12 Apr

Life’s Toolbelt


Stop for a moment and consider your life and how it begins. We come into this world with nothing and leave with nothing too although we are a race of accumulators.
Consider what we gather over a lifetime, money, cars, houses, friends, lables, awards… The list is long.
Let’s also consider the invisible things, baggage from failed relationships, good and bad memories, guilt, egos, promises, love and pain.
As we travel the journey of life we collect our tools and useful things from parents, teachers and friends.
From a parents perspective I look at this differently than some may so let me explain why.
I carefully consider this as the mom of an adult daughter and a teenage son, I’ve been there and am there again.
There are 10 years between them and my how quickly times change.
Every parent thinks of things they’d do different and I’m not alone.
My daughter was pegged “gifted” early on by a teacher, she is artistic, creative and deeply thoughtful and quiet she got good grades, was beautiful and teachers knew who she was.
She began kindergarten as scheduled and by 2nd grade was put in “enrichment”, and graduated on time. She blossomed and sailed forward, she is now a mother and I learn from her, she is an amazing person.piumini moncler outlet
Move forward 10 years, my son went to Pre-K, then Kindergarten, pause here, he also is creative and a deep thinker, and very active. This was a far different experience, he was pegged early as “busy” and it followed him, every teacher complained, he doesn’t pay attention, he daydreams, disrupts class, it was pretty clear where we were going.
By the 4th grade his teacher was so clearly biased on his behavior and unwilling to help. He was clearly the one suffering, I had to do something.
I was given the tool of persistence and know how to use it.
So I set out to learn about what was happening and how to help him. He was clearly not happy, his self esteem so low, being picked on and left out I could see what was happening.
Both of my kids got open table discussions from me at home and we have honest conversations. I was getting feedback from him that coincided with what I was hearing from his teachers and other teachers who observed what was happening and called me to warn me.
I tried to follow the channels in place to get support but the channels were broken. I dutifully took him to Neuro Pediatric specialists who gave the ADHD diagnosis, I foolishly believed this was the way to go. Even the diagnosis wasn’t enough to get immediate help and he was suffering. One individual flat out refused to look at it and said we’d revisit the placement of a 504 plan for him, but next year was a long way off.
Enter cyber school and the rest is history. I found a team who did want to help, who cared and wanted to teach him. I didn’t have to beg, the support was there. I began to realize that I was not the only parent watching this happen in the current school system, I was surrounded by people with similar stories. it is a cookie cutter system that some just don’t fit into, sadly many don’t have the options in my house.
Homeschooling was a pretty unpopular choice back then, I knew only one person who chose this, but one was more than none and that was all I needed. We’ve done this for 5 years now and it works.
Nowadays he is older and in high school so we have more one on one time to talk. And of late since our lifestyle has slowed and changed so different things go on at out house. My illness made it so that I needed his help, had to teach him how to do household tasks, cook and more, it has been a blessing to have him here.
So part of what we do weekly is watch educational videos and TED talks as a conversation starter. We talk medical, scientific, nature, nutrition, history and more…. It’s not so much the topics but the teachability of the things that come up.
The freedom we have to mold him one on one to follow an authentic life is one of the things I treasure most and the thing I’d like to redo with my daughter. 
I consciously think about his tool belt and make conscious decisions to put things there.
Kindness, humility, servitude to others, curiosity, responsibility, a relationship with God, respect, an understanding of nutrition and keeping a healthy body, good habits and a loving countenance.
He was allowed to use his own saved money to buy a tractor, an old Farmall H that needed some TLC. It has been almost a year since then, and I could not have dreamed with the world’s best teachers the lessons he learned.
The discipline and maturity were first, he had to seek out people who knew about the mechanics of it and learn whatever he could to make it work. He learned about money, he worked and saved to get parts and have repairs done. We did no favors and allowed him to get frustrated (just ask him) and find solutions.
These are tangible skills… He isn’t slaying aliens in a video game with planned outcomes, this is trial and error.
There is no medal for everyone at the end of the game, his prize is a tractor that runs and it all depends on the effort he puts in. 
He learned things like respect, patience, perseverance, communication, gratefulness, humility, things he will use in real life.
He learned mechanical procedures, the people who donated time to help him all brought knowledge to share. He had to listen to sage advice and do his own research, combine the two and find solutions to problems.
So I will leave you now with some points to consider.
Mike Rowe recently came out speaking about and entire generation without laymen skills, without builders, farmers, mechanics, laborers what kind of world will it be?
All the techie stuff doesn’t fix it, build it feed or make it, does it?
The debt for college students is incredibly high and the employment rate is low, is this working? Who is paying for this?
The median age of today’s farmer is 59 years old, who will feed us?
Today’s schools are becoming political and unsafe, shootings, stabbings, prescription drug problems, unethical teachers… all you have to do is read the news.
In my 26 years of parenting I have watched it decline and change, there are sad realities.
I am one voice, one person, not a genius, not the best at anything except knowing and loving my children. And so are you my friend, you know best for your children, don’t forget that.
This is the main reason why my son does his cyber school classes and his homework and then is free…
Free to learn with his hands, to be dirty, to embrace the world and drink in the lessons. Yes he has work to do, the barn requires attention and animals depend on him. I cannot think of a better way to teach parenting and responsibility than to give a kid a baby something and then teach them to care for it. He has chores and jobs that his dad and I put on  a list for him, he works.
There is no silvery bubble that will pop when he reaches adulthood, he understands very well that he is the biggest piece of the puzzle that will make his life happen.  Anyone can do this on a farm or in a small house on an acre, it is not anything more than an approach with ideas. His tool belt will continue to be filled with things that will serve him through life. Lessons, hard ones, life is not easy and can be confusing, it is so much easier when you know who you are.
I have a belief that at 10 years old or so we are very much an authentic version of ourselves, I have seen this in my own life and in my kids. The heart of who we are is formed and though life may set us in different roles and we may evolve this heart remains there, it is up to us as adults to tap into that.
I knew very early in life that I saw the world differently, at 10 I was not consumed with appearances and tainted by media. We had no TV set, the farm and the world around me was my playground. I loved animals, nature and books, I felt things, deep compassion for others and had a heart that wanted to help. I have not changed, that person still exists, if you know me you know this is true.
I see it in both of my children and it makes me smile…my girl is not spending time in a dryer box with cats and playing Polly Pocket and my boy’s pockets are not teeming with bugs and snail shells anymore, things have changed and time moves on. But they are the same in so many ways.
If you, like me,  don’t like what you see in this world then do something different. Don’t look at  God and say, “it’s broken, do something!” His reply may challenge you as it did me, he said “I did, I made you”.
Innovation does not come from cookie cutter societies. It is driven by the open minded, the eccentric, the free thinkers who tap into education and let it shape them while following their heart and ingenuity, they break down walls and open doors for the rest of the world.
Blessings, Marla


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