Right now, there is music blaring from my neighbor's house. Not so much the music, but the beat. It has been going since 7:00 this morning. Since I don't get up until 7:30, it was not a welcome noise.
This neighbor is not someone who gets along with anyone. He does not like kids or dogs, and we all wonder why he chose to move into a neighborhood filled with both.
But I can guess what's going on. I am guessing he has gone away for a few days and his adult son is staying to watch the house for him. I remember when the son lived here, that he enjoyed loud music.
In the past, this neighbor has called the police on other neighbors when their dog barked for too long. He doesn't like noise. I'll tell you what, I don't care much for this noise myself. After listening to it for almost 8 hours now, it is really getting to me. I've knocked on the door, but with the music so loud, of course, no one came to answer.
Now it's MY turn to call the police, isn't it? Time to get that neighbor back for the way he has treated others, right?
But I'm not going to.
This son has had trouble with the police in the past. We don't talk much, but I'm pretty sure my neighbor isn't thrilled about that. So, what would it solve to involve the police in his life again?
It would get him back for always being mean, wouldn't it? Yeah!
But, like I said, I'm not going to. And that's my good deed today.
Good deeds can go unnoticed, and even be things that you DON'T do, like not calling the police when no real harm is being done, even if you can.
Sometimes what you do will be unearned. Like when you DON'T yell at customer service, even when they give you an attitude.
Sometimes the good deed that you do for a day never gets a thank you. You might even get yelled at. For example, the poor teacher who gave a a student a poor grade for not studying and decided it would be best to discuss this with the parent. Of course, the parent yells back at the teacher for having unreasonable expectations. The teacher absorbs to anger but doesn't yell back. Because somewhere down the line, a valuable lesson could be learned.
Sometimes your good deed will seem pointless. Like returning a shopping cart someone left out in the parking lot, far away from the corral. On a cold and windy day, that's one less cart the grocery store staff has to go running out after.
Sometimes, you see an easy way to get ahead, but you don't. You may have just saved an insurance company some money, making rates more affordable for those who struggle.
Sometimes, you DON'T honk your horn at the person who pulled in front of you a little too close, and you may have just saved everyone on the highway from an incident of road rage or resulting traffic accident.
What are other people giving thanks for today? Maybe it's you. Maybe their Facebook post today read something like this: "I had a really awful day. I couldn't get anything right at the register. But I am thankful for the customer who was patient with me while I figured it out."
Often you do a good deed and never see who it might benefit- or if anyone does at all. And when you do these things without even thinking about it, that's when you have earned respectable character. And that's when everyone benefits.
Which means it is about one of two things... and sorry to disappoint you, but it's about cycling.
Lately, in my rebellion against running, and my desire to keep up the metabolism, I have taken to riding my bike. It's a lot easier on my body than running, so I can stay at it longer (keeping the benefits of the run). And it just so happens that I married a man who knows a lot about cycling. (For example, those who ride the 2-wheeled machines without motors are "cyclists," not bikers.)
I call him "Coach" because he can be a different guy when he talks about riding. But I'm starting to get it. He laughs at me when I complain about motorists not following the laws.
He's been trying to teach me other things too, about how to get the most out of a ride. The outcome of your ride can depend greatly on the gear in which you ride. Until recently, I never switched gears. (Shh. Don't tell Jeremy.)
Another factor, though, that affects your ride is the weather. This one is interesting, because you have no control over it. You can only react to it. The biggest factor when riding?
When you ride your bike, your 1** lb. body is suspended on a machine that probably weighs less than one-tenth your own body weight. And the only parts of that machine that are touching the ground are on either side of you, not directly under you. There's a lot of room for the wind to play around in.
Switching gears back to gear switching. (he he!) I have noticed there are two kinds of riders. I call them the pushers and the spinners:
1. Pushers ride with a smaller gear. It requires more effort - you need to add more work to go, but you get a stronger output, and therefore, go faster. I like that. I'm a pusher.
2. Spinners use a bigger gear and let the bike do most of the work. You don't have to do much, and the bike will still go. But since the bike doesn't have the muscles you do, you don't go as fast. My husband encourages me to "spin" more, because it's a better aerobic workout. But I don't like doing work that gets me nowhere.
Now, combine what we just talked about - gears and wind. Although I try to avoid riding on windy days, one day the other week, I had no choice. I picked the LEAST windy day of the week, but still had to deal with about 11 mph wind and gusts. Pushing into the wind is hard, and there are times that it feels like the wind might push you backwards. And since it is already hard to push on a small gear, you might be tempted to switch to a bigger, easier gear to make it easier to pedal.
But, if you try to go up to an easier gear, you are more susceptible to the forces around you. The bike isn't heavy enough to fight the wind for you. The more reliance you put on your bike (in that easy gear), the more the bike will decide to go with the wind, the less control you have. You are really going to wind up being tossed in the direction the wind puts you.
Your life is the bike. The wind is the forces around you. Like it or not, it's a windy day. You have thrown yourself into the forces around you, which are other people. You have a choice. You can put yourself in an easy gear and go with the flow of the people around you, letting them decide where you should go and what your path will be, or you can fight it in a smaller gear. You can take control and go where you choose to go. It's hard. But the more you do it, the more muscle you build and the easier it will come.
We have no control over the wind or the windbags. But when we put the effort into it, we can choose what's right for us.
I don't homeschool, but I must say I hold absolutely nothing against my friends who do. (Because I know my friends are doing it the right way, and not just drifting through life on a whim.)
I decided I couldn't homeschool my kids. (And I do mean "I" here and not "we." My husband very much wanted me to homeschool. But after spending all those preschool years alone with my daughter, I knew she would learn nothing from me. After reasoning with my husband, he agreed.)
Now all three of my kids are in a public school. Suburban public schools have a lot to offer kids, and our district, especially, has phenomenal teachers. They are often more idealistic than realistic, but that is the charm of teachers fresh out of school. I was there once myself.
But one thing is getting missed, it seems. The kids' school day is being prolonged into home time as well.
Kids are given homework, but not like they were in the old days. When I was growing up in elementary school, homework was usually a worksheet and maybe copying down our spelling words.
Now, worksheets are of the devil, and homework is rarely considered an individual event. Kids are asked to complete it WITH parents. Not, parents check over the work or sign off on the end. But rather have your mom or dad do this activity too.
I'm sure I sound horrible. Why can't you just give a little time to your kids when they have been in school for 6 hours?
It's because I'm still parenting. A lot of what I do to give my kids a healthy upbringing doesn't always involve me interacting with them. And it can't all be done while they are in school. I can't do homework with 2 kids while I am making dinner and making sure that everything is together for soccer practice.
Once, a teacher asked one of my children where her priorities were, with soccer or with school. I don't like that. She concentrates on school during school time, and needs to have a physical release more than she needs a few hours of homework.
Oh, I haven't told you my theory on homework yet. This, you need to know to see where I am coming from.
When I taught, the rule of thumb was 10 minutes of homework per grade level per night.
I only gave what was necessary - to the point that I looked at each and every math problem before I assigned it to see if I thought the kids needed that strategy reinforced, and if there had been enough of those already assigned. Homework was STRICTLY for reinforcing what I had already taught, and never to introduce a new concept. Because, if I had every student learning from their parents, they would come in with 27 different ways to solve the problem. Some could have been right, but...
I never gave homework on the weekend (except long term projects). My thought was that there would be 2 groups of students- 1: those who would do the work Friday after school. Backing up to the idea of reinforcing, that would be great, but the material would lost on them by Monday. What's the point? Then there are the kids in group 2: those who would wait until Sunday night. By that point, they HAD already forgotten. Forgotten the directions, the assignment... the point.
I do know my family and my kids. And I know they aren't extraordinarily abnormal. As a matter of fact, grotesque amounts of homework seem to be plaguing my circle. Homework is keeping kids from doing sports, playing instruments, and even going to church.
I have a first grader, who loves to do homework, so getting her started on it, isn't a problem, but after an hour or so, she does get tired. (We try to get homework done before dinner, because evening are often busy with other activities.) The fourth grader does homework reluctantly, because he can't get it all done before dinner. And then there's the sixth grader. I really don't know how all her work gets done.
In our house, it's coming down to either getting homework done before bedtime or getting a shower. I'm not sure people sitting next to my kids would agree with the choice we make some days.
(And to those teachers who give all the homework at the beginning of the week, due at the end- THANK YOU! It's nice to not be rushed on the days that are rush days.)
It's hard to blame teachers. They, themselves, are getting more than their fair share of homework. Beyond correcting and evaluating the students' work, they also are required (at least in Pennsylvania) to attend 180 hours of continuing education AND attend training on Core Curriculum.
But here's the deal. I have work to do too.
And I WANT to be a good mom. But my parents were good parents, and I don't ever remember them "helping me" with my homework. Never. I don't remember ever asking.
(That's a lie. I did ask my dad one time to help with math, but he showed me to do it in a way that was different than the way the teacher had taught us. So I realized he would not be the best person to help anymore.)
As for the "buddy up with your mom or dad" homework? If that were given when I was a kid, that homework would not be done. It was hard enough to get an assignment book signed or obtain lunch money. I can't picture my mom getting home from work and hopping on one foot with me as we count by fives or helping me to come up with a journal entry after buddy reading an article with me. I would never have asked her to do it anyway. For goodness sake, I knew she worked all day!
Sometimes, I want to believe that being a good mom means making dinner while the kids are doing their homework. Maybe being a good mom is getting a child to practice or to church every time. Maybe my job is to make sure they get a shower. And then, if there is time, I want to go for a walk with them or play a game.
Our kids are kids. I want so much to let them just be kids for a little while instead of pushed toward constant escalating success.
And parents need time to be parents, too. There are other things we want to teach our kids other than what has already been taught in school. I know it will be reinforced with the next concept anyway. And we want our kids to see what we do - and how sometimes it involves things other than the kids.
It's not that I don't care about school. We talk about school at dinner and when they first get home. I review the papers that they bring home. And heck, I'm in their classrooms at every opportunity. They know me at the school. I think that says something.
So, teachers, when you need to give homework, please remember I did all of mine years ago. I did pretty well on it then, but something tells me you might not grade it the same today.
*Although I know it gives me no bonus credit, I say this so you know I'm not just ranting, I have a reason for my distress. I did teach in public school, and I have a Bachelor's and a Master's in Elementary Education. Granted, those degrees are now eleven years displaced, and I will be the first to tell you that I do not know everything about the education system. Especially today.
Passion Under Grace,