We had a pleasant first three days of school holiday. A fun excursion up Table Mountain (I am working on a post about this!), a day of playing computer games and watching movies (not allowed on school days), a nice hike in the Helderberg, a friend’s birthday party. Then everything fell apart. The arguing, not listening, unkind speech, and even outright disobedience brought on some very real threats from their mother (me) to start school again. Then it dawned on me…while I might be able to impose my own self-discipline, my kids aren’t there yet. I love a long, relaxing morning with no where to be and nothing to do, not bothering to make breakfast or take a shower but for my kids this is too much freedom. I saw their increased anxiety without their usual boundaries and structure.
This is a strange time for all of us. We are excited for Christmas, anticipating a baby, wondering and waiting to hear if we will get the house we want. I have as much energy as this snoozing cat laying next to me and my feet swell up the moment I get up to do something.
Eva has burst through to a maddening two-year old stage where she cries about the wrong sippy cup, wanting her sister’s dinner instead of her own, and screaming for more toothpaste or more grapes or to take yet another bath for the day. She wants to go ‘potty’ but the moment I put her there she cries to get off and then refuses her diaper. Her favorite words are ‘no’ and ‘daddy’ and ‘kitty.’ None of our other children have been this attached to Gert and I get such satisfaction and amusement and delight when she calls for him instead of me early in the morning!
So back to the structure. Last night, after a day of the kids squabbling, we had a family meeting. We challenged them to come up with a plan on how to promote kindness, peace, respect, and obedience in the family again. They came up with a chart to keep track of their behavior, each one giving themselves a ‘mark’ if they are unkind, teasing, etc with a loss of game time for a total amount if points.
I wrote a loose schedule for us to follow on these long, warm, summer days of waiting. We are also studying and memorizing Colossians 3:12-17. Before we put on our Armor of God, we put on the underarmor of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. Notice I said we…I am working on this too. It’s so tempting to give into irritation because I am so big and uncomfortable and swollen and feel like I may never go into labor!
The kids know I have their math books at my fingertips and so far today is a little better then yesterday. Last night we read about St. Boniface, the missionary who brought the gospel to the German pagans who were busy sacrificing children to the god Thor, worshiped in the form of a Thunder Oak. Boniface stayed the hand on the would-be priest executioner and saving the child’s life, declared that nothing would happen if they were to cut down the tree instead of making a blood sacrifice. When his claim proved to be true, he pointed to the evergreen trees, proposing to cut one down instead, and used a small fir tree as a tool of evangelism.
“This little tree, a young child of the forest, shall be your holy tree tonight. It is the wood of peace… It is the sign of an endless life, for its leaves are ever green. See how it points upward to heaven. Let this be called the tree of the Christ-child; gather about it, not in the wild wood, but in your own homes; there it will shelter no deeds of blood, but loving gifts and rites of kindness.”
Isn’t this beautiful insight into our tradition of the Christmas tree? Now you can hang decorations and lay gifts under without assuming it’s just another pagan custom. Read the full story of Boniface here.
The freshly implemented Vacation schedule, subject to change. So far it’s working better to have devotions in the evening, which feels more ‘Christmas-y’ anyway.
The kids’ action plan. As you can see, a couple misdeeds today.
My beautiful, darling, daughter. Her days as baby of the family are numbered…
My not so darling budding 2 yr old…