Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Sensational Skin



Our four-year-old was getting dressed in his room. He was naked lying on his floor and did a sort of preschooler push up. He realized that he could feel the carpet against his penis and held his body for a second where he could continue to feel it. I was rifling through his closet to get his clothes and encourage him to get dressed (the kid loves to be naked). He looked up at me with surprise and said,

Z: "Mom, how can I feel the carpet on my penis when I don't have a bone there?!?!"
Me: "Well, do bones feel?"
Z: "Yes."
Me: "Remember, bones are inside your body and help you move. It holds the shape of your body. Muscles and bones work together to help you move. Your skin is for feeling touches. When you want to feel something what do you use?"
Z: "My hands."
Me: Yes, we feel with our hands, but it's our skin that feels the sensations like hot or cold, soft or rough. Your penis has skin, so you can feel with it."
Z: "Oh wow! I didn't know that!"

He did another push up and got dressed. It was a matter-of-fact learning moment for him. He loves learning about how his body works.

Thursday, October 27, 2016

Kiss and Tell



I had an interesting conversation with our 10-year-old son last night. He had a field trip yesterday and sat next to another boy on the bus (for 2 hours total), Brett (name changed). While I was doing dishes last night after his dad left for a meeting, he came and asked me a few questions. His little brother and sister were in the room.

K: Mom, can I ask you a question?
Me: Sure!
K: Brett said sex takes an hour.
Me: Really?
K: He also said that they kiss each other's private parts. He said he's had sex and he and the girl kissed each other's private parts.
Me: You know, I will talk to you about this, but your brother and sister are right there. Let's talk about it where we can have a more private conversation.

About 20 minutes later the younger two children were occupied with a game in another room.
Me: Hey buddy, we can talk about that now.
K: So, does sex take an hour?
Me: Well, I suppose it could. A man and woman's bodies take some time to be able to start responding to certain touches for sex to work the way it should. It may not take as long as an hour, but it's a process that doesn't just happen really quickly usually. It depends on the man and wife.
K: Okay. Well, what about kissing their private parts?
Me: That is something that a husband and wife decide if they like. It just depends on the couple. Some husbands and wives may like that kind of touching, but other husbands and wives might not like it. It's private and decided between husband and wife how they like to touch each other and be touched like that.
K: So, do you and dad ever kiss each other like that?
Me: I am more than happy to answer your questions about sex and help you understand it, but when it comes to the private parts of my relationship with your dad, I am going to keep that between me and your dad. I can answer your questions about sex, but I also want to keep the details of my relationship with dad special and between us. Things like how often dad and I have sex or what we like to do are private for us. Every relationship is going to be different.
K: You and dad still have sex! You are done having babies, though! (He caught the present tense of my language I guess. Also, WHAT??? We've had this conversation about the other reason for sex multiple times.......I guess this is another good reminder. Maybe it will stick this time......)
Me: Do you remember the other reason for sex?
K: Oh yeah! ( I guess he just needed a reminder) It's because it feels good.
Me: Well, yeah. It strengthens the relationship between a husband and wife.
K: That's what I meant. Mom, is kissing private parts wrong? Is it against the commandments?
Me: You know, it's not against the commandments, but it's definitely private. It's something you decide with your wife when you are married.
K: It's just gross!
Me: I know it sounds gross now. It may not sound so gross when you get older. Any other questions?
K: No.

Our oldest is moving into this stage where he doesn't always believe me or his dad over his friends. For example, this clown killer thing has had the kids talking at school A TON. Our son has been worried. We tried to reassure him, but he was insistent that the kids at school had really seen some things on the internet that gave them more credibility than me or dad. I finally asked him to pray about it and ask Heavenly Father to help him discern the truth so he could feel at peace. That helped. Having him come to me and believe me over his friends regarding sex was very comforting to me. He came to me with the attitude that I knew more than his friends because we've been talking about it so long and we've been open about it. He realizes that his friends are often misinformed. I also realize that his friends must be seeing some pornography or hearing some really inappropriate things from the adults in their lives. It is not typical for a 10-year-old boy to know about oral sex.

Soon, I will be defining this for our son as oral sex. I didn't use the term yet, but I want to make sure he understands this "kissing" for what it is. Many youth justify some of these types of behaviors because they aren't really "going all the way." We want him to understand and know things for what they are. This was his first introduction to oral sex, so I didn't define it for him yet. I took the conversation where he needed to take it. We'll follow up soon and see if he has any more questions. Whew! What is middle school going to be like next year??????

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Confessions of A Public School Parent


Six Reasons My Husband and I Choose to Put our Children in Public School

6. Exceptional Examples

In the school system, there are a lot of children who often make poor choices and/or have poor behavior. Then, there are children who regularly make good choice and have good behavior, but make poor choices regularly as well. Last, there are children who rarely exhibit poor behavior and make good choices often. Our children are not perfect. However, they generally have good behavior and make good choices, especially when they are at school.

As representatives of Jesus Christ, we encourage our children to make choices that reflect our beliefs. Our oldest son had a peer in 3rd grade who was often in trouble with his teacher. He was also not very nice to other children. My husband and I talked with our son and decided that maybe the boy was jealous he didn't have any friends and didn't know how to appropriately make friends. Our son befriended the boy. Over the course of the year, the little boy's behavior in class improved, as did his interactions with his peers. He did not become an incredibly great child in class. He still misbehaved and taught our son a few things we had to discuss. But, ultimately, we felt like our son had been a good example for this boy. Our son was also able to see the effect of his example on a peer.

I want my children to understand what it's like to be a good example for others and recognize bad examples. We talk about it at home and church, but I feel our children's experience with example is most noticeable in the school system. They can be an example to their siblings, but our children mostly get along and see only a limited number of behaviors that their siblings may emulate (whether good or bad). They also interact with many children at church who are all making an effort to exhibit similar examples. In the school system, my children have been able to see a wider variety of bad examples and choose not to follow those. They have seen a wider variety of good examples and learn from those. They also have been able to be a good example and see how they can affect those around them for good. The examples they set for their peers are also different every year as they have learned and grown. In the public school system our children see how a variety of people are examples, whether good or bad, in a variety of circumstances. We want our children to understand how they can learn from those around them and influence those around them. We feel this experience is more salient for our children when they are surrounded by a wider variety of ideas, a wider range of people from different backgrounds, thus a wider variety of examples to provide our children with a practical understanding of how to interact with and learn from others.

5. Balancing Boredom

I have never been in a job in my life where I have been entertained or busy the ENTIRE job, including meetings. I have been incredibly bored at times in my life. When I worked at Subway as a youth, there were slow times with no customers and an already spotless kitchen, serving area, and dining area. I am a busybody, too. I have to be working. I don't know how many times I scrubbed the floor at Keva Juice when I worked as a night manager there because I was bored. Meetings, though necessary, can be incredibly boring at times. Some classes in college were boring................very boring...........to the point where I celebrated when I was able to stay awake the entire class period. There are even times when............gasp..............I'm bored at HOME! Certainly there are things to be done, but I'm bored of cleaning and laundry and cooking and teaching............

We want our children to learn how to be effectively motivated by boredom. Some children may get in trouble more often if they are bored, but I don't find that to be the case very often. Our children have rarely been in trouble at school, but often have times they tell me they were bored. I've also seen children in classrooms (I volunteer a lot in my children's classrooms) where the teacher has something for the children to do that is important learning work, but the children are off misbehaving. They weren't bored, just misbehaving because that's the choice they were making at that time. We want our children to realize when they are bored and be able to refocus if they are in an important learning time. We also want them to be able to figure out how to effectively use their time. If they get all their work done at school, they are able to read or find something to do to keep themselves occupied. They are much less likely to get bored at home because they are more free to move from one activity to the next when they feel done with something, thus giving them significantly fewer opportunities to figure out how to deal with boredom effectively. This entire summer I only remember our children twice saying they were bored.  

When our children get a job, we want them to be able to be self-motivated to find things to do if they find themselves getting bored. We feel that at home, it's harder for them to be self-motivated. At school, they can't always ask the teacher what they can do when they're bored. They have to figure it out for themselves! They learn to think ahead by bringing a book from home or look around at school for something effective to do, like getting ahead on homework. 

4. Incalculable Intelligence

My husband and I, like most parents, want the best for our children. We want them to be smart and successful. I do feel like our children would progress more quickly through the subjects they are learning if we home schooled them. But, intelligence, or IQ, is not the greatest predictor of success. Check out this 6 minute video from Angela Lee Duckworth - Ted Talks on "Grit." One of the greatest predictors of success in life is "grit." This is perseverance, passion, stamina, and so forth. Our children may progress more quickly at home in their intellectual understanding of subjects, but I don't know that it's the place our children are learning the most "grit." 

Our oldest son is a natural at perseverance. He does what it takes, how long it takes, to reach his goals. He doesn't quit when things get hard. He tries harder. Math especially does not come easy for him, but he works hard until he understands. At school, he has to use more perseverance as he learns math because it's not one-on-one. He struggles with math in a group setting. When I teach him at home and help him with his homework, he catches on more quickly. Of course we want our children to grasp difficult concepts more easily and have one-on-one time, but we also feel that they need to be able to learn how to work hard and persevere when things are more difficult. 

Our daughter is more easygoing. She doesn't quit easily either, but can sure learn more about perseverance. School work comes more easily to her. At home, with the student-teacher ratio of 3:1, our children wouldn't have to wait so long for help or try to figure as many things out for themselves. When I teach them at home, I try my best to let them do things on their own. But, if they came across a problem that is difficult to solve, they are more likely to come to me more quickly than their teacher at school, who has 18+ students to help. They learn to try harder on their own at school before they ask for help. When they really can't do it, they ask their teacher or bring it home for me to help them. 

I don't feel like our children are geniuses or better than average in their intelligence. But, I do know that our kids have a greater likelihood of success in life as they learn to persevere. Our children are learning to persevere in greater degree in the course of a regular day at school than they would at home. We feel that if we believed our children were too smart for school and we wanted to focus only on their educational intellectual-IQ type growth, we would be depriving them of other types of intelligence, like social intelligence and other behaviors exhibited by resilient children. We feel our children's success is measured not only by IQ, but also by social and interpersonal skills, and other valuable characteristic traits like perseverance. It's much more difficult for our children to develop some of these traits at home because neither my husband, nor myself, excel at everything and can only be an example for a limited range of characteristic traits. 

3. Empowering Exposure

Our children live in a society rich in inappropriate things. Some children are very disrespectful at school. Some talk about things that are inappropriate in a school setting. Some use inappropriate language. Belonging to a church (Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints) with a unique perspective on appropriate and inappropriate adds extra challenges. Our children often hear language that is okay with many families, but not with ours. They hear discussions about sex or other topics we believe are appropriate in a family setting, but not in a public setting. They see children being incredibly unkind to other children. They hear endless talk about things we believe are a waste of time, but are fine with other families (e.g. video games for hours and such). They hear students talking back to adults. There are a lot of inappropriate things that happen at school.

I don't like it. But, I believe it's also been beneficial for our children to see the world as it is. We have been commanded to be in the world, but not of the world. We want our children to be able to know how to navigate the world around them and decipher which roads and voices to follow, or how to lead. Now, if the environment they are in is too pervasively negative that they aren't able to function, we would certainly pull them from that environment. But, some negativity and inappropriateness are opportunities for our children to develop positive qualities. Heavenly Father even tells us that he allows bad/hard things to happen to us for our growth and learning. We certainly don't want to put our children in situations where bad or inappropriate things can possibly happen, but we know as we're prayerful about the decisions we make in behalf of our children Heavenly Father will help us. Heavenly Father allowed Satan to do some awful things to Job. These trials made Job stronger. Last year, our oldest son had a very rough environment in his school class. It was hard for us to allow him to suffer through the year, but we felt he needed to stay where he was. During the course of the year, a friend in his class did something inappropriate. Our son stood up for the right and told the teacher. He lost a friend for a time, but he also learned something important about himself. He learned that he could do the right, even when it wasn't popular, and the consequence was feelings of confidence and joy. He also learned what a true friend was. (If you're interested in reading the whole story about this event with our son click here.)   

Even if our children are exposed to some pretty terrible stuff at school, we feel like the things they have gained from these experiences have made their spirits stronger. As I watch our oldest son begin his 5th grade year, I can see a change in him from things he learned last year. He's already being proactive in his search for appropriate friends. He also recognizes when he should help someone in need that is being mistreated by another student. Our daughter has gained confidence as she has helped those that needed an extra hand. With all the inappropriate exposure our children experience at school, they are also exposed to the true nature of who they are and what they are trying to become. 

2. Discover Diversity

My husband and I try hard to be open and loving to those around us. We befriend our neighbors and truly enjoy our neighborhood and community. However, even though we try hard to be involved with a variety of individuals, our circle still seems to lack some diversity. We have a few friends that believe differently from us and even fewer friends of various races. In essence, we are surrounded by like-minded people. We don't believe this is bad. We like to surround ourselves with people who enjoy the same things we do. But, we feel that our children also need to experience more diversity: of religion, race, language, ethnicity, thought, political views, socioeconomic status, teaching style, personalities, and so forth. The circle of people we surround ourselves with provides only minor opportunities for our children to interact with people in varying circumstances. Chances are, they will have to interact with a wider variety of individuals as they go to college, serve missions, and begin a career. It will be much easier for them to integrate into diverse situations if they have experience interacting with a variety of individuals.

It makes me think of Christopher Columbus. He was surrounded by a group of like-minded individuals. They all thought the world was flat and he was crazy. No one would fund his quest for a long time. If our children believe the world is flat and are surrounded by people who think the world is flat, they are missing something! Our son had a black teacher for first grade. He'd hardly had any interaction with blacks until that moment in his life and was quite afraid of her for a short while. She turned into one of his favorite teachers. Our daughter just had the same teacher without any of his initial fear because our circle was widened and she saw her brother's experience. As our children encounter different ideas at school, they bring them home and discuss them with us. We're able to regularly talk about respecting other's ideas and beliefs. We are also able to discuss what we believe and how what they learn fits into the circle of their widening world. Our children also have to learn about different teaching styles and how to learn in a variety of ways. They also learn how to interact with a variety of personalities as they are placed in groups for group work. Our daughter had to learn how to work in a group with a child that misbehaved. Our son had to learn how to work in a group with a child that didn't want to do work. These kinds of things will happen in the workforce as our children grow and get jobs, or they may have these experiences in college. These experiences in grade school will give our children experience to know how to handle these types of situations. We believe our children need this diversity and we just don't have ample opportunities within our regular circle to provide that for them. 

1. Spiritual Sense

This is the NUMBER 1 and MOST IMPORTANT reason my husband and I have chosen to put our children in the school system. Every year, we pray about what is right for our children. Should they stay in the public school system, or should we home school them? Every year we have felt that they need to be in public school. This year was very hard because our son had such a rough year last year with the students in his class. It was a great balance for him to have such a fantastic teacher. Our daughter had an incredible year last year, but we also feel she could progress more quickly at home. We decided we would pray about it for weeks and see how we felt at back-to-school night. As we went to the school with the children, everything felt right. Our daughter's classroom was happy, bright, and her teacher oozed with enthusiasm and love. She has the same teacher our son did in second grade and this teacher has been his favorite since (although he's had some great teachers). Our hearts felt light and right. When we went to the 5th grade hall I wasn't nervous (as I thought I'd be). His teacher seemed okay, nothing awfully special. But, as we left the school I felt light and happy. This is where he's supposed to be as well. All the praying and fasting that there would be appropriate boys in his class this year are going to be answered. 

I hear so many reasons for why parents home school their children. I rarely hear why other parents choose to put their children in public school. But, it is a choice. For us, it's an important choice that we don't take lightly. I'm sad to see my children leave me for hours every day when summer ends. But, I feel like they are also gaining the experiences they need for their own growth and development. Our daughter has had opportunities she wouldn't have at home, like helping a peer with their morning work. She also has a minor level of anxiety in large groups. Being in school gave her the opportunity to be in a large group in a classroom without the craziness of unexpected movements and noise. This has helped her learn to manage some of her anxiety. She's less fearful of groups and no longer hides in a quiet corner if she's at a birthday party with kids running all over. She still doesn't like the noise and craziness, but she is also not afraid of it anymore. Our son has been able to learn to speak up. He was incredibly shy as a young child and refused to talk to anyone other than family or close friends, until his kindergarten teacher helped him learn how to speak up with unfamiliar people. That was something we could not do because he was always surrounded by people we knew. We couldn't force him to talk to the checker at the grocery store to just say, "hi." But, his kindergarten teacher's gentle encouragement helped him start trusting his voice. 

There are certainly great reasons to home school, but there are drawbacks as well. There are great reasons to put children in the public school system, but there are also drawbacks. There is no perfect system for educating our children in a well rounded way. I am very grateful for the wonderful teachers my children have had in their schooling. I may still home school at some point if it ever feels right. But for now, I have a confession...............I am a public school parent!

Note: I hope you realize that these are very personal for me and my husband and our children. Every parent needs to decide what is best for their child and some children may have different needs than our children. 

Monday, August 22, 2016

Confessions of a Public School Parent


I have a great many friends who home school their children. In fact, most of my friends have home schooled their children in the last few years. My friends have given me an assorted variety of reasons for homeschooling, but there are a few common threads. I listen to these reasons and fully understand (even desire to home school my children for some of these same reasons). However, this post is to explain my reasons for putting my children in the public school system. There is so much on the internet about homeschooling and why people do it....I wanted a voice for those of us that choose the public school system. My husband and I have 6 basic reasons our children are in public school. 

Why My Children are in Public School: Reason Number 1

Spiritual 

This is the NUMBER 1 and MOST IMPORTANT reason my husband and I have chosen to put our children in the school system. Every year, we pray about what is right for our children. Should they stay in the public school system, or should we home school them? Every year we have felt that they need to be in public school. This year was very hard because our son had such a rough year last year with the students in his class. It was a great balance for him to have such a fantastic teacher. Our daughter had an incredible year last year, but we also feel she could progress more quickly at home. We decided we would pray about it for weeks and see how we felt at back-to-school night. As we went to the school with the children, everything felt right. Our daughter's classroom was happy, bright, and her teacher oozed with enthusiasm and love. She has the same teacher our son did in second grade and this teacher has been his favorite since (although he's had some great teachers). Our hearts felt light and right. When we went to the 5th grade hall I wasn't nervous (as I thought I'd be). His teacher seemed okay, nothing awfully special. But, as we left the school I felt light and happy. This is where he's supposed to be as well. All the praying and fasting that there would be appropriate boys in his class this year are going to be answered. 

I hear so many reasons for why parents homeschool their children. I rarely hear why other parents choose to put their children in public school. But, it is a choice. For us, it's an important choice that we don't take lightly. I'm sad to see my children leave me for hours every day when summer ends. But, I feel like they are also gaining the experiences they need for their own growth and development. Our daughter has had opportunities she wouldn't have at home, like helping a peer with their morning work. She also has a minor level of anxiety in large groups. Being in school gave her the opportunity to be in a large group in a classroom without the craziness of unexpected movements and noise. This has helped her learn to manage some of her anxiety. She's less fearful of groups and no longer hides in a quiet corner if she's at a birthday party with kids running all over. She still doesn't like the noise and craziness, but she is also not afraid of it anymore. Our son has been able to learn to speak up. He was incredibly shy as a young child and refused to talk to anyone other than family or close friends, until his kindergarten teacher helped him learn how to speak up with unfamiliar people. That was something we could not do because he was always surrounded by people we knew. We couldn't force him to talk to the checker at the grocery store to just say, "hi." But, his kindergarten teacher's gentle encouragement helped him start trusting his voice. 

There are certainly great reasons to home school, but there are drawbacks as well. There are great reasons to put children in the public school system, but there are also drawbacks. There is no perfect system for educating our children in a well rounded way. I am very grateful for the wonderful teachers my children have had in their schooling. I may still home school at some point if it ever feels right. But for now, I have a confession...............I am a public school parent!

Saturday, August 20, 2016

Confessions of a Public School Parent


I have a great many friends who home school their children. In fact, most of my friends have home schooled their children in the last few years. My friends have given me an assorted variety of reasons for homeschooling, but there are a few common threads. I listen to these reasons and fully understand (even desire to home school my children for some of these same reasons). However, this post is to explain my reasons for putting my children in the public school system. There is so much on the internet about homeschooling and why people do it....I wanted a voice for those of us that choose the public school system. My husband and I have 6 basic reasons our children are in public school. 

Why My Children are in Public School: Reason Number 2

Diversity

My husband and I try hard to be open and loving to those around us. We befriend our neighbors and truly enjoy our neighborhood and community. However, even though we try hard to be involved with a variety of individuals, our circle still seems to lack some diversity. We have a few friends that believe differently from us and even fewer friends of various races. In essence, we are surrounded by like-minded people. We don't believe this is bad. We like to surround ourselves with people who enjoy the same things we do. But, we feel that our children also need to experience more diversity: of religion, race, language, ethnicity, thought, political views, socioeconomic status, teaching style, personalities, and so forth. The circle of people we surround ourselves with provides only minor opportunities for our children to interact with people in varying circumstances. Chances are, they will have to interact with a wider variety of individuals as they go to college, serve missions, and begin a career. It will be much easier for them to integrate into diverse situations if they have experience interacting with a variety of individuals.

It makes me think of Christopher Columbus. He was surrounded by a group of like-minded individuals. They all thought the world was flat and he was crazy. No one would fund his quest for a long time. If our children believe the world is flat and are surrounded by people who think the world is flat, they are missing something! Our son had a black teacher for first grade. He'd hardly had any interaction with blacks until that moment in his life and was quite afraid of her for a short while. She turned into one of his favorite teachers. Our daughter just had the same teacher without any of his initial fear because our circle was widened and she saw her brother's experience. As our children encounter different ideas at school, they bring them home and discuss them with us. We're able to regularly talk about respecting other's ideas and beliefs. We are also able to discuss what we believe and how what they learn fits into the circle of their widening world. Our children also have to learn about different teaching styles and how to learn in a variety of ways. They also learn how to interact with a variety of personalities as they are placed in groups for group work. Our daughter had to learn how to work in a group with a child that misbehaved. Our son has to learn how to work in a group with a child that didn't want to do work. These kinds of things will happen in the workforce as our children grow and get jobs, or they may have these experiences in college. These experiences in grade school will give our children experience to know how to handle these types of situations. We believe our children need this diversity and we just don't have ample opportunities within our regular circle to provide that for them. 


Friday, August 19, 2016

Confessions of a Public School Parent


I have a great many friends who homeschool their children. In fact, most of my friends have homeschooled their children in the last few years. My friends have given me an assorted variety of reasons for homeschooling, but there are a few common threads. I listen to these reasons and fully understand (even desire to homeschool my children for some of these same reasons). However, this post is to explain my reasons for putting my children in the public school system. There is so much on the internet about homeschooling and why people do it....I wanted a voice for those of us that choose the public school system. My husband and I have 6 basic reasons our children are in public school. 

Why My Children are in Public School: Reason Number 3

Exposure

Our children live in a society rich in inappropriate things. Some children are very disrespectful at school. Some talk about things that are inappropriate in a school setting. Some use inappropriate language. Belonging to a church (Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints) with a unique perspective on appropriate and inappropriate adds extra challenges. Our children often hear language that is okay with many families, but not with ours. They hear discussions about sex or other topics we believe are appropriate in a family setting, but not in a public setting. They see children being incredibly unkind to other children. They hear endless talk about things we believe are a waste of time, but are fine with other families (e.g. video games for hours and such). They hear students talking back to adults. There are a lot of inappropriate things that happen at school.

I don't like it. But, I believe it's also been beneficial for our children to see the world as it is. We have been commanded to be in the world, but not of the world. We want our children to be able to know how to navigate the world around them and decipher which roads and voices to follow, or how to lead. Now, if the environment they are in is too pervasively negative that they aren't able to function, we would certainly pull them from that environment. But, some negativity and inappropriateness are opportunities for our children to develop positive qualities. Heavenly Father even tells us that he allows bad/hard things to happen to us for our growth and learning. We certainly don't want to put our children in situations where bad or inappropriate things can possibly happen, but we know as we're prayerful about the decisions we make in behalf of our children Heavenly Father will help us. Heavenly Father allowed Satan to do some awful things to Job. These trials made Job stronger. Last year, our oldest son had a very rough environment in his school class. It was hard for us to allow him to suffer through the year, but we felt he needed to stay where he was. During the course of the year, a friend in his class did something inappropriate. Our son stood up for the right and told the teacher. He lost a friend for a time, but he also learned something important about himself. He learned that he could do the right, even when it wasn't popular, and the consequence were feelings of confidence and joy. He also learned what a true friend was. (If you're interested in reading the whole story about this event with our son click here.)   

Even if our children are exposed to some pretty terrible stuff at school, we feel like the things they have gained from these experiences have made their spirits stronger. As I watch our oldest son begin his 5th grade year, I can see a change in him from things he learned last year. He's already being proactive in his search for appropriate friends. He also recognizes when he should help someone in need that is being mistreated by another student. Our daughter has gained confidence as she has helped those that needed an extra hand. With all the inappropriate exposure our children experience at school, they are also exposed to the true nature of who they are and what they are trying to become. 

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Confessions of a Public School Parent


I have a great many friends who homeschool their children. In fact, most of my friends have homeschooled their children in the last few years. My friends have given me an assorted variety of reasons for homeschooling, but there are a few common threads. I listen to these reasons and fully understand (even desire to homeschool my children for some of these same reasons). However, this post is to explain my reasons for putting my children in the public school system. There is so much on the internet about homeschooling and why people do it....I wanted a voice for those of us that choose the public school system. My husband and I have 6 basic reasons our children are in public school. 

Why My Children are in Public School: Reason Number 4

Intelligence


My husband and I, like most parents, want the best for our children. We want them to be smart and successful. I do feel like our children would progress more quickly through the subjects they are learning if we home schooled them. But, intelligence, or IQ, is not the greatest predictor of success. Check out this 6 minute video from Angela Lee Duckworth - Ted Talks on "Grit." One of the greatest predictors of success in life is "grit." This is perseverance, passion, stamina, and so forth. Our children may progress more quickly at home in their intellectual understanding of subjects, but I don't know that it's the place our children are learning the most "grit." 

Our oldest son is a natural at perseverance. He does what it takes, how long it takes, to reach his goals. He doesn't quit when things get hard. He tries harder. Math especially does not come easy for him, but he works hard until he understands. At school, he has to use more perseverance as he learns math because it's not one-on-one. He struggles with math in a group setting. When I teach him at home and help him with his homework, he catches on more quickly. Of course we want our children to grasp difficult concepts more easily and have one-on-one time, but we also feel that they need to be able to learn how to work hard and persevere when things are more difficult. 

Our daughter is more easygoing. She doesn't quit easily either, but can sure learn more about perseverance. School work comes more easily to her. At home, with the student-teacher ratio of 3:1, our children wouldn't have to wait so long for help or try to figure as many things out for themselves. When I teach them at home, I try my best to let them do things on their own. But, if they came across a problem that is difficult to solve, they are more likely to come to me more quickly than their teacher at school, who has 18+ students to help. They learn to try harder on their own at school before they ask for help. When they really can't do it, they ask their teacher or bring it home for me to help them. 

I don't feel like our children are geniuses or better than average in their intelligence. But, I do know that our kids have a greater likelihood of success in life as they learn to persevere. Our children are learning to persevere in greater degree in the course of a regular day at school than they would at home. We feel that if we believed our children were too smart for school and we wanted to focus only on their educational intellectual-IQ type growth, we would be depriving them of other types of intelligence, like social intelligence and other behaviors exhibited by resilient children. We feel our children's success is measured not only by IQ, but also by social and interpersonal skills, and other valuable characteristic traits like perseverance. It's much more difficult for our children to develop some of these traits at home because neither my husband, nor myself, excel at everything and can only be an example for a limited range of characteristic traits. 

Note: I hope by now you have realized that these are very personal for me and my husband and our children. Every parent needs to decide what is best for their child and some children may have different needs than our children. 

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Confessions of a Public School Parent


I have a great many friends who homeschool their children. In fact, most of my friends have homeschooled their children in the last few years. My friends have given me an assorted variety of reasons for homeschooling, but there are a few common threads. I listen to these reasons and fully understand (even desire to homeschool my children for some of these same reasons). However, this post is to explain my reasons for putting my children in the public school system. There is so much on the internet about homeschooling and why people do it....I wanted a voice for those of us that choose the public school system. My husband and I have 6 basic reasons our children are in public school. This will be a series post, so stay tuned!

Why My Children are in Public School: Reason Number 5

Boredom

I have never been in a job in my life where I have been entertained or busy the ENTIRE job, including meetings. I have been incredibly bored at times in my life. When I worked at Subway as a youth, there were slow times with no customers and an already spotless kitchen, serving area, and dining area. I am a busybody, too. I have to be working. I don't know how many times I scrubbed the floor at Keva Juice when I worked as a night manager there because I was bored. Meetings, though necessary, can be incredibly boring at times. Some classes in college were boring................very boring...........to the point where I celebrated when I was able to stay awake the entire class period. There are even times when............gasp..............I'm bored at HOME! Certainly there are things to be done, but I'm bored of cleaning and laundry and cooking and teaching............

We want our children to learn how to be effectively motivated by boredom. Some children may get in trouble more often if they are bored, but I don't find that to be the case very often. Our children have rarely been in trouble at school, but often have times they tell me they were bored. I've also seen children in classrooms (I volunteer a lot in my children's classrooms) where the teacher has something for the children to do that is important learning work, but the children are off misbehaving. They weren't bored, just misbehaving because that's the choice they were making at that time. We want our children to realize when they are bored and be able to refocus if they are in an important learning time. We also want them to be able to figure out how to effectively use their time. If they get all their work done at school, they are able to read or find something to do to keep themselves occupied. They are much less likely to get bored at home because they are more free to move from one activity to the next when they feel done with something, thus giving them significantly fewer opportunities to figure out how to deal with boredom effectively. This entire summer I only remember our children twice saying they were bored.  

When our children get a job, we want them to be able to be self-motivated to find things to do if they find themselves getting bored. We feel that at home, it's harder for them to be self-motivated. At school, they can't always ask the teacher what they can do when they're bored. They have to figure it out for themselves! They learn to think ahead by bringing a book from home or look around at school for something effective to do, like getting ahead on homework. 

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Confessions of a Public School Parent


I have a great many friends who homeschool their children. In fact, most of my friends have homeschooled their children in the last few years. My friends have given me an assorted variety of reasons for homeschooling, but there are a few common threads. I listen to these reasons and fully understand (even desire to homeschool my children for some of these same reasons). However, this post is to explain my reasons for putting my children in the public school system. There is so much on the internet about homeschooling and why people do it....I wanted a voice for those of us that choose the public school system. My husband and I have 6 basic reasons our children are in public school. This will be a series post, so stay tuned!

Why My Children are in Public School: Reason Number 6

Good Example

In the school system, there are a lot of children who often make poor choices and/or have poor behavior. Then, there are children who regularly make good choice and have good behavior, but make poor choices regularly as well. Last, there are children who rarely exhibit poor behavior and make good choices often. Our children are not perfect. However, they generally have good behavior and make good choices, especially when they are at school.

As representatives of Jesus Christ, we encourage our children to make choices that reflect our beliefs. Our oldest son had a peer in 3rd grade who was often in trouble with his teacher. He was also not very nice to other children. My husband and I talked with our son and decided that maybe the boy was jealous he didn't have any friends and didn't know how to appropriately make friends. Our son befriended the boy. Over the course of the year, the little boy's behavior in class improved, as did his interactions with his peers. He did not become an incredibly great child in class. He still misbehaved and taught our son a few things we had to discuss. But, ultimately, we felt like our son had been a good example for this boy. Our son was also able to see the effect of his example on a peer.

I want my children to understand what it's like to be a good example for others and recognize bad examples. We talk about it at home and church, but I feel our children's experience with example is most noticeable in the school system. They can be an example to their siblings, but our children mostly get along and see only a limited number of behaviors that their siblings may emulate (whether good or bad). They also interact with many children at church who are all making an effort to exhibit similar examples. In the school system, my children have been able to see a wider variety of bad examples and choose not to follow those. They have seen a wider variety of good examples and learn from those. They also have been able to be a good example and see how they can affect those around them for good. The examples they set for their peers are also different every year as they have learned and grown. In the public school system our children see how a variety of people are examples, whether good or bad, in a variety of circumstances. We want our children to understand how they can learn from those around them and influence those around them. We feel this experience is more salient for our children when they are surrounded by a wider variety of ideas, a wider range of people from different backgrounds, thus a wider variety of examples to provide our children with a practical understanding of how to interact with and learn from others.

Saturday, August 6, 2016

S-E-X in School Part 2

In the last few months, we've had several opportunities to discuss with our oldest issues regarding sex. It seems that boys in fourth grade have an intense interest in body parts and sex. Our son is sometimes coming home confused. After a few conversations about how kids at school were talking about sex, I asked

M: Is sex bad?
K: Well, yeah. It's a bad word, almost like a swear word at school. You get in trouble if you say it at school.
M: Does that make sex bad? Do you remember what sex is for?
K: Yes. It's to make babies.
M: That's one reason. Is it bad to have babies?
K: Well, no. It's not bad to have babies.
M: It's really good to have babies and families. Sex is also really good for a husband and wife. It's good for their relationship. Do you remember that?
K: Then, why do the kids talk about it like it's a bad, secret thing?
M: Why do you think?
K: Maybe their parents don't talk to them or something. Maybe they don't know it's good!
M: I think those are probably very real reasons. But, I want you to know that sex is really good! God gave us bodies and one of the great things we can do with our bodies is create a family, starting with a husband and wife. This is also the best way for a husband and wife to grow closer together too!
K: Thanks for talking to me. I'm glad you tell me about it.

I asked him this question because I was getting the sense (I think it was a spiritual prompting) that he was beginning to wonder if sex was bad. The questions he was asking, and the body language and tone he would use as he described what he was seeing gave me an indication that he needed a little refresher conversation on the positive power of sex.

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Full House

As a family, we've enjoyed watching the Full House series. We were watching an episode where the three girls in the family, DJ, Stephanie, and Michelle, are growing up. DJ was16, Stephanie was 10, and Michelle was 6i in the episode we were watching. DJ was dating Steve exclusively and they had been dating for 6 months. Stephanie was playing baseball and had a good male friend on the team. Stephanie and her male friend planned a dinner out that included going to a baseball game. DJ teased her about it being a date. Stephanie then started freaking out and tried to fulfill what she thought were the requirements of a first date. She dressed nicer and tried to talk about more "romantic" things with her friend. Then, she ended the date with giving him a quick kiss. There was a good lesson already imbedded in the episode, which was that Stephanie didn't need to try and kiss a boy because she thought she was supposed to. She should kiss a boy when she felt ready.

After the episode, my wonderful hubby started a conversation with the children. Our oldest son is 10-years-old, just like Stephanie in the episode. He definitely has a crush on a girl at school, but kissing and dating are still far from his mind. Our 7-year-old daughter was also part of the conversation. Our 4-year-old was present, but not quite understanding what was going on. My husband asked the kids what they had seen in that episode that were different from what we believe about dating and relationships. Our 10-year-old said that the kissing DJ was doing at the end of the episode was something that should happen after being married because it was long. (Yeah! One point for our son! Not that we were actually counting points) Our daughter said that Stephanie was too young to be dating. (Yeah! One point for our daughter! Our son also knew it was too young, but did think it was seventeen that we start dating....fine by me) My husband asked how old DJ was and what kind of dating she was doing. Our son mentioned she was only dating one boy. (Yeah! Two points for our son). We had a great impromptu lesson on group dating and why we begin dating later than some people. We also pointed out that in the show, the family is very nice and has good values. Many people around us have good values, but don't believe as we do about dating. We need to be respectful of their choices, but also follow our own standards. I love Full House! It's given us a few opportunities to discuss things with our children. I miss television shows that always end with a lesson. At least we have Netflix for some classics from my childhood!

Thursday, May 5, 2016

Mastery and Masturbation


A couple years ago I noticed our son, who had just turned nine years old, was regularly putting his hands in his pockets. It looked like he was scratching his groin area. I asked him about it because he was doing it regularly, unashamedly. He told me it was itchy in that area. His dad checked it out to see if he had a rash or something. It didn't appear he had anything going on medically, but he continued to put his hands in his pockets and scratch.

A few weeks later I started getting the feeling that I needed to discuss masturbation with our son. This seemed a little early to me, but I heeded the feeling.

Me: I've noticed that even though we can't seem to find a rash, you are still scratching around your penis and scrotum. Is it still bothering you?
K: No. I guess I'm just used to scratching.
Me: Does it feel good to touch yourself on or near your scrotum and penis?
K: No.
Me: Well, for a lot of people it can feel good. Those body parts were made to feel good. I just want to find out if we need to take you to the doctor and get you checked out, or if it's just something you like to do.
K: Well, I guess it can feel okay.
Me: (I was trying not to lead him, but I could also tell he thought he was supposed to say that it didn't feel good. He thought that was the right answer and what I was looking for, even though it wasn't). Have you ever heard the word masturbation?
K: No.
Me: Masturbation is when someone rubs their own private parts, like a penis or vulva, so they can get special good feelings that come from these parts.
K: I didn't know that.
Me: Do you remember what these parts were created for?
K: They are for creating a family, making babies.
Me: Right. I just wanted to let you know what masturbation is and how we believe we should handle the feelings that come from these body parts.
K: Okay.
Me: Heavenly Father created these body parts to feel good. He did create them for us to have babies, but he also created them to give a husband and wife a special way to show their love. The experiences you have with a husband or wife in using these body parts bond you and give you happier feelings toward each other. It is supposed to feel good to touch these parts because you are already in love with the person you are married to, and touching these parts feels good in a way that helps you feel more in love with each other. It keeps you happy together and is a special way that only you and your husband or wife show love.
K: Oh. I didn't know that.
Me: Since these body parts are a way to show love, we believe that we should save those special feelings that come from touching these body parts for when we are married. We can clean them and take care of them, but we wait for marriage for them to be touched in those ways that feel good.
K: Okay. I didn't know that.
Me: Are there other times you rub your penis or scrotum?
K: Well, when I go to bed at night I rub it to help me fall asleep.
Me: Do you think you can find another thing to rub or something different to do at bedtime to help you fall asleep? You used to pet your puppy animal, but you've outgrown that. Do you have any ideas?
K: I'll try something else.

It's been over a year since that conversation and he quickly stopped rubbing himself. He had been doing it as a comforting technique. As he got older, it could have turned into masturbation. I am so grateful I heeded the feelings I was having because I didn't realize he was doing this at bedtime as a soothing mechanism. Being able to talk to him about what we believe was all he need to change his habits. He has a testimony of the importance of families, marriage, and sex in marriage, but he didn't realize that touching himself in that way was inappropriate. I just needed to connect the concepts and his testimony of marriage helped him understand why. I didn't shame him or get upset. In fact, I hope he has even more respect for these body parts since he understands now that they are supposed to feel good.

Thursday, April 7, 2016

What's a ding dong?



Our oldest learns some......different things at school. Recently he came home and asked at dinner:

K: Mom, what's a ding dong?
M: Actually, that's not really appropriate to discuss at the dinner table. How about we talk about that a little later, before bed. (I could tell this was not a treat he was asking about.)
K: Okay.

We didn't get a chance that night to discuss his question, but I had a doctor appointment with him a couple days later where I was able to have some time alone with him.

M: Remember how you asked me what a ding dong was?
K: Yeah. What is it?
M: What was happening when you heard this?
K: Well, Mark (name changed) was saying at recess, "Do you want to touch my ding dong?" to the other boys. They were all laughing.
M: What do you think it means?
K: I'm not sure. Something bad I think.
M: Well, it's a not nice name for a penis.
K: Okay.......................Why would they say that? I don't get it.
M: What don't you get?
K: Why they talk about their penis that way. It just doesn't make sense.
M: Well, maybe it's not okay to talk about these body parts at their house, so they find it mysterious or something. They just don't know much about it or who to ask, so they make up or hear things that are inappropriate.
K: Why wouldn't their mom or dad talk to them?
M: I don't know. Sometimes it's uncomfortable for parents to talk about.
K: Well, I'm glad you talk to me. If these body parts are good, why do they talk about them like they are bad?
M: That is an excellent question. They just don't understand like you do that these body parts are made by God for special reasons. You understand these reasons. They are body parts that need care, just like the rest of your body, but they also give you something special. Maybe they will understand later. You can always be a good example for them or walk away when they say things that make you uncomfortable.

I came away from this conversation feeling so grateful that, not only does he know the proper names for his body parts and the reasons for them, but he understands it so well that he doesn't understand why other kids make fun of or mislabel body parts.

Thursday, March 31, 2016

Outside of Marriage



We have a young single adult in our ward that belongs to a family we know and love. She is pregnant and unmarried. This is knowledge that we have not willingly provided to the children, nor made extra effort to keep the information from them. One day, our 10-year-old son asked:

K: Mom, Ann (name changed) is pregnant?
M: Yes, she is.
K: How can Ann be pregnant when she's not married?
M: That is an excellent question. Let's go in my room to talk about it. You know how a baby is created.
K: Well, yeah!
M: You know it takes a man and a women to create a baby.
K: Of course!
M: Do you remember when we talked about how sex feels good and it's an important part of a relationship?
K: Yes. I remember that a little bit.
M: Well, because sex feels good, sometimes it's hard for people to wait until getting married to have sex. They make a choice to do it when they feel like they want to, rather than waiting for marriage.
K: But mom, what will happen now?
M: What do you think will happen?
K: Who will be the baby's dad?
M: I don't know. I think Ann is going to be raising this baby on her own.
K: That's sad!
M: Well, that's the consequence of the choice she made. It's going to be hard, but she will figure things out.
K: I'm glad I have you and dad.
M: Me too. I'm glad dad and I were able to make choices that gave us you children after we were married.
K: I'm glad to have a mom and a dad.
M: I'm glad I waited until your dad and I were married too because we have been able to make our marriage stronger through expressing our love to each other in that special way. It's more than just for making babies and having those babies in a family. It's for making a strong marriage.
K: I remember that.
M: Do you think that Ann's mom and dad love her less now that she's pregnant and not married?
K: Well, no. They probably still love her a lot.
M: Do you think that they will love her no matter what choices she makes?
K: Yes.
M: Me too. Do you know that no matter what choices you make in life, I will still love you....and dad?
K: Yes.
M: Of course, we are supposed to teach you as best we can what is right, but you have the responsibility to make your own choices. But, we will love you no matter what choices you make.
K: I'm glad. I love you.
M: I love you too.

I didn't realize that the end of this conversation would be a testimony of the centrality of our love for him (and all our children), that our love isn't based on what choices he makes. I felt guided near the end of the conversation. I wasn't really prepared for this question, but the course of the conversation was definitely guided by heaven. Every conversation I have like this with these beautiful spirits Heavenly Father sent to our home also reminds of what He must feel for me. My testimony is nurtured as much as my children's testimonies are nurtured.

Thursday, March 24, 2016

Birthing A Baby


Apparently, our oldest didn't realize a few things related to the birth of a baby. He seemed to know the information (at least I thought he did), but it just didn't "click." After his recent interest in puberty and body changes, we found a book for him to refer to when he had questions. He knows he can talk to us, but he also has another resource that explains things in a different way. He's also had an increased appetite for knowledge about the creation of a child. I am so thankful for books and the opportunity to keep an open communication because I didn't realize he had a gap in his knowledge. He was voraciously reading the books he chose about puberty and birth. They came with a few more detailed pictures, like the drawn pictures of a woman in childbirth where the baby is starting the birth process (totally appropriate picture). The pictures are what finally helped some of his information "click."

K: How does a baby come out of that little hole??? It's just so tiny!
Me: Well, yes it is. Where did you think the baby was born?
K: Well, maybe out of the belly button or something.
Me: (Thinking - really!?!?!?!?!?! I can ask him where the baby is born and he says the birth canal or vagina. How did he not understand the place I was referring to was NOT the belly button. He knows the purpose of the belly button, too. Or rather, that the belly button is where the umbilical cord takes food to the baby. Seriously!?!?!?!?!?). Do you remember that the uterus is like a balloon?
K: Well, yeah.
Me: There's only one way for sperm to go in to get a baby started. There's only one way for the baby to be born. That's the vagina, between a woman's legs.
K: I know that, but I didn't realize the baby came out of such a tiny hole. Does it hurt?
Me: Yes. It can squeeze a bit. Then, I have you!
K: That's just amazing.
Me: Yes, it is. Heavenly Father created some amazing bodies for us, didn't he?
K: Yeah.

This was a moment where I realized just how important constant dialogue about birth, babies, and puberty is for my children. He could recite the information to me, but somehow there was something not connecting correctly. I was grateful for those books that could help clear up a misunderstanding!

Friday, March 4, 2016

Sperm and Egg Discussion



A couple months ago our 7-year-old daughter was talking about life cycles at school. I started getting the feeling that this was going to be a good time to start giving her more information about how babies are created. My husband and I sat her down on a Sunday afternoon and talked with her about the sperm and egg piece of creating a baby. We reviewed what she knew about pregnancy and childbirth.

A couple weeks ago, she asked her dad, "how do the sperm and egg even meet?" I was not home and my husband didn't want to answer that one alone (plus, it was bedtime and things were rushed).

When I had a chance to talk with our daughter, my husband was not home. I was disappointed he couldn't be there, but there was a good moment where I felt like she needed her question answered.

Me: You asked daddy how the sperm and egg meet.
A: Yes. How do they even get together? I don't understand.
Me: Well, first, can you remind me what you know about how a baby grows?
A: What do you mean?
Me: Where does the baby grow?
A: I don't remember.
Me: The baby grows in the uterus.
A: I actually know that. I just don't feel comfortable saying that word.
Me: Really? (surprise! Uterus is not usually a word that feels uncomfortable yet). Why do you feel uncomfortable?
A: It's a special place. I just don't want to say that word much.
Me: Oh. It's a part of your body just like your nose, eyes, elbow, kidneys, stomach, or bladder. It has a special purpose, carrying a baby. But, your eyes are for seeing. Your nose is for smelling. Every part of your body does something special that helps you grow or just live happily.
A: Okay. Yes. That's true.
Me: So, what do you remember about this cord right here? (I had the book, "Sex & Babies First Facts" by Jane Annunsiata and Denise Ortakales)
A: I can't remember the name, but I know it takes food to the baby from the mom.
Me: Yes, it's the umbilical cord. It changes the food from the mom to make it right for the baby.
A: Yeah. Mom, this doesn't answer my question.
Me: I know. I'm going back over this information with you because it all works together to make a baby. I want to make sure you understand all the parts before I give you more to think about.
A: Oh. Okay. What's this? (pointing to the placenta).
Me: That's the placenta. That's where the mom and baby connect.
A: What do you mean?
Me: Well, you see how the umbilical cord goes into the baby's belly button?
A: Yeah. I remember that.
Me: Well, there needs to be a part connected to the mom, like there's a part connected to the baby, so the baby can get the food.
A: That makes sense.
Me: That part is called the placenta and it's connected to the mom on the side of the uterus.
A: Okay.
Me: Do you remember how the baby is born?
A: Yeah. It comes out a tunnel, but I can't remember the name.
Me: The vagina, or birth canal. Do you remember how the uterus is like a balloon?
A: You never told me that!
Me: (Really????? Did I forget this with her? I must have). Well, you know how a balloon can stretch and grow? Also, there's an opening for blowing in the air?
A: Yeah. The baby comes out the hole and it stretches for the baby to come out?
Me: Exactly. The uterus is a muscle and can grow bigger like a balloon. As the baby grows, the uterus gets bigger. When it's time to be born, the baby squeezes out this little hole that stretches.
A: And it hurts.
Me: Well, it definitely squeezes a bit and hurts. Then, I get to hold a magnificent baby in my arms and look in their sweet eyes for the first time! (She giggled. She loves that part!) Now, you asked about the sperm and egg. Do you remember who has the sperm and who has the egg?
A: Ummmmmm, no.
Me: Mommy has the egg. Dad has the sperm. (I showed her another picture in the book). See, the egg is here in mommy's body. It looks like a little ball. It goes through these tubes into mommy's uterus.
A: Oh. What are these called?
Me: Fallopian tubes.
A: Okay. What about daddy?
Me: Well, the sperm come out of daddy's penis. Have you heard of sex?
A: No.
Me: Sex is when a daddy puts his penis in the mommy's vagina, the opening of the uterus. When the sperm comes out, they swim up and meet the egg. (I found the pictures in this book wonderfully helpful). See the sperm look like little tadpoles here, and they swim up to the little dot, the egg.
A: Oh! I see.
Me: How do you feel? Any questions?
A: No. That is awesome! (She was shaking with excitement) Mom, for my family home evening, I want to talk about families! I didn't realize how important they are, but now I know they are so so so important!

I don't think she meant she didn't think families were important at all. She has always seen families as important. I felt like her testimony had visibly grown about the plan of salvation and the part families play in that plan. She wasn't sure what words to use to express the growth of her testimony. This was the best she could come up with to let me know that her heart and spirit had a new understanding of the role of sex and babies. And, that this was a good thing for families!

I looked into her eyes at the end of our discussion and could see the light in them. I wish I could take a picture and capture that moment, but it still wouldn't be the same. I wanted to go further and tell her about sex also being great for a husband and wife's relationship, but I knew she was at the threshold of her capacity for new information. I didn't want to give her too much. I didn't review much of the information and have her tell me what she remembered. I plan on asking her about it and talking with her (with her dad there) in a week or so. She makes these discussions so pleasant that I actually look forward to the next discussion. The spirit is present and it just feels fantastic to have these conversations with her, or any of our children. It helps my testimony grow every time I see my children's growth.

Saturday, February 13, 2016

S-E-X in School


Last Sunday we were discussing Nephi building the boat in Sunday school at church. It was a wonderful lesson, very insightful. The class was discussing Laman and Lemuel and comparing him with Nephi.We were talking about Nephi's great faith during all that he went through in his life. I suddenly had a thought:

WHAT IF LAMAN AND LEMUEL WEREN'T PART OF NEPHI'S FAMILY? WHAT IF NEPHI DIDN'T HAVE THOSE TWO HATEFUL BROTHERS? WHAT WOULD HIS FAITH LOOK LIKE?

That was the beginning of an epiphany for me. Most of Nephi's trials were brought on by his brothers. He didn't have a problem going back to get the plates. He had a problem with his brothers not wanting to face Laban. He had a problem with his brothers beating him. He didn't have a problem getting Ishmael's family or bringing them back to his family in the wilderness. He had a problem with his brothers tying him up on the way back (except have faith, right?). Then, he didn't have a problem with breaking his bow. He didn't have a problem building a ship. He had a problem getting help from his brothers. He didn't have a problem crossing the ocean. He had a problem with his brothers tying him up again. 

Nephi was still a fantastic leader and faithful servant of the Lord. I don't think he would have lacked faith if he didn't have Laman and Lemuel as brothers. But, I do believe that the Lord placed Laman and Lemuel in Nephi's family for two reasons:

1. Heavenly Father knows his children and is incredibly merciful. He knew before Laman and Lemuel were born that they would be troublemakers. He placed them in Nephi's family with Nephi as an example so they would have the best possibly chance to make it back to him. Nephi's faith caused them to have experiences like seeing an angel and doing something that "couldn't" be done (building a boat they'd never seen in their lives). They had every opportunity Heavenly Father could give them to walk the path back to Him. 

2. Nephi was an incredibly faithful servant. Heavenly Father knew that the best way to increase Nephi's testimony and faith were by giving him his biggest trials - his brothers. Nephi had continuous trials throughout his life because they lived with him and interacted with him daily. Yet, he grew immensely through the things his brothers subjected him to: he saw an angel, broke bands around his wrists, built a ship, and calmed a sea (to name some of the most obvious). 

Here is my epiphany:

Our son came home from his 4th grade class one day a couple weeks ago and reported that he had gotten his friend in trouble. He was glowing! I knew it must have been something good. He had more confidence and was excited

Me: What happened?
K: Well, Bret (named changed) wrote S-E-X on the cover of my notebook (he's already getting uncomfortable saying the word!). I came back from doing something and it was on my notebook. He said, "Look what I did." He thought it was funny. That's a bad word at school, like a cuss word. Another kid heard him say it. I took my notebook to my teacher and showed her because even if I erased it you could still see the word. She had to scrub it off. Bret got in huge trouble. 
Me: How do you feel?
K: Really happy. Bret said he wasn't going to be my friend anymore. 
Me: How does that make you feel?
K: I'm just happy. I need a new friend. 
Me: Do you know why you are happy?
K: I did the right thing. 
Me: Yes. That's the spirit telling you that you chose the right, even if it meant getting your friend in trouble and losing that friend. Was he a good friend?
K: Nope. I don't know who to play with, though. All the kids at school have a friend at recess. 
Me: Have you tried asking Arty (name changed) to play. When I volunteer in your class he seems like a nice boy and doesn't get in trouble much. 
K: Yeah. I can try. 
Me: We can also pray that Heavenly Father will help you find the right friend. 
K: Yeah, I can add that to my prayers. I'll do it tonight.
Me: My heart feels happy right now, too. You made a good choice and that makes me happy too. 
K: Yeah. I'm glad I told the teacher. 

My epiphany happened in Sunday School. We pray every school year whether to continue putting our children in the school system. There are so many rough things they are exposed to. Every year we feel that they need to go to school. I realized that my son had a Nephi moment. Someone he cared about was causing him problems. When he had the chance to stand up to that person, his faith increased. I could visibly see it in his countenance. I don't like that this stuff happens, but I'm grateful that he had a Lemuel in his life that allowed his faith to increase, his confidence in God grow, and his knowledge of what the spirit feels like mature.