A Magic Bean for Parenting

Can I just tell you what my eldest said during homeschool reading time this week?

We start our morning sitting around the living room reading.  Great learning moment.  Can you picture the kiddos lounging around curled up in fleece blankets coloring as they listen.  Well that happens sometimes.  Also there are mornings when I have two fighting over the same coloring book, another making such loud airplane noises I can’t hear myself think (and I am supposed to be reading) and the fourth is curled up in the fleece blanket with his back turned away from me.

Yesterday was one such morning.

I was trying to get us all back on track as I asked a question from our science reading to my son who seemed so disengaged.  “So what can you tell me about the part of our brain called the medulla?”

Without missing a beat he rolled over and with a grin replied, “I just learned that the medulla is responsible for all my involuntary reactions….like when I want to hit my sisters.”

I couldn’t help but burst out laughing.

Learning moment became even better as it evolved into a teachable moment.  Wouldn’t it be great if the medulla in addition to controlling our breathing and blinking would control our attitudes and how we treat others?


More than anything I want my children to learn to bring Glory to our Father by being responsible people who love and serve others.  I don’t know about you all, but I spend so much of my time and energy as a mom, striving toward that goal.  It is a maddening goal….one that I wish I could control, but know that I can’t.  You pour in hoping that it will stick, but realizing that ultimately it is up to these little people to make their own choices.  Scary.

I wish there was some list that included a silver bullet that would make our job as parents easier.  You know….10 ways to ensure your kids will become kind and responsible adults.  I have read blogs by those titles.  Yes, I do click on them….even though I know it is a bunch of whoeey.  (I made that word up.  like it?)

Let me tell you another story that stars my smarty pants eldest son.

We get two suitcases each as we travel from the States back to our home in Asia.  You can imagine the conversations we have as we decide what to include.  (With homeschool supplies I must admit the left over weight and space is minimal.)   As we unpacked our treasures at the end of our summer excursion to the States my son proudly handed me an early birthday present.  He bought me a waffle iron and put it in his carry on.  He was so excited to have such a special gift for me; he couldn’t wait until October.  “Mom,” he explained, “You don’t bring much for yourself, always packing things for our schooling, I wanted to bring something fun for you.”  As I held that waffle iron in my hands and realized how many books my reader must have taken out of his suitcase to make space for this gift….I was overwhelmed.

We now make waffles for breakfast every Monday morning.  As I pull that iron out and as we eat, I am reminded that kindness and selflessness are rooted in the heart of my pre-teen son.

There are some mornings that parenting is ‘pull your hair out’ hard.  But I am learning not to look for a magic bean that will make it easier, but to stay the course and keep reminders in front of me that progress is being made.  If I focus on the moments where I need to talk over the fighting,  if I keep count of the times I say, “We are kind and respectful to each other,” if I despair on the mornings that attitudes are bad and my goal seems so far off….then I know myself, I would quit.

Instead I am making a list of the moments that I see G0d forming the hearts of my children.  I am keeping that list in front of me as a marker of how far we have come and where we are going.






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