Love Alone Can Awaken Love: A Father’s Day Story

The Star of Bethlehem

Mamacita says:  This is, technically, a Christmas story, but I always think of it as a Father’s Day story.  It’s early to be posting about Father’s Day, but here we are.  This story is about love, pure love. It’s about the love of a man for his wife, which became possible because of the love of a father for his son.

This is one of my favorite short stories. It was in the Literature book my 6th graders used for many years; I was sorry to see that for the latest edition, new my last year of teaching public school, the editors had chosen to remove this story. Their reasoning? “Too many kids these days have no father and would probably not understand the story.”

I am horrified.

Here is the story that was removed from this Literature series. I hope you all love it as much as I do.

Happy Father’s Day, Dad. I never once heard you say that you loved any of us, but I always knew you did because of your actions. And sometimes, in spite of your actions.

==

“Christmas Day in the Morning”  by Pearl S. Buck

He woke suddenly and completely.  It was four o’clock, the hour at which his father had always called him to get up and help with the milking.  Strange how the habits of his youth clung to him still!  Fifty years ago, and this father had been for thirty years, and yet he waked at four o’clock in the morning.  He had trained himself to turn over and go to sleep, but this morning, because it was Christmas, he did not try to sleep.

Yet what was the magic of Christmas now?  His childhood and youth were long past, and his own children had grown up and gone.  Some of them lived only a few miles away but they had their own families, and though they would come in as usual toward the end of the day, they had explained with infinite gentleness that they wanted their children to build Christmas memories about their houses, not his.  He was left alone with his wife.

Yesterday she had said, “It isn’t worthwhile, perhaps–”

And he had said, “Oh, yes, Alice, even if there are only the two of us, let’s have a Christmas of our own.”

Then she had said, “Let’s not trim the tree until tomorrow, Robert — just so it’s ready when the children come.  I’m tired.”

He had agreed, and the tree was still out in the back entry.

Why did he feel so awake tonight?  For it was still night, a clear and starry night.  No moon, of course, but the stars were extraordinary!  Now that he thought of it, the stars seemed always large and clear before the dawn of Christmas Day.  There was one star now that was certainly larger and brighter than any of the others.  He could even imagine it moving, as it had seemed to him to move one night long ago.

He slipped back in time, as he did so easily nowadays.  He was fifteen years old and still on his father’s farm.  He loved his father.  He had not known it until one day a few days before Christmas, when he had overheard what his father was saying to his mother.

“Mary, I hate to call Rob in the mornings.  He’s growing so fast and he needs his sleep.  If you could see how he sleeps when I go in to wake him up!  I wish I could manage alone.”

“Well, you can’t, Adam.”  His mother’s voice was brisk.  “Besides, he isn’t a child anymore.  It’s time he took his turn.”

“Yes,” his father said slowly.  “But I sure do hate to wake him.”

When he heard these words, something in him woke: his father loved him!  He had never thought of it before, taking for granted the tie of their blood.  Neither his father nor his mother talked about loving their children – they had no time for such things.  There was always so much to do on a farm.

Now that he knew his father loved him, there would be no more loitering in the mornings and having to be called again.  He got up after that, stumbling blind with sleep, and pulled on his clothes, his eyes tight shut, but he got up.

And then on the night before Christmas, that year when he was fifteen, he lay for a few minutes thinking about the next day.  They were poor, and most of the excitement was in the turkey they had raised themselves and in the mince pies his mother made.  His sisters sewed presents and his mother and father always bought something he needed, not only a warm jacket, maybe, but something more, such as a book.  And he saved and bought them each something, too.
He wished, that Christmas he was fifteen, he had a better present for his father.  As usual he had gone to the ten-cent store and bought a tie.  It had seemed nice enough until he lay thinking the night before Christmas, and then he wished that he had heard his father and mother talking in time for him to save for something better.

He lay on his side, his head supported by his elbow, and looked out of his attic window.  The stars were bright, much brighter than he ever remembered seeing them, and one star in particular was so bright that he wondered if it were really the Star of Bethlehem.

“Dad,” he had once asked when he was a little boy, “what is a stable?”

“It’s just a barn,” his father had replied, “like ours.”

Then Jesus had been born in a barn, and to a barn the shepherds and the Wise Men had come, bringing their Christmas gifts!

The thought struck him like a silver dagger.  Why should he not give his father a special gift too, out there in the barn?  He could get up early, earlier than four o’clock, and he could creep into the barn and get all the milking done.  He’d do it alone, milk and clean up, and then when his father went in to start the milking, he’d see it all done.  And he would know who had done it.

He laughed to himself as he gazed at the stars.  It was what he would do, and he mustn’t sleep too sound.

He must have waked twenty times, scratching a match each time to look at his old watch — midnight, and half past one, and then two o’clock.

At a quarter to three he got up and put on his clothes.  He crept downstairs, careful of the creaky boards, and let himself out.  The big star hung lower over the barn roof, a reddish gold.  The cows looked at him, sleepy and surprised.  It was early for them too.

“So, boss,” he whispered.  They accepted him placidly and he fetched some hay for each cow and then got the milking pail and the big milk cans.

He had never milked all alone before, but it seemed almost easy.  He kept thinking about his father’s surprise.  His father would come in and call him, saying that he would get things started while Rob was getting dressed.  He’d go to the barn, open the door, and then he’d go to get the two big empty milk cans.  But they wouldn’t be waiting or empty; they’d be standing in the milkhouse, filled.

“What the –” he could hear his father exclaiming.

He smiled and milked steadily, two strong streams rushing into the pail, frothing and fragrant.  The cows were still surprised but acquiescent.  For once they were behaving well, as though they knew it was Christmas.

The task went more easily than he had ever known it to before.  Milking for once was not a chore.  It was something else, a gift to his father who loved him.  He finished, the two milk cans were full, and he covered them and closed the milkhouse door carefully, making sure of the latch.  He put the stool in its place by the door and hung up the clean milk pail.  Then he went out of the barn and barred the door behind him.

Back in his room he had only a minute to pull off his clothes in the darkness and jump into bed, for he heard his father up.  He put the covers over his head to silence his quick breathing.  The door opened.

“Rob!” his father called.  “We have to get up, son, even if it is Christmas.”

“Aw-right,” he said sleepily.

“I’ll go on out,” his father said.  “I’ll get things started.”

The door closed and he lay still, laughing to himself.  In just a few minutes his father would know.  His dancing heart was ready to jump from his body.

The minutes were endless — ten, fifteen, he did not know how many — and he heard his father’s footsteps again.  The door opened and he lay still.

“Rob!”

“Yes, Dad –”

“You son of a –”  His father was laughing, a queer sobbing sort of a laugh.  “Thought you’d fool me, did you?” His father was standing beside his bed, feeling for him, pulling away the cover.

“It’s for Christmas, Dad!”

He found his father and clutched him in a great hug.  He felt his father’s arms go around him.  It was dark and they could not see each other’s faces.

“Son, I thank you.  Nobody ever did a nicer thing –”

“Oh, Dad, I want you to know — I do want to be good!”  The words broke from him of their own will.  He did not know what to say.  His heart was bursting with love.

“Well, I reckon I can go back to bed and sleep,” his father said after a moment.  “No, hark — the little ones are waked up.  Come to think of it, son, I’ve never seen you children when you first saw the Christmas tree.  I was always in the barn.  Come on!”

He got up and pulled on his clothes again and they went down tot he Christmas tree, and soon the sun was creeping up to where the star had been.  Oh, what a Christmas, and how his heart has nearly burst again wtih shyness and pride as his father told his mother and made the younger children listen about how he, Rob, had got up all by himself.

“The best Christmas gift I ever had, and I’ll remember it, son, every year on Christmas morning, so long as I live”

They had both remembered it, and now that his father was dead he remembered it alone; that blessed Christmas dawn when, alone with the cows in the barn, he had made his first gift of true love.

Outside the window now the great star slowly sank.  He got up out of bed and put on his skippers and bathrobe and went softly upstairs to the attic and found the box of Christmas-tree decorations.  He took them downstairs into the living room.  Then he brought in the tree.  It was a little one — they had not had a big tree since the children went away — but he set it in the holder and put it in the middle of the long table under the window.  Then carefully he began to trim it.
It was done very soon, the time passing as quickly as it had that morning long ago in the barn.

He went to his library and fetched the little box that contained his special gift to his wife, a star of diamonds, not large but dainty in design.  He had written the card for it the day before.  He tied the gift on the tree and then stood back.  It was pretty, very pretty, and she would be surprised.

But he was not satisfied.  He wanted to tell her — to tell her how much he loved her.  It had been a long time since he had really told her, although he loved her in a very special way, much more than he ever had when they were young.

He had been fortunate that she had loved him — and how fortunate that he had been able to love!  Ah, that was the true joy of life, the ability to love!  For he was quite sure that some people were genuinely unable to love anyone.  But love was alive in him, it still was.

It occurred to him suddenly that it was alive because long ago it had been born in him when he knew his father loved him.  That was it: love alone could waken love.

And he could give the gift again and again.  This morning, this blessed Christmas morning, he would give it to his beloved wife.  He could write it down in a letter for her to read and keep forever.  He went to his desk and began his love letter to his wife” My dearest love. . ..

When it was finished he sealed it and tied it on the tree where she would see it first thing when she came into the room.  She would read it, surprised and then moved, and realize how very much he loved her.

He put out the light and went tiptoeing up the stairs.  The star in the sky was gone, and the first rays of the sun were gleaming in the sky.  Such a happy, happy Christmas!

Memorial Day 2018

Mamacita says:  I think many people forget what Memorial Day is actually about.  It’s not about awesome sales.  It’s not about reunions or picnics.  It’s not about the Indy 500.  It’s not about grilling in the back yard.  We all need to stop and remember what Memorial Day signifies.

memorial day

Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends. John 15:13

The Value of Continual Learning

Bring it.

Mamacita says:  When it comes to education, I can be quite opinionated.  No, really.  I’ll debate with you about all things educational, and you might as well be prepared to back down at least a little bit because I probably won’t.  Not unless you’ve got a shiPload of experience to back yourself up.

Families that don’t value learning disgust puzzle me. How can people exist without curiosity, without continuous wondering about, well, everything? How can people NOT put two and two together every 1/4 of a second, every waking moment and a good deal of their dreaming moments? I don’t get it.And why should we have to get “four” every time we put two and two together?  Sometimes, the answer is going to be “22” or even “babies.”  It all depends on – here it comes, students – the context.

Parents used to take pride in the fact that their children were aware of and had knowledge about topics the previous generation knew nothing about.  Now, it seems as though more parents get all upset and suspicious and offended when their kids come home spouting information that’s unfamiliar to the parents.

It’s called “knowledge, ” you ignorant attention-seeking small-minded overly-sensitive easily-offended frightened twits sad, pathetic things.

I wonder if perhaps one reason so many families view their children’s education with suspicion these days is that parents no longer sit down with the kids at dinner and ask questions about their day. Getting a child’s impression of a lesson while running frantically back and forth and trying to juggle schedules, and when the parent is dog-tired and unable to properly process information, can give a parent an impression that is completely inaccurate. Our society’s inclination to find offense in just about everything also comes into play, as do families with stringent belief systems that brook no questioning. (always a red flag for me; belief systems so fragile that they’ll crumble at a child’s honest question are suspect to the max, anyway.)

Perhaps if we took the time to actually listen to our children, we might discover that the world isn’t really out to get us, so we might as well chill a little and let our children learn things we didn’t already know.

I love this little piece of writing. Funny, how there is so much power in just a few words.

==

Papa the Teacher, by Leo Buscaglia

Papa had natural wisdom. He wasn’t educated in the formal sense. When he was growing up at the turn of the century in a very small village in rural northern Italy, education was for the rich. Papa was the son of a dirt-poor farmer. He used to tell us that he never remembered a single day of his life when he wasn’t working. The concept of doing nothing was never a part of his life. In fact, he couldn’t fathom it. How could one do nothing?

He was taken from school when he was in the fifth grade, over the protestations of his teacher and the village priest, both of whom saw him as a young person with great potential for formal learning. Papa went to work in a factory in a nearby village, the very same village where, years later, he met Mama.

For Papa, the world became his school. He was interested in everything. He read all the books, magazines, and newspapers he could lay his hands on. He loved to gather with people and listen to the town elders and learn about “the world beyond” this tiny, insular region that was home to generations of Buscaglias before him. Papa’s great respect for learning and his sense of wonder about the outside world were carried across the sea with him and later passed on to his family. He was determined that none of his children would be denied an education if he could help it.

Papa believed that the greatest sin of which we were capable was to go to bed at night as ignorant as we had been when we awakened that day. The credo was repeated so often that none of us could fail to be affected by it. “There is so much to learn,” he’d remind us. “Though we’re born stupid, only the stupid remain that way.” To ensure that none of his children ever fell into the trap of complacency, he insisted that we learn at least one new thing each day. He felt that there could be no fact too insignificant, that each bit of learning made us more of a person and insured us against boredom and stagnation.

So Papa devised a ritual. Since dinnertime was family time and everyone came to dinner unless they were dying of malaria, it seemed the perfect forum for sharing what new things we had learned that day. Of course, as children we thought this was perfectly crazy. There was no doubt, when we compared such paternal concerns with other children’s fathers, Papa was weird.

It would never have occurred to us to deny Papa a request. So when my brother and sisters and I congregated in the bathroom to clean up for dinner, the inevitable question was, “What did you learn today?” If the answer was “Nothing,” we didn’t dare sit at the table without first finding a fact in our much-used encyclopedia. “The population of Nepal is. . . ,” etc.

Now, thoroughly clean and armed with our fact for the day, we were ready for dinner. I can still see the table piled high with mountains of food. So large were the mounds of pasta that as a boy I was often unable to see my sister sitting across from me. (The pungent aromas were such that, over a half century later, even in memory, they cause me to salivate.)

Dinner was a noisy time of clattering dishes and endless activity. It was also a time to review the activities of the day. Our animated conversations were always conducted in Piedmontese dialect since Mama didn’t speak English. The events we recounted, no matter how insignificant, were never taken lightly. Mama and Papa always listened carefully and were ready with some comment, often profound and analytical, always right to the point.

“That was the smart thing to do.” “Stupido, how could you be so dumb?” “Cosi sia, you deserved it.” “E allora, no one is perfect.” “Testa dura (“hardhead”) you should have known better. Didn’t we teach you anything?” “Oh, that’s nice.” One dialogue ended and immediately another began. Silent moments were rare at our table.

Then came the grand finale to every meal, the moment we dreaded most – the time to share the day’s new learning. The mental imprint of those sessions still runs before me like a familiar film clip, vital and vivid.

Papa, at the head of the table, would push his chair back slightly, a gesture that signified the end of the eating and suggested that there would be a new activity. He would pour a small glass of red wine, light up a thin, potent Italian cigar, inhale deeply, exhale, then take stock of his family.

For some reason this always had a slightly unsettling effect on us as we stared back at Papa, waiting for him to say something. Every so often he would explain why he did this. He told us that if he didn’t take time to look at us, we would soon be grown and he would have missed us. So he’d stare at us, one after the other.

Finally, his attention would settle upon one of us. “Felice,” he would say to me, “tell me what you learned today.”

“I learned that the population of Nepal is. . . .”

Silence.

It always amazed me, and reinforced my belief that Papa was a little crazy, that nothing I ever said was considered too trivial for him. First, he’d think about what was said as if the salvation of the world depended upon it.

“The population of Nepal. Hmmmmm. Well.”

He would then look down the table at Mama, who would be ritualistically fixing her favorite fruit in a bit of leftover wine. “Mama, did you know that?”

Mama’s responses were always astonishing, and seemed to lighten the otherwise reverential atmosphere. “Nepal,” she’d say. “Nepal? Not only don’t I know the population of Nepal, I don’t know where in God’s world it is!” Of course, this was only playing into Papa’s hands.

“Felice,” he’d say. “Get the atlas so we can show Mama where Nepal is.” And the search began. The whole family went on a search for Nepal. This same experience was repeated until each family member had a turn. No dinner at our house ever ended without our having been enlightened by at least a half dozen such facts.

As children, we thought very little about these educational wonders, and even less about how we were being enriched. We coudln’t have cared less. We were too impatient to have dinner end so we could join our less-educated friends in a rip-roaring game of kick the can.

In retrospect, after years of studying how people learn, I realize what a dynamic educational technique Papa was offering us, reinforcing the value of continual learning. Without being aware of it, our family was growing together, sharing experiences, and participating in one another’s education. Papa was, without knowing it, giving us an education in the most real sense.

By looking at us, listening to us, respecting our opinions, affirming our value, giving us a sense of dignity, he was unquestionably our most influential teacher.

===

We need to stop assuming that everything our children learn at school is subversive. If we listen, really listen and look and THINK, and make our kids think, too, we might discover that our kids are really learning something cool. And if we continue to look closely and PAY ATTENTION, we might be able to detect it when the schools DO teach something dreadful.  As an additional reward for listening, WE will learn something, too.

The learning of, and comparison/contrast of, almost everything is wonderful. We know nothing if we only know one side. However, the deliberate indoctrination of almost everything is a dreadful disgraceful thing.

We will know the difference only if we actually pay attention. And before you go running to the school all outraged, make bloody sure you know what you’re talking about.

P.S. I totally agree with Buscaglia’s Papa. Nothing is too insignificant to learn, everything is connected, and the universe is the best teacher and schoolroom we could hope to find.

 

Quotation Saturday, on Sunday: Mothers

quotation saturday, mamacita's blog, jane goodwin

Every Saturday: Quotations to feed your soul.

Mamacita says:  This Sunday will be, appropriately enough, a day filled with mothers.  Mine, my sisters, my niece, grandmothers, aunts, daughters, cousins, me. . . . all mothers, and several of them more than one KIND of mother.  (no, not THAT kind of mother.  Perhaps you were thinking of YOUR family?)  Many mothers.

Once upon a time, we were just sisters and wives and daughters when we got together, sharing a mom and having first names.  Now, we’re all Mom, Mommy, Grandma, Mamaw, Aunt, Great-aunt, mother-in-law . . . . I can remember days when I couldn’t remember the last time someone called me by my actual name.

I also remember, clear as a bell, the first time my child said my new name.  Mama.  That moment is etched on my heart, in beautiful calligraphy, and decorated with fresh flowers.  I still love to hear my children say “Mom.”  These women whose children refer to them by their first names, instead of some variation of mother?  I pity both woman and child.  Somethin’ WRONG wit dat.  Somebody gots her priorities all messed up.

Naturally, this doesn’t keep me from snickering at women who choose a synonym for “grandmother” that sounds like poo or a body part or an aging porn star nickname.

Contrary to popular belief, mothers are not omniscient;  we don’t have eyes in the backs of our heads, and we can’t read your mind.  The only exception to that would be MY mother.

And speaking of my mother. . . Mom, I have tried to emulate you in many ways, all of my life.  You read to us.  You sat down on the floor and played with us.  You used the power of Parenthood and created Special Days, all throughout the year.  Christmas is a holiday, sure, but it was YOU who created OUR Christmas.  I have tried to “do” holidays just as you did, all my married life.

This is MY mother. She’s still beautiful.

I’m looking forward to Sunday, dear sisters and nieces and daughters and all of the other wonderful descriptions that come with all of you.  I might be the weirdo of the bunch – oh, it’s not like I don’t KNOW that!!!! -but I might also be the most sentimental of the bunch.

1.The phrase “working mother” is redundant. ~Jane Sellman

2. The moment a child is born, the mother is also born. She never existed before. The woman existed, but the mother, never. A mother is something absolutely new. ~Rajneesh

3. I remember my mother’s prayers and they have always followed me. They have clung to me all my life. ~Abraham Lincoln

Nancy Hanks, Abraham Lincoln’s mother.

4. A mother is a person who, seeing there are only four pieces of pie for five people, promptly announces she never did care for pie. ~Tenneva Jordan

5. The heart of a mother is a deep abyss at the bottom of which you will always find forgiveness. ~Honoré de Balzac

6. He is a poor son whose sonship does not make him desire to serve all men’s mothers. ~Harry Emerson Fosdick

7. An ounce of mother is worth a pound of clergy. ~Spanish Proverb

8. My mom is a neverending song in my heart of comfort, happiness, and being. I may sometimes forget the words but I always remember the tune. ~Graycie Harmon

9. Any mother could perform the jobs of several air traffic controllers with ease. ~Lisa Alther

Mary Cassat’s art emphasized motherhood.

10. Grown don’t mean nothing to a mother. A child is a child. They get bigger, older, but grown? What’s that suppose to mean? In my heart it don’t mean a thing. ~Toni Morrison, Beloved

11. The only mothers it is safe to forget on Mother’s Day are the good ones. ~Mignon McLaughlin

12. A mom forgives us all our faults, not to mention one or two we don’t even have. ~Robert Brault

13. One good mother is worth a hundred schoolmasters. ~George Herbert

14. Mother is the name for God in the lips and hearts of little children. ~William Makepeace Thackeray

15. Every beetle is a gazelle in the eyes of its mother. ~Moorish Proverb

16. All that I am or ever hope to be, I owe to my angel Mother. ~Abraham Lincoln

17. No one in the world can take the place of your mother. Right or wrong, from her viewpoint you are always right. She may scold you for little things, but never for the big ones. ~Harry Truman

18. God could not be everywhere, so He created mothers. ~Jewish Proverb

19. Biology is the least of what makes someone a mother. ~Oprah Winfrey

20. I regard no man as poor who has a godly mother. ~ Abraham Lincoln

21. The mother loves her child most divinely not when she surrounds him with comforts and anticipates his wants, but when she resolutely holds him to the highest standards and is content with nothing less than his best. ~ Hamilton Wright Mabie

22. The hand that rocks the cradle is the hand that rules the world. ~ William Ross Wallace

23. There never was a woman like her. She was gentle as a dove and brave as a lioness… The memory of my mother and her teachings were, after all, the only capital I had to start life with, and on that capital I have made my way. ~ Andrew Jackson

24. Who is getting more pleasure from this rocking, the baby or me? ~ Nancy Thayer

25. No matter how old a mother is, she watches her middle-aged children for signs of improvement. ~ Florida Scott-Maxwell

26. Sometimes when I look at all my children, I say to myself, ‘Lillian, you should have stayed a virgin.'” ~ Lillian Carter

27. And so our mothers and grandmothers have, more often than not anonymously, handed on the creative spark, the seed of the flower they themselves never hoped to see — or like a sealed letter they could not plainly read. ~ Alice Walker

28. Women do not have to sacrifice personhood if they are mothers. They do not have to sacrifice motherhood in order to be persons. Liberation was meant to expand women’s opportunities, not to limit them. The self-esteem that has been found in new pursuits can also be found in mothering. ~ Elaine Heffner

29. If you bungle raising your children, I don’t think whatever else you do well matters very much. ~ Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis

30. I looked on child rearing not only as a work of love and duty but as a profession that was fully as interesting and challenging as any honorable profession in the world and one that demanded the best I could bring to it. ~ Rose Kennedy

31. A mother is not a person to lean on, but a person to make leaning unnecessary. ~ Dorothy Canfield Fisher

32. She was the archetypal selfless mother: living only for her children, sheltering them from the consequences of their actions — and in the end doing them irreparable harm. ~ Marcia Muller

33. Spend at least one Mother’s Day with your respective mothers before you decide on marriage. If a man gives his mother a gift certificate for a flu shot, dump him. ~ Erma Bombeck

34. No one ever died from sleeping in an unmade bed. I have known mothers who remake the bed after their children do it because there’s a wrinkle in the spread or the blanket is on crooked. This is sick. ~ Erma Bombeck

35. Becoming a mother makes you the mother of all children. From now on each wounded, abandoned, frightened child is yours. You live in the suffering mothers of every race and creed and weep with them. You long to comfort all who are desolate. ~ Charlotte Gray

36. Giving kids clothes and food is one of thing, but it’s much more important to teach them that other people besides themselves are important and that the best thing they can do with their lives is to use them in the service of other people. ~ Dolores Huerta

37. Blaming mother is just a negative way of clinging to her still. ~ Nancy Friday

38. I love people. I love my family, my children . . . but inside myself is a place where I live all alone and that’s where you renew your springs that never dry up. ~ Pearl S. Buck

39. The most important thing a father can do for his children is to love their mother. ~ Father Theodore Hesburgh

40. When, however, one reads of a witch being ducked, of a woman possessed by devils, of a wise woman selling herbs, or even a very remarkable man who had a mother, then I think we are on the track of a lost novelist, a suppressed poet. . . indeed, I would venture to guess that Anon, who wrote so many poems without signing them, was often a woman. ~ Virginia Woolf

41. A mother’s love for her child is like nothing else in the world. It knows no law, no pity, it dares all things and crushes down remorselessly all that stands in its path. ~ Agatha Christie

42. You do not really understand something unless you can explain it to your grandmother. ~ Albert Einstein

43. If there were no schools to take the children away from home part of the time, the insane asylum would be filled with mothers. ~ Edgar Watson Howe

44. What the mother sings to the cradle goes all the way down to the coffin. ~ Henry Ward Beecher

45. My mother had a great deal of trouble with me, but I think she enjoyed it. ~ Mark Twain

46. Over the years I have learned that motherhood is much like an austere religious order, the joining of which obligates one to relinquish all claims to personal possessions. ~ Nancy Stahl

47. There never was a child so lovely but his mother was glad to get him asleep ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

48. At work, you think of the children you have left at home. At home, you think of the work you’ve left unfinished. Such a struggle is unleashed within yourself. Your heart is rent. ~ Golda Meir

49. A mother is she who can take the place of all others but whose place no one else can take. ~ Cardinal Mermilod

50. A mother’s yearning feels the presence of the cherished child even in the degraded man. ~ George Eliot

51. There are lots of things that you can brush under the carpet about yourself until you’re faced with somebody whose needs won’t be put off. ~ Angela Carter

52. Isidor Isaac Rabi’s mother used to ask him, upon his return from school each day, “Did you ask any good questions today, Isaac?” ~ Steve Chandler

53. Sometimes the poorest woman leaves her children the richest inheritance. ~ Ruth E. Renkel

54. Mother love is the fuel that enables a normal human being to do the impossible. ~ Marion C. Garretty

55. A mother is never cocky or proud, because she knows the school principal may call at any minute to report that her child has just driven a motorcycle through the gymnasium. ~ Mary Kay Blakeley

56. It would seem that something which means poverty, disorder and violence every single day should be avoided entirely, but the desire to beget children is a natural urge. ~ Phyllis Diller

57. Parents often talk about the younger generation as if they didn’t have anything to do with it. ~ Haim Ginott

58. If you want your children to turn out well, spend twice as much time with them, and half as much money. ~ Abigail Van Buren

59. Making a decision to have a child–it’s momentous. It is to decide forever to have your heart go walking around outside your body. ~ Elizabeth Stone

60. If you want your child to be brilliant, tell them fairy tales. If you want your child to be very brilliant, tell them even more fairy tales. ~ Albert Einstein

P.S.  What’s that she’s saying?  She needs to FIND HERSELF?  “Find herself” my Aunt Fanny.  Grow a pair, and be a parent to your child.  He’ll have pals his own age.  YOU can “find yourself” after your job is done.

P.P.S.  Does anybody else love it when, out in public, a child says “Mama?” and forty women instinctively turn their heads?

 

Standardized Testing and Butter

Mamacita says:  I want to talk to you all about standardized testing and butter, and then I want you to tell me which is more important.

I ran into a former middle school student in a store yesterday. I recognized him right away, in spite of the beard, the wife, and the three little kids, but for the first time, I couldn’t remember a student’s name. This concerns me.

My mind’s eye could see him with the years stripped away, and I could remember where he sat and who sat on either side of him. I could remember things he did and said in class, and I could remember his handwriting and where he liked to sit in the cafeteria. I couldn’t, however, remember his name.

He said to me, “I bet you don’t remember me!” And I replied, “Of COURSE I remember you.” Because I did, even if his name was gone from my brain.

He said to me, “I will always remember that one thing we did in your class.”

I replied, “And which thing is that?”

“Remember when you read that olden-days book to us and they were always eating and making stuff from scratch, and you taught us how to make stuff? What I remember most was the butter. My kids and I love to make butter, just like you showed us in 8th grade.”

The book was Laura Ingalls Wilder’s Farmer Boy. It was perfect for a low-ability class of 37 14-to-17 year old students, all boys, who hated reading and honestly couldn’t see any connection between something in a book and the outdoors/ hunting/farming/mechanic/taxidermy/4H/cattle-raising lives most of them were already considered experts in.

It was English class, but we cooked, and we whittled (GASP, how politically INCORRECT!) and we made sourdough starter and later we made bread with it, and we made pies and jerky and boiled candy (it’s just fudge or taffy) and jam. And about once a week, we made butter to go with our bread. I had a glass churn, but that was too complicated so we poured the cream into a big Tupperware thing and passed it all around the class and the boys shook it while listening to me read. I would read until the butter ‘came,’ and then the boys sprang into action. They poured off the buttermilk and squeezed the butter until it stopped weeping. They sprinkled just a little salt into the butter and kneaded it in. Then they all washed their hands and whoever’s turn it was that day sliced the bread and they all put napkins in their shirt collars and tucked in. We used KNIVES to slice the bread and to spread the butter. Heavens to BETSY.

I know that many of them were enthusiastic about this book because of the food, and they loved the food because all teenage boys love food, and also because these particular teenage boys were seriously hungry.

I loved those Laura Ingalls Wilder units. Other teachers criticized them because watching sourdough rise, and making butter, weren’t proper English lessons.

I maintained, and I still maintain, that anything we as teachers or parents do that makes learning come alive is a proper English lesson. Science lesson. History lesson. Math lesson. Life lesson.

I was sad when the principal forbade me to do this kind of thing any more. There really wasn’t time, anyway, what with all the ISTEP prep the boys needed to do. That was more important in the long run, right?

I ran into a grown man in a store yesterday who remembered those lessons and did them with his own children.

I’m sure he remembers and does the lessons required for ISTEP, too.

But I know for a fact that he remembers the butter.

Easter 2018: Rejoice.

One of two carved limestone Easter Island heads at the entrance to Thornton Park in Bedford, Indiana

Mamacita says: Happy Easter, everyone.

What? Oh, oops. . . . .

Vintage Easter card

Here. This is more like it. I do love those vintage Easter postcards. I hated growing up and finding out that those baby kittens were probably going to eat those baby chicks. I would also hate to have to tell you all how old I was before I realized that the bunnies weren’t really responsible for all those eggs.

THIS is Easter.

But ultimately, this is Easter to me.

And isn’t it wonderful that so many of us, with so many different beliefs, can hang out here in the Blogosphere and get along great and love each other without having to constantly proselytize and try to sway each other to our own beliefs?

Even after the election. . .   Well, in spite of all that, we’re still all pretty nice.  Those who aren’t, well, who wants to sit by them?  “Those” people aren’t what the rest of us are all about.

Oh, sure, those people are online too, but I don’t pay much attention to them.  You shouldn’t, either.  Let them rant.. .

It’s the people whose beliefs are quietly lived every day, the people who show me by example what their values are, who get my attention.

And who says God doesn’t have a sense of humor? If you don’t believe me, just look around for a minute or two. Think of your family.

And if you’re alone, look in the mirror.

See?

Happy Easter, dear internet people. Eat chocolate. Smile. Have some eggs. Rejoice over something.

It’s a good day for rejoicing. . . .