The Sign of the Beaver

Today marks the first day of officially having ALL of the kids home with me for good lol. We have decided to pull my step-son out of school next year and he has finished his final day in 6th grade for the year. It is bittersweet. I am delighted at the thought of him progressing like his older brother and younger sister have. He has so much potential and I am glad we are going to explore just what he is capable of. I am also grateful that between the 4 of us parents, we have decided to make this transition the way we did. Hunter came out of school first. He is the oldest and he struggled the most. He was 1/2 way through 7th grade when we began his homeschooling. Then about 4 months later we decided that Addison would be better educated at home. We intended on leaving her to finish out her Kindergarten year but her jealousy toward Hunter being home, drove her mad. She bugged me enough that I finally decided to withdraw her in March of that year. (Hunter had come out at Christmas time). Isaiah stayed in public school that year and the next year. I honestly didn’t have intentions on pulling him out. He wanted to be with his friends and he was getting OK grades. We had become accustomed to doing so much extra at home and emailing his teachers that I wasn’t all that worried, just exhausted. As the end of his 6th-grade year rounded out, we began to get frustrated with various things and his mom mentioned that maybe it was time for him to come out too. It was clearly God who made all of that happen. I was at peace (somewhat) with him being in school previously but now I just knew that it was time.  Needless to say, this provided some new obstacles to overcome pretty quickly.

The first of these obstacles is the reading for the summer. Both him and Hunter are beginning to read all of the books they are going to read during the next school year (they re-read and analyze them during the year). Now normally this wouldn’t mean much because both of them are used to having to read each day, but as I am well reminded, “I am the teacher, class day is just with the tutor who helps more me than them. So what’s so bad about that? I have to read all of these books too. There’s like 8-10 for Isaiah and 19 for Hunter. Thank goodness for 2nd & Charles. So while the house is quiet, before I get into all of my Etsy work, I am sitting here under a huge blank, reading. Children’s books. lol.

For my 9th grade stepson, I have begun a book called, “The Sign of the Beaver.” (by Elizabeth Spears). It is AWESOME! We started it yesterday and are about half way through it already. (We read it separately and then discuss it). My daughter loves to hear about it because it is similar to the Little House in the Big Woods and Little House on the Praire books we read for her during the school year. As I keep reading, my attention is shifted to some serious cultural backslides that seem to have occurred both between now and when the book took place as well as now and just a handful of years ago when the book was written, for 4,5,6th graders….

The setting of the story is during the time of settlers and Native American’s. After having read the Little House on the Praire and Big Woods books (along with prior knowledge), I was familiar with the daily workload of these pioneer people. What I wasn’t familiar with was the expectation that was placed upon the children. I knew they had chores but this book really brought to light, what those chores entailed. As a 12 almost 13-year-old boy, the main character is expected to stay in the home in the woods that he & his father just built, for 7 weeks ALONE while his father travels back to get his mother and siblings. At first, it’s shocking to me, but then I came to understand just why that seemed so wrong. I would never leave our 12-year old home that long. He couldn’t possibly take care of himself, let alone the house and the chores!  And we have electricity and all kinds of fancy gadgets! This kid had a gun and no refrigerator. Now I know that this is just a story, but these kinds of things were expected of children back then. The boy eventually runs into a Native American who helps him and in return asks him to teach his grandson to read so all the white people can’t trick them out of their land (the smell of racism, early in the morning, how awesome). What is the 12 year-olds favorite book? Robinson Crusoe.  Great story, super hard to read and a bit violent. Nevertheless, it’s a classic for a reason. So far I am thoroughly impressed with this young boy.

Let’s compare him to my step-son, who is also 12. He is a middle child and seems to slide through most things with ease. We are hard on the older one because he’s going through things first and we are easy on the younger one because quite frankly, she wears me out. Isaiah just kind of gets the best of both worlds. If anything, he certainly can benefit from the rigorous homeschool curriculum. He has only shot a gun a handful of times, he has one real chore because that’s all I can get him to own on a regular basis and he hasn’t cooked much of anything a day in his life.(That didn’t involve the microwave anyway) About a month ago, I asked him to make a sandwich and he told me, “that just isn’t his thing.” He didn’t know how and wasn’t interested in learning. Why should he be? Either I made him one when I made one for his younger sister or his older brother made them for everyone. He was sliding through. Meanwhile, back in the pioneer days, this kid was catching, killing, springing a trap for and making a fire in order to prepare his own food! Where did we start to make this change? Better yet, why did it happen?

I have heard many people say, “times were harder then,” or “they didn’t have a choice and they didn’t live as long.” It’s strange because even if they did die earlier, that didn’t change the amount of time they had been on this earth. Our expectations of them have changed. We drive ourselves crazy trying to be everywhere and do everything for them when in reality, they could honestly do it themselves! Not all that long ago, kids in their pre-teens were expected to do things around the house to make the families life easier. The mom wasn’t expected to do it all and the kids learned valuable tools that can be used for anything. I read an amazing book called, ‘Do Hard Things” with Hunter last year. It’s a pair of boys telling the world all they can do and all that other kids have done, even though they are kids. They had experienced things that were beneficial to them in the long run. They were being prepared to be functioning members of society. What a thought.

I refuse to jump on the bandwagon. I will not excuse any of my kids, let alone the other kids around me, for lazy and spoiled thoughts/actions. I will expect them to do more than society tells them they can. I will provide them with the tools to become people worth living in society and not just people taking from society. I promise to create in them a motivated and educated heart. To help them to become people who figure things out instead of just waiting for directions. I promise to give them examples of a good marriage, a respectable home, and a relationship with God. I promise to teach them how to be servants before anything else and to serve their master who has created it all. I will not let them squander away the life that God has provided for us. I CAN expect more and I WILL expect more because not so long ago, people did expect more from their kids.

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