Tag Archive | James 3

Putting out fire with gasoline


Here’s the song reference.

The fire reference in the title of this post is strictly metaphorical.  I scared the daylights out of some readers with a headline several months back, so I thought I’d clarify that.

Yesterday was not full of entries for the Big Book of Harmonious Homeschooling, to put it mildly.  I had taken Bugaboo and Beanie out on Sunday night, after Mr. Man and Baby Guy were abed, to peruse the offerings a local craft store.  We were running a little low on the foam craft kits they love, and with my educator’s discount on top of the sale, such could be had for about $0.45 each.  A chance meeting with a friend at the end of our shopping led to a lengthy conversation, which resulted in the girls not getting to bed until after 10 p.m.  Their regular bedtime, for reference purposes, is 8:00.

I was therefore surprised (and not pleasantly) when Bugaboo grouched her way down the hallway at 7:00 yesterday morning, voicing a litany of complaints about everything from the hue of the sunlight to the family policy of not turning on the television on weekday mornings.  Beanie followed her a couple of minutes later, and when I did not immediately drop the books I was shelving to wrap her up in a hug and cover her face with kisses, she set up a shrill shrieking, which resumed at the least provocation for the next four hours.

The less said about our lessons, the better, although we did manage to work in some extra story time.  We’ve retrieved all of the Christmas stories from their hiding places on various bookshelves, and while the girls were concocting reasons not to do their assignments, the five of us enjoyed some good literature, including several stories from the Book of Genesis, which will hopefully give rise to some art projects today.  Yesterday, there was no way anyone was going to be trusted with a pair of scissors.

I finally lost my cool at around 10:30, after Bugaboo told me she didn’t know what numbers were, and joined in the screaming for a few moments before calling my ever-patient husband, who admonished everyone, including me, about not settling our differences with raised voices.  After that, we cleared the books off the table, had a little lunch, and four tiny people were marched off to their cozy beds for a nap.

We normally separate Bugaboo and Beanie for nap time, as they tend to play with each other instead of taking actual naps; Bugaboo generally enjoys crashing on the loveseat in the living room, while Beanie cannot be without her giant Hello Kitty and Funshine, so she sticks to her own bed for naps.  Yesterday, nary a sound was heard from the girls’ room for just over 2 1/2 hours.  When I woke them so we could be about an errand that absolutely had to be run, they bore a much stronger resemblance to our beautiful daughters instead of banshees with toothaches.

As we drove to our afternoon destination, I talked with the girls over the chattering and chortling of Mr. Man and Baby Guy.  The exact conversation would be tough to reproduce here (five people, one of whom doesn’t know many actual words, talking at once) in its entirety, but the upshot of it was that while the correct response to being tired is to go back to sleep instead of spending the morning shrieking, defying, crying, and complaining, that my response to their behavior had been a bad example.  We all apologized to each other, and the girls and I took turns explaining what we could have done differently.  Mine included cutting the previous night’s conversation short in order to get the girls to bed at a reasonable hour.  They can’t drive themselves home, and I’m supposed to be the adult in the room.

For a day on which the school books were largely set dressing for a bad melodrama, we did okay in the important lessons arena.

Today’s prayer:  Lord, thank You for the little blessings You have entrusted to my care.  Please keep me mindful that they will learn many lessons from me, and that I must guard my mind, heart, and tongue carefully so that they will learn to show love and kindness to all Your children.  If I speak with a haughty and angry mouth, then praise You sweetly, I am teaching them hypocrisy instead of love and humility.  Please engrave the words of Your servant, James, on my heart:

“James 3

New International Version (NIV)

Taming the Tongue

3 Not many of you should become teachers, my fellow believers, because you know that we who teach will be judged more strictly.2 We all stumble in many ways. Anyone who is never at fault in what they say is perfect, able to keep their whole body in check.

3 When we put bits into the mouths of horses to make them obey us, we can turn the whole animal. 4 Or take ships as an example. Although they are so large and are driven by strong winds, they are steered by a very small rudder wherever the pilot wants to go. 5 Likewise, the tongue is a small part of the body, but it makes great boasts. Consider what a great forest is set on fire by a small spark. 6 The tongue also is a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body. It corrupts the whole body, sets the whole course of one’s life on fire, and is itself set on fire by hell.

7 All kinds of animals, birds, reptiles and sea creatures are being tamed and have been tamed by mankind, 8 but no human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison.

9 With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse human beings, who have been made in God’s likeness. 10 Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers and sisters, this should not be. 11 Can both fresh water and salt water flow from the same spring? 12 My brothers and sisters, can a fig tree bear olives, or a grapevine bear figs? Neither can a salt spring produce fresh water.

Two Kinds of Wisdom

13 Who is wise and understanding among you? Let them show it by their good life, by deeds done in the humility that comes from wisdom. 14 But if you harbor bitter envy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast about it or deny the truth. 15 Such “wisdom” does not come down from heaven but is earthly, unspiritual, demonic. 16 For where you have envy and selfish ambition, there you find disorder and every evil practice.

17 But the wisdom that comes from heaven is first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere. 18 Peacemakers who sow in peace reap a harvest of righteousness.”

Lord, please guide my sowing, so that my harvest may be that which is pleasing to You.

Not quite right


One topic of conversation that never fails to generate lots of laughter at our parish moms’ group is the hilarity that often accompanies growing vocabularies. Kids really do say the funniest things, and the reason they are funny is because the children uttering the slightly askew words or phrases are completely innocent of the meanings of their mispronunciations.  Heaven knows our tribe has had, and continues to have, its share of anguished English, with occasionally uproarious results.  For example, all of our children have had a dreadful time properly pronouncing the word, “sit,” which is unfortunate because that’s quite the oft-spoken word around here.  So far, Bugaboo, Beanie, and Baby Guy have all managed to holler, “shit, shit SHIT,” at a sibling who refused to remain seated in a chair or shopping cart.  It is, I believe, a law of nature that small children will only do this when there is a large crowd of people present, each member of which is ready to extend a glower at the (apparently) cursing child.

Mr. Man’s current bon mot is “snake” for steak, while one of his buddies has finally mastered the pronunciation of “truck.”  Bugaboo, who has always loved to sing, used to proudly belt out “Jesus Wants Me for a Zombie” to any audience, and Beanie once reduced the entire checkout section at Wegmans to helpless laughter by pointing to those helium-filled objects that are the objects of most small children’s desire and loudly asking, “Mommy, wan’ some big boobs pease?”  I will never forget the sweet, octogenarian lady who turned to my little girl with a merry smile and said, “Sweetie, so do I.”  Then there was Bugaboo, who strikes up conversations with anyone who stops to say hello when we go shopping, responding to the question of an elderly gentleman who inquired of her what she was helping Mommy find at the big store one day with, “My Daddy needs some new panties.  He uses the potty, you know.”

Then there was the beat-all that emanate from Beanie.  My stock answer to the “I wants” used to be, “Hey, Mommy wants a Maserati, but that’s not happening either.”  One day, Beanie was striking out on all fronts with her “I wants,” and when I employed my standard reply, she burst into tears, wailing,  “I don’ WANNA mommysnotty!”  It took me almost ten minutes to compose myself enough to call my husband to relay that one.

Mr. Man is a huge fan of all the Bill Martin, Jr. books.  The example above is the only one that still has a photographable cover.  After a dinner that involved four pasta-coated faces, followed by a rowdy hour in the yard, Mr. Man wandered upstairs, grabbed a stack of books, and clambered into my lap for some storytime.  I absolutely love that he calls Baby Guy over to join him when he decides it’s time to read.  At any rate, we read through several of his favorite board books; when we had finished his initial selections, Mr. Man meandered back to the bookshelf to choose a couple more, since he didn’t have to take turns with his sisters and Baby Guy hasn’t yet figured out how to crawl while carrying a book.  Seizing his favorite (and the best-known, I suspect) Bill Martin title, he ran back to me, waving his trophy in the air and merrily shouting, “BOOM CHICKA WOW WOW BOOM CHICKA WOW WOW!”

I couldn’t help it.  I laughed so hard tears squirted out of my eyes.  When I recovered myself, two little boys were sitting in front of me, staring at me with puzzled smiles on their faces.  Gathering both boys and the book into my lap, I started up a rhythmic chant of “Chicka Chicka Boom Boom” until Mr. Man was saying it correctly and clapping his hands to the beat — which had the bonus effect of getting him to clap his hands every time the phrase “chicka chicka boom boom” came up in the book as we read.

It occurs to me that moments like those are the ones the Lord sends to remind us that teaching and learning are both pretty enjoyable if I have the right attitude, and that the proper response to making and correcting errors is taking the moment to recognize the humor in our mistakes.

Incidentally, I’d love to read any stories of mangled language any of you care to share.

Today’s prayer:  Lord, thank You for laughter, for Your blessings who are learning to speak, and for the abundance of ways You have provided for them to learn new words through books, music, and playing with friends.  Remind me to always keep a light heart when correcting them for even serious errors, and to teach them to enjoy the moment of levity when they realize a mistake.  Please, Lord, teach me to enjoy that same brief laugh when I err, as I often do, and to make my corrections with good humor and gratitude for the opportunity to fix my errors, so Your blessings will see that, while we’d rather not make mistakes, we will because we are not You, and You will grant us to wisdom to laugh at our own folly if we ask it of You.