Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Simple Joys

Tuesdays are now synonymous with Simple Joys at Chief 187 Chatter. A blog that started as a one off so moved my husband and inspired record pageviews as well as heartfelt responses has now morphed into a weekly mainstay. Simple Joys is, of course, utterly personal. Mine are on display for all to read. Yours are welcomed at this site, but even if you simply think of them because of this blog, I’m happy. That adds yet another Simple Joy to my life. Now, without another moment’s hesitation, is this week’s Simple Joys. In the interest of truth, it is important to note that all of the following events actually happened all in one day. Truly. I can’t fabricate this stuff. Truth is indeed stranger than fiction!

Report Card. Ever since my son entered second grade he has been earning letter grades on his report card. And each marking period ‘report card day’ since the very first in this system has been a tense day. I have questioned my worth as a mother and a teacher when his grades fell short of the desired “straight A’s” that so many of his peers seemingly achieved effortlessly. Punishments were enacted when grades plummeted. The classroom teacher always prescribed extra work for home, something I was doing anyway. My son, always a people pleaser, especially for his mother, and who genuinely tried and wanted to do well, never complained about the extra work and was so disappointed and even shocked when his grades were less than stellar. My son earns very good grades; mostly B’s, a smattering of A’s and an occasional C. His handwriting, however, is atrocious. His hand muscles have always been week and his penmanship skills have always left a lot ot be desired. This affects his grades in Spelling, for example. He knows how to spell all of the words, but his letters are sometimes formed so poorly that the teacher is unable to give him credit for the word. This is frustrating for all involved:  child, teacher, and parent. We work together as a team to foster the best program for my son to succeed. Grades, we both understand, are not nearly as important as learning, yet a stigma is still attached to lower grades. Still, he and I both persevered to his needing supplemental help at home and I needing to be more accepting of his handicap. I continue to learn and accept that I’m not judged by how well my son performs at school and he continues to work hard each and every day, never giving up on himself. This week report cards were handed out citing the end of the third of four marking periods. Typically a time when grades are up for my son, I was concerned that his had fallen. I braced myself for whatever was to be written on the card. To my delight my son had worked consistently, improved in several areas, and had finally wrangled his weak hand enough to get decent handwriting more regularly. It was a very good report card.

Big Brother Responsibility. My oldest son is truly a delightful child. Although not without faults, he is the type of person I would seek out to be friends. As his mother I am often touched by his enormous capacity to love, his sensitivity to his familial role, and his desire to pitch in and help his father and I. After a relaxing period of play in the backyard with the neighbor children, it was time for the little children of our house to come in, as it is still cold in my neck of the woods. My son dutifully, without being asked, sent the two younger children in the house with the promise to clean up the outside toys and return them to the shed. Most eight-year-olds I know would never think to take on that responsibility themselves and would actually balk at having to do it while the other children came back to the house. My son thinks differently. We’ve raised him to help, but even I must admit that the child is intrinsically thoughtful, caring, and unselfishly helpful. He neither gets an allowance nor any other monetary/material reward for the chores he does around the house or with his siblings. He does them because he wants to be helpful. Later in the evening my oldest, after the many wonderful things he did to help me during the day, requested the next Simple Joy of my week.

Bedtime Stories. Among the struggles my son experienced from Kindergarten on was reading. He could do it, but he lacked confidence and struggled with the whole process at times. Like with handwriting, he never gave up and we’ve worked tirelessly reading. He reads to me, I read endlessly to him. He’s become a good reader. On that same night this week my son asked if he could read his baby sister her bedtime stories. I, of course, delightedly said yes. He sat in the glider in the nursery; the same chair I sat up and nursed all three of my babies. She sat in his lap, lovey in one hand, a toy in the other, and snuggled into his bony, gangly yet loving body. He read the first story, Pajama Time by Sandra Boynton, just like his father, in a funny voice that makes us all laugh and smile. The next book called Good Night, Charleston by Mark Jasper and Cooper Kelly, he read calmly and matter-of-factly, trying to keep his tone peppy and interesting. Lastly he finished with Time for Bed by Mem Fox, and read that in the most soothing, loving voice. He’d, of course, heard his father and I read these books countless times to himself, his little brother, and his little sister. His grown-up manner, attention to detail, and gentle, loving ways completely over-whelmed me. My baby was now taking his place as a caregiver, even if it was for only a few minutes here and there, he was able to assert himself into the role beautifully. It gave me a glimpse of the man he is to become and the wonderful father I hope and pray he will one day be able to be.

Laundry. On the same night, after reading to his sister and helping his little brother get ready for bed, this boy helped me sort the freshly dried laundry. His brother and sister help me with this chore normally, as he had once did as a younger child, but now he’s usually gone when the task is at hand. This night he wanted to help sort the socks. He did a great job! Among the socks was one of his father’s handkerchiefs. Identifying with his father he asked to have it. I one-upped that request. I presented the boy with a box of his very own white handkerchiefs to keep with him; enough to carry a new one each day of the week. He was as thrilled as if I had given him a new toy! He’s sweet on a young lady whose parents we see socially often. Thinking of all of the ways he could utilize the handkerchief as a “gentleman” kept his eyes gleaming and my heart swelling.

I’d be lying if I didn’t admit the child has his detractors. His temper can flare, he’s talkative, and unable to stay focused at times. He can be argumentative and often resides in a bit of a strange fantasy world. Still, he is, without a doubt, the nicest child I have ever met and owns a special spot in my heart as the boy who made me a mommy. Watching his growing pains coupled with the elegant man trying to emerge over time is a daily Simple Joy.

I cannot apologize for a blog solely about my oldest child. He is a source of infinite Simple Joys. Other joys filled my week and they will get mentions at a later date, but a night like this, a perfect pearl of a day with a boy I adore, was worthy of the entire blog.

Watching TV with light saber in hand


  1. Looks like we both have a "joy boy". ;)

    I have been thinking since the weekend for a Simple Joy to respond, but this week... can't think of one I haven't already written about. However, taking your lead...

    Your oldest is your joy, my youngest is my joy. I've been calling him "joy boy" for many years. He is one of the most easy going, witty, smart kids. He amazes me with the way he thinks. When he asks a question and you give him an answer, you can see the gears turning in his head pondering and processing. His vocabulary shocks me at times. This morning I was signing his report card and filling out next year's transportation form. I told him that he needed to tell his teacher that the transportation form is in the report card sleeve and it needs to be turned in or no bus for next year. He said, "Then I'm not turning it in, I don't like school, I just don't like the CONCEPT!" What 7 year old boys uses the term "I just don't like the concept." He knows what it means and was used in the correct context.

    He is always bringing materials into the house. Wood, old pieces of plastic. We have one of those tall construction pylons in the bonus room. He plans to use it when he builds something so people will see the pylon and will know to stay away. For Christmas he asked for test tubes and wood, for the "secret lab" he was going to build underneath the house!! BTW, our house is built on a slab. ;)

    This is the same child who as a Tiger Cub figuring out his first Pinewood Derby car was explaining friction to my husband (& explaining downforce, without knowing it).

    He is my cuddler. He still will climb up and cuddle next to me for some "momma' time." Being the last I don't think he is spoiled, but he certainly makes it easy to be a parent!

    I wanted 6 children when I got married, then after my 2nd I wanted 4... I'm glad we stopped at 3, because who knows what I'd be missing from this child, or what differences in personality there would be if there was a 4th.

  2. My joy is reading your writting. You cannot imagine the pleasure I get when my baby is writting about her baby! There is a wonderful word to describe this joy ( excuse my spelling) the word is "quelling". It sort of means the pride a parent gets when their child excels.
    An inner pride.