Friday, November 4, 2011

It's Always Something

Early, early this morning Dennis woke me up to tell me that he had to change his pull-up because it got really big. Hoping for at least one more hour of sleep, I tucked Dennis into the extra bed we have in our room. When it was time to get up, I went to wake Alex first by crawling into bed with him since Dennis was asleep in our room. Alex was so nice and cozy as I gently tickled him awake. First thing he asked was if I would make him some eggs for breakfast. That of course turned into almost every kid wanting fried eggs. The kids that had already eaten a bowl of cereal tried to hide their disappointment. Knowing that the way to a few of my kids' heart is through their stomach, I offered them fried eggs too.

You would have thought I made them banana cream pie, or gave them an extravagant gift by how thankful they were. "Mom, you are the best egg frier!"
Who knew fried eggs would be such a big hit?
The other day during snack time, one of the girls put on a big kettle of water for instant oatmeal packets. While most of the kids waited patiently for the hot water to finish boiling, in walks one of the girls who had just finished her schoolwork. She rips open a packet and goes over to the faucet to fill her bowl with water and then proceeds to stick it in the microwave as everyone who is patiently waiting for the kettle to finish boiling watches her in disbelief-- as if she is a princess and doesn't have to wait.

As she begins to microwave her oatmeal, I ask her why she isn't waiting for the hot water like everyone else.
Immediately she says that she didn't know that the hot water was being heated on the stove and that she hadn't really seen everyone else waiting. Obviously this was dishonest and I called her out on it. Why was it so hard for her to admit that she was impatient to the point of lying about it? I asked her to imagine everyone trying to heat their oatmeal one at a time in the two microwaves.

Sure this wasn't a huge deal, but it is times like these where you can teach big lessons and help instill values of patience and honesty. A few years ago, I probably wouldn't have said anything for fear of conflict but now I realize that these little moments make the biggest impact for building up a child's moral warehouse.
Today was one of those days where I could have potentially been called a liar by my kids. After learning about slavery and prejudice against African-Americans over the last few weeks, I tried to think of a movie they could watch that would help them understand the oppression a little better. I thought "The Color Purple" would be an okay movie with its rating of PG-13. I had kept putting off watching the movie until today when the kids got their work done by lunch. We were all set to watch it when I felt that I should look up the parental ratings online. After reading the reviews, I realized that this was not something I wanted my kids watching no matter how realistic it portrayed the life of African-Americans in the 1930s. And so I broke the news, and I was asked why I changed my mind. I told them that parents are entitled to change their minds once in a while and this was one of those times. I told them that I had watched the tv version a long time ago and didn't remember all the violence it had. I apologized for changing my mind but quickly offered a substitute movie which they all enjoyed very much!


  1. The Help is a great movie for the kids to watch. Very clean but clearly shows whatbwasngoing on back then. Funny too!

  2. Funny thing with movie violence: we read the Bible, that has genocide, rape, incest, horroristic visions... yet we censor movies. I wonder why we work like that.

  3. Christine, you could introduce them to the miniseries Roots. We have used this over the years. It is a true story of the generations of Kunta Kente'. There is some in it you might need to fast forward through, but an accurate portrayal of slavery in America.

  4. I would recommend watching the miniseries Roots.

  5. I certainly don't blame you for not letting your kids watch The Color Purple. While it certainly has an impact, I don't think it is necessary for younger children. It is also an excellent book, but again, probably not appropriate for young kids.
    I don't know of many movies, as an Australian, African American history is not my strong point. There are many points of reference with Aboriginal Australian history, for which I would recommend "Rabbit Proof Fence". That movie is shown in many classrooms here in Australia, usually to children around 12. It is not in any way overly explicit or violent, but it is fairly honest.
    Have you or any of your children read Chains by Laurie Halse Anderson? I read it to Oksana and while I did have to explain a few things, she managed quite well. (She's almost 10)

    On the oatmeal issue, I agree with your reaction, if the others were clearly waiting, however, perhaps like most young children she didn't pay attention and didn't join the dots? I'm still prone to doing that somethimes, despite my best efforts. Regardless I think you did a great job of reinforcing good behaviour (consideration of others).

  6. Try Amazing Grace! Absolutely fantastic movie. It is about the slave trade in England. Not exactly USA, but shows a lot about what whites and blacks were thinking, the fight to stop it, and some great God moments. SOOOO good! All my kids have seen it.

  7. Juat curious at why you coudn't share with them that you had read a review that deemed it inappropriate for the family..i was jumping out of my seat when you. said you were going to let the kids watch it..i thought "wow that's suprising" I have never seen the whole thing. but know it is full of all sorts of awful inappropriate stuff that is not good to watch on the screen let alone be told about until certain ages.

    My kids are super young, but they know if a G movie is on and I see or hear anything I will shut it off.My six yr old usually beats me to it yelling "inappropriate"..There was a pop up add for a diet pill and a lady was in a bikini and he sceamed "inappropriate..naked lady" I freiked thinking he got onto a site by accident...but it was just something that in out family would be considered "imodest"

  8. I don't understand what you found so offensive and wrong with one of your children using the microwave to prepare a snack.

    If thd child in question had grabbed the kettle off the stove, or jumped the line or began to whine, then i can certainly see a problem.

    However, your child saw that people were standing about, she was hungry. She saw that the microwave was free and so she used it to make her own snack.

    Frankly, it shows initiative,intelligence and creativity.

    It's not lack of patience or rudeness. She never pushed or denied anyone. She didn't cut a line or complain. She saw that she could make her snack. She did.

    It's strange that you would feel it necessary for her to stand about and "wait" when she found a way to prepare her snack.

    The others decided to stand about. They decided not to use both the microwave and the kettle.

    If everyone had been using the microwave, and she grabbed the would be the same.

    Would you get angry at that too?

    She didn't "wait" because their was a way for her to make her meal. She saw that opportunity and took it.

    The fact that your other children didn't think to use the microwave too is not her fault.

    She shouldn't be taken to task because she saw a way to have her food. That the others didn't think of the same thing. They got mad because they didn't think of it. She shouldn't be punished because your other children didn't think of the same thing.

    You overreacted.

    Perhaps she didn't see everyone waiting. Perhaps she did. That doesn't matter. Lying about it? That does matter...but i find it odd that you think you are always right.

  9. I remember watching Roots on tv in the late 1970's when I was a kid. It's long, I want to say it was on every night for a week, but really very realistic.

  10. Amazing Grace might be a good choice. I love it and it really sets up how England banished slavery and how the actual song was written. . .PG, but still very okay for the older children. . .I would say 10/12 and older. . .depending on maturity levels.

  11. @Hevel, Have you seen "The Color Purple?" Passively reading "about" something in the Bible is not the same as "seeing" and "hearing" first-hand the rape of a young woman. That's why "we work like that." There are some things no child should have to bear witness to.

    "Amazing Grace" or "Roots" a more appropriate choice.

    Oh, and I also have to say that when you have so many kids, it doesn't surprise me that you want to put in some rules about preparing meals, otherwise it would be pandemonium in the kitchen. I do hope you are not too harsh about situations like this, which are bound to arise when you have a dozen hungry kids waiting for a snack.

  12. I read this yesterday and didn't think much about the whole oatmeal incident, until I read in todays post that you got lots of negative comments.
    I just wanted to say that I think it's great that you raise your kids to be orderly and courteous. I have a feeling that most of your readers would agree. The way you handled it was great!

  13. Hi I feel that each family must have rules that work for that family. Each family is different so rules for each family are different. The parents know their own children and know what will work for their family. Good job Christine and John for setting rules. Pat

  14. I can see how people interpreted the oatmeal incident differently. As I first read it, I was ready to give this little one an award! Too many people stand around doing things the "old way" while there is a way to expedite matters. But, when you explained it in the recent post it made perfect sense.

    My mom had enormously stringent rules for the kitchen - absolutely no one was to be eating between meals! or get in the cupboard or fridge on their own. Occasionally SHE would give us snacks but we didn't help ourselves. I was this way with my older ones, and it seemed unnecessary for the way we lived. I DIDN'T make a lot of rules for the younger kids and am SO sorry I didn't. Now, they resent my telling them not to get into certain things. Numbers really makes a big difference.


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