, prickly pineapple, smooth apples, bumpy cucumbers and rough cantaloupes. To top off the great learning, many farmers were giving out fresh samples. Right off the bat, the boys were handed a piece of honeydew melon, then cantaloupe, crabapple, jicama, pineapple, orange, plum, peach and our favorite the watermelon. There little faces were smiling from ear to ear as the cold juices ran down their chins, onto their clothes and all over their hands. We stayed for almost 3 hours. When I buckled them back in for the ride home, they quieted down and promptly fell asleep on the way back. They learned by experience & I got to really enjoy their learning with them. We will make this a regular monthly outing as new fruits & vegetables come to season. This week what a fun and easy mercy that God has granted me, the simple enjoyment of His bounty for us.