Burnt Toast, Handwriting Lessons, and Drawing Close to Hope
Mornings are hard.
I know I’ve written about this before. I’m not complaining (though, admittedly, I have complained about it in the past.) I’m simply stating it out of recognition. There is a difference between complaining and recognizing.
Complaining says “Oh man, I am upset about the way this morning is going, and I’m going to choose to stay upset about it.”
Recognizing says, “Mornings are hard.” Then, maybe, “How might they get better?”
One way to make a hard thing worse is to wallow in the hardship. One of my sons did this today. I’ll get to that later.
This morning, I woke up when my husband’s alarm went off. I thought about how my kids would be up soon. I thought about getting up before them, and showering in peace. I thought about the dark, quiet morning and how wonderful that is. Then I thought about how I could just stay in bed and sleep.
I heard someone get up and go to the bathroom. My 8-year-old walked into my bedroom and I told him that he could read in bed for a while. I showered while the house was still mostly quiet.
I know of many moms who choose to wake up before their kids, and I admit that when I do this, I feel much refreshment. But I like to stay up late, and I simply can’t do both.
After I showered and dressed and brushed my hair, both the boys followed me downstairs. They ate some zucchini bread. I poured a cup of coffee, had a banana, and read by myself. Then the baby was up. I got her out of bed. I fed her a banana. The boys read Dog Man and Harry Potter and then did a math lesson.
Fast forward about an hour. All my kids were making toast. I was perusing Literary Mama’s Calls for Submissions. They’ve only sent me rejections, but I’m still trying, i.e., I’m not living in the hardship, but going for hope.
Suddenly, I heard someone say, “Smoke!”
The toaster was smoking something fierce. A thick grey took over the house. The bread was completely burnt, and its essence was spreading into all our breathing air. I’m thanking God that nothing caught on fire.
Apparently, my 6-year-old son had wanted his toast to stay hot, but he wasn’t ready to eat it. After one toasting cycle, he pushed the toast back down into the hot metal grates for one more go. I was upset, and trying to make him understand the severity of his actions. I allow my kids to make toast, but not to play with the toaster. I was trying not to overreact. I understand why he did this. Hot toast is better than cold toast. He didn’t know that it would smoke like that.
We opened all the doors and windows. We turned on all the fans. That was five hours ago and my house still smells like smoke.
We moved on with our daily lessons. Handwriting was next.
My 6-year-old started crying. He said he didn’t want to do his handwriting. He didn’t want to write or draw. I still don’t know why. He usually loves handwriting and drawing. I told him that he needed to tell me more. I told him that just saying, “I don’t want to” is not helpful. That doesn’t tell me anything. I told him something I’ve been saying to both my boys lately:
BE A PROBLEM SOLVER, NOT A PROBLEM MAKER.
Living in a state of grumpiness is a problem. Talking about it, moving on, is a solution.
I get sad, too. I get angry. There are lots of things that I don’t like to do. But I do not allow my children to just tell me, “I don’t want to.” They must tell me more. If I were to allow my children to only do what they wanted, all our lives would be miserable. This is an exercise in communication, and one thing that I never anticipated when we decided to homeschool. Because we are a family (because we are human), we are constantly finding ourselves engulfed in selfishness. I encouraged my son to look deeper into why he didn’t want to do this lesson.
I took my 6-year-old into the sunroom. I sat him on the couch. I tried to explain to him that he was not to live in grumpiness. I told him that this is a house of peace. I urged him to say, “I receive peace.” He just sat, wailing, as if in terrible pain.
Maybe he was in terrible pain. I don’t know. Maybe he was still hurt by the burnt toast episode. I don’t pledge to be a superstar mom, or to tell you that you should do what I do. This is my story, and I believe that life encouragement is buried in this story.
I wrapped my son in a blanket. I left him alone. I heard him saying, “I want mommy,” tears falling from his eyes like a waterfall. At first, when he was just a little upset, he sat gently wallowing in his rill of misery. But that rill got bigger. Then he was helpless, free-falling off of emotional waterfalls.
I grabbed a book called, “God’s Gifts.” This is a Little Jewel Book, one of many from that set that were given to my family a few years ago. They are just sweet little, easy readers. In this moment, I thought it couldn’t hurt to remind ourselves of some goodness. I started to read it and my son started to calm down. Then we read two other books, giggling and snuggling close.
It wasn’t about the books, but about the closeness.
We stayed in the sunroom, a cool breeze blowing into our lungs. We finished our lessons there.
My 8-year-old son’s language arts assignment today was to read poetry and write two acrostic poems. He loves to read, but really does not like to write. This is hard for me because I love to write. Still, I know that he is a kid, so I try to help him. Stay tuned for a post about the beauty of acrostic poems and how to actually help your kids (or yourself) write one that has a little bit of literary value!
[Featured Image: Photo by Patrick Selin on Unsplash]