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Friday, March 16, 2012

Everything I know I learned from homeschooling Mass.

     Not that anyone asked, but I am still alive.  And yes, overdue on a post. The good new is that in waiting this long to post, I can officially say that I am below 30 days in my baby ticker - WHOOT!
      I wished I could say that waiting the extra time allowed me to come up with a genius post that everyone would find incredibly entertaining - so much so that they would beg me to take all of my wisdom and put it in book form.
     Sadly, the only reason I'm late is:
          a) I'm pregnant.
          b) I'm old.
          c) I was actually fighting off an infection that threw me into a two day bed rest.
          d)  I'm old and pregnant - but really number three wins the prize.
     So now that I am recovered, we were able to make it to our bi-monthly homeschooling Mass.  This usually is comprised of ten families, of course all these families have at least six kids average, so we are talking about sixty kids + parents, so about seventy five people. 
     Today however, for various reasons, there was only six families.  So, I slid behind a certain family.  Let's call them "perfect family."  My hope is always to stress to The Boy and The Baby Boy how well behaved their children are. Unfortunately, it usually ends up that my children are the entertainment for those who peak behind their shoulders to gawk at the sideshow, staring my children.  SIDENOTE: The Bookworm wants to let everyone that she and her sisters were not sitting in the pew at this point.  They were in the "quiet choir" that volunteers to sing for Mass, singing songs that are to high to hit for tired homeschooling Moms.  And, since I'm partially deaf, I can't pick up half the words anyways. (By the way, did you know that if you mouth the word "avocado" while everyone else is singing, it totally looks like you know what your doing?!)
     I don't know whether it was because I was still tired from recuperation, or if it was because I am old and pregnant, but it was not a pleasant experience today.  The Baby Boy took a total advantage of my exhaustion and played "keep-a-way" in the pew, pushing me to the point of just ignoring him, after all, why put the effort into that? SIDENOTE: The Baby Boy received his first after-Mass discipline at home today.  There is truth to this "It hurts me more than it hurts you." BUT, now that it has happened, I can easily refer to this to snap him into attention.
     I was so relieved to know that I was not the only family who was having their own struggles during Mass.  But knowing that others were, as I heard about afterwards, got me to thinking about some important lessons that we learn in Mass.
     1)  Patience.  Isn't it true every time you pray for patience, God sends you a three year old?
     2)  Sign Language: This is often included with a snap of the fingers and is highlighted with the pointing with the index finger to the spot beside you.
     3)  Counting.  You'd be amazed how many children can count to five, a skill they have learned from the countdown, repeated over and over by the tired mother.
     4)  How to give "The Look." This is an important life skill, although it seems quiet hilarious when it has been give by a three year old who is imitating mom, and makes you question "Do I really look like that?"
     5)  Playing with small rocks found in your shoe can be entertaining for a three year old.  Especially after following the snap point gesture that tells them they had better sit still.
     6)  Appreciation for priests who give short homilies........God bless them, everyone.
     On that last note, The Jane Austen Wanna-be, the Bookworm, and myself tonight did a Daily Sparks writing exercise to pass the time. (we gave up T.V. for Lent, and this was one alternative we found.) The assignment was to write from the perspective of a substitute teacher, written in first person.  We decided that it would be interesting to write a take-off of our Mass from the point of view of the visiting priest that so graciously said Mass for us today. Enjoy what follows, but remember it is loosely based, and actually, it was much worse than this!
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I just received the news that I am to stand in as the substitute for the group of homeschoolers that meets once a month for religious education.  I do not know a lot about homeschooling, and in my 77 years, I have not had any encounters with this type of student.  If I go according to secular views, I am to expect mumbling wallflowers that are constantly repeating to themselves the Pythagorean theorem or the full 550 numbers of pi in the correct order, or they will be intellectual types with thick nerd glasses, high water pants, pocket calculators and the one with the finger occasional slipping up to his/her nose.    But maybe this group will be different – the usual instructor only has had words of praise for them. 
                Wanting to make a good impression, I set about preparing a lesson that was to include 7 points.  Why 7?  In all cases of doubt, 7 is always a good answer – that, and the letter “c.”  Knowing that age range of these children fell between newborn to seventeen, I figured I had better make the lesson entertaining.  The best way to start off the class was with a joke.  So, after introducing myself, I grinned and said: “Hola, mi llamo es NO Dora!!There’s some Spanish points for you to right down!”  I was greeted with the sound of crickets.  Moving on.  It was then that I noticed that really, most of these kids looked normal.  As far as how they acted, I could already tell the teenagers were a-typical, because they obviously knew how to balance a baby, while chasing after a two year old that was wearing plastic heels.  Since this was a family class, it was easy to distinguish parents – the ones with bags under their eyes, snot on their should and tight lips that were counting “You have three seconds.  One.  Two.”  Seeing them told me that I needed to take this 7-point sermon down to about one point.  Various individual three year olds who found it entertaining to play “skooch bum” down the seats away from their haggard mothers – hence the tight lips and the counting, which was making this room seem like a math class. I gathered my strength and started to condense my points.  Then I looked up and saw that 5 minutes had passed.  I was beginning to question the other instructor’s thoughts on how this was entertaining.  Taking a deep breath, I looked up at the crucifix.  Turning back to the assembled group, I very slowly said, “Remember….Jesus loves you.”  That about summed it up, right?  Just to add an extra 60 seconds to my talk, I asked everyone to repeat the phrase. 
                As I sat back down to ponder my 7 in 1 lesson that I just gave in a total of 12 minutes, I took a second look at the group.  It suddenly hit me that I was not looking at anything typical at all.  Most of these families averaged in the family size of five children or more.  That is certainly not typical for our culture.  Mental note: pro-life.  My second observation was that I noticed that all present were dressed modestly with no shirts proclaiming derogatory messages.  The next observation was that the parents looked worn out, but behind their dark circles, you could see love for their families in their eyes.  I was beginning to see now with a clear vision why this class was different, but not in a bad way.  This time I spent here wasn’t all that bad actually, if I could just get  their three olds to sit long enough to fit in another 6 points, then maybe I will volunteer to do this again. 

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Surviving myself, at least life isn't a 24/7, 365 homeschooling Mass,
Mary

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