Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Confessions of Grumpy Homeschool Mamma

We say a prayer before we start school every morning. Allika thanks God for the day and the nice time that she hasn't had yet, nor is going to have. It's kind of a practice in futility, except I suppose she's learning the discipline of starting her work with prayer.

So, then I pray. I ask God to help me have a good attitude and to help Allika to do her best and work really hard and learn a lot. Another practice in futility. Sigh.

The other day, she told her grandma that she didn't like me teaching her because I always get angry with her every time she makes a mistake. She always makes me look like a saint when it matters most. (There was also the time when she told grandma that I took her money from her, placing her at the poverty level, so could grandma please send her .47 cents.)

Anyway, I could explain here that her idea of anger is my idea of strict enforcement. I could also tell you that she does not have a competitive bone in her body, which is good in some senses, but not when she does not grasp the reason why she should try her hardest at something. Furthermore, I could explain that she gets distracted very easily (huge understatement), which presents a challenge when she is supposed to be writing the word "weed," but, instead, finds the speck of Crystal Lite powder on the table much more fascinating.

Here is an example of a typical conversation during a school session:

Me: Allika, where is the one's place? (This is after Van has extensively gone over this concept with her the previous day.)

Allika: I don't know.

Me: Remember that it is all the way over to the right of a number?

Allika: (Absent-mindedly) Oh.

Me: So where is the one's place?

Allika: All the way over to the right.

Me: (Getting really excited that she finally got it) Good! So which number is in the one's place?

Allika: (Looking at the number 112) The one.

Me: No Allika, which number is all the way over to the right?

Allika: The two.

Me: (Excitedly again) Right! So, which number is in the one's place?

Allika: The one.

Me: (Starting to get somewhat exasperated) No! What is the one's place?

Allika: I forgot.

Me: The number all the way to the right.

Allika: Oh.

Me: So which number is all the way over to the right?

Allika: The two.

Me: So which number is in the one's place?

Allika: The one.

Me: No, Allika. It's the two. (I know my mother would roll over in her grave if she were dead. She is a firm believer in never giving the answer.)

So we go through a similar process with the ten's and hundred's place. Then, I ask her to write the number one-hundred-and-one. She writes it out like this: 1001. I am beyond frustrated at this point.

In the middle of all this, she is spacing out and getting side-tracked by all manner of things that tickle her the light switch.

This leads me to what happened a few days ago. We had said our standard prayer before beginning our school day. Allika had thanked God for the great fun she was having and I had asked for patience and a good attitude.

Things began to rapidly deteriorate as I tried to get her to focus on her work, pay attention, do her best, and have a good attitude. (It's somewhat ironic to me when I yell, "You need to have a good attitude, Allika!!!")

In the middle of this loss of control I was displaying, Allika looked up at me and said, "I guess God didn't answer your prayer, Mom."


"Because you asked him for a good attitude and he didn't give it to you."


"Allika, he did answer my prayer because I don't have a bad attitude. I'm just trying to be strict with you because you need to do your best and pay attention and work hard and have a good attitude."


Well, I've been thinking a lot about that. A lot. A great amount of a lot.

I realized that so many times I have asked God for something and waited for him to make it happen. I forget that sometimes I am the answer to my own prayer. Is God going to sprinkle me with a good attitude just because I ask him? Is God going to send money from heaven to my friend because I prayed that he would help them through these difficult financial times? Is God going to make my marriage better because I've asked him to show my husband the areas he needs to change?


But just as likely, I will have to make choices to control my behavior when I feel like letting all my emotions hang out.

It's possible that I am the one who God will use to bless my friend in a monetary way.

It could be that God wants me to change my faults, fix my attitude, and love my husband unconditionally through all his weaknesses and imperfections in order to enjoy my marriage.

James 2:14-17 says, "What good is it, my brothers, if a man claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save him? Suppose a brother or sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to him, 'Go, I wish you well; keep warm and well fed,' but does nothing about his physical needs, what good is it? In the same way, faith by itself if it is not accompanied by action, is dead."

Last night, I asked my daughter what she would change about our family if she could change one thing.

She said it would be me getting grumpy all the time during school.I told her that she was right, and that was going to change immediately.

Today, I let go of all my exasperation and frustration and corrected her kindly. I made a deliberate choice to only respond softly and gently and to walk away for a while if I thought I would lose it.

Her performance went up by 100%.

She said, "This is the specialist day in a long time."

"Why?" I asked.

"Because you're not being so grumpy anymore."

It looks like God answered my prayer after all.


  1. Dearest Tanager;

    You are taking things too personally. Its not that Alikka
    doesn't want to do well. She has
    two things going against her. 1.)
    She is very easily are all little children. This should show to you that she has wonderment and curiosity...This is
    Great! 2.) It seems that it is very hard to grasp new concepts. Too some degree we all have that

    I think that you have corrected things in your attitude that are now
    paying off with big dividends. Glad
    that you could see the problem.

    I guarantee that as time goes by, her inabilities will correct themselves, to some degree. Keep on
    being an answer to your prayers.

    If you have the ability to help your
    neighbor from your surplus...go for
    it. You need to also understand that
    you must not sacrifice the well-being of you family, however, in
    helping someone else.

    Hope this doesn't offend you. If it
    does, you can tell everyone some
    story of something really dumb that
    I did when you were growing
    that fair?


  2. Dad, you're so silly. It doesn't offend me at all. Thanks for the advice. I guess that's your right as my father, isn't it? Love you.

  3. This may or may not help with the whole "ones place" thing... When I was working on that concept with my children we would call it the "units place" because having the 1 in the tens and hundreds places could be confusing. Just a thought. Steph

  4. Tanager, what's the name of that game!!!???? Thanks, Danielle

  5. Thanks, Jenny. That does help Steph.

    What game are you talking about, Danielle? "What if...then"?

  6. Oh! Do you mean "Bethumped With Words"?

  7. YESS!!!! Thank you so much! ! !

  8. Oh this sounds so familiar. It is funny how it takes a child's perspective for us to see ourselves. I sometimes catch myself yelling at one of my kids because they are not practicing self control. Or telling them that they cannot give up and throw a fit when things are tough. And then suddenly remember the times that I lost my temper in front of them because something didn't go right.

  9. Thanks for commenting, Bridgett. It's so good to know I'm not the only crazy mom out there. =)

  10. Tani,
    This is exactly how teaching Ariana is!!! She is just not interested most of the time; playing with her dollies is so much better in her opinion! Thank you for the reminder that just praying for a good attitude is not enough: we must choose to have a good attitude and choose patience.

  11. This was a great post! I can totally relate to the distracted child, the frustrated mother situation! This really hits home for me because I've been thinking a lot about how our heart affects the words that come out of our mouths. This is what our Bible class was about today and I was so challenged. There are so many times I do bite my tongue and keep back the frustration and anger with one child or another, but then my true heart's feelings manage to creep out (or explode). I'm realizing how much better to really seek God's help in changing my heart rather than always struggling with my tongue! I'm also starting a journal to keep track of how many days I can go without losing my temper, and when I do, I'm accountable to someone about the incident. And I'm collecting verses about anger. Hoping this will help me in all aspects. You're totally not alone.

  12. Thank you so much, Christy, for sharing that. It really is very helpful and so true about it coming from our hearts. We have to change our thinking before we can change our behavior. Thanks again!

  13. Thanks for your comment, too, June. It helps a lot to have the support of other moms who experience the same thing.