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Some Thoughts for the Upcoming Coffee with Heads

(A reprint of a prior blog entitled “On the Nightstand”)

Nightstands are very interesting places. Largely personal, mine contains a myriad of gardening magazines, a business title, usually a Paolini or Riordan work so that I can stay up with the recreational reading of our middle school students, and a book with historical perspective or two.  

It’s to one of the latter that I have paid particular attention, of late; Rural Wisdom – Time-Honored Values of the Midwest, by Jerry Apps, is a calming piece. Written in the style of the late San Francisco Chronicle columnist, Herb Caen, it is comprised of short, sometimes witty, but most oftentimes thoughtful reflections of the time when common sense ruled the land, the average person spent the majority of their lifetimes within 50 miles of their place of birth, and children were familiar with the origin of the blisters found on the palms of their hands.

Chapter six is entitled, “Family,” and pays a good amount of attention to those members of this traditional social unit who also happen to hold the majority of our collective attention at Warren-Walker School during the course of any given day – children.

Three of the more poignant reflections found in this section of the book are most pertinent. The first reads:

Allow your children to be children. The childhood years are few: the adult years are many. Having chores to do is important; so is having time to play.  

The Headmaster is not naïve. Large lists of chores do not adorn the modern-day refrigerator or “pop up” as reminders on a smart phone, but piano and swim lessons, soccer and gymnastics practice, and that weekly trip to the dojo do. Be careful. Don’t over schedule your child. If the trip to the ball diamond on a Saturday morning seems more like a sentence than a family outing, as you look at the white knuckles on your steering wheel, it’s time to find an opportunity to go to the beach and build a sand castle.

The second offers the following advice:

Talk to little children; listen to them for their ideas are fresh. Watch them. Learn from them. They are real and experiencing life to the fullest.

Whether your child is little, as this admonishment puts forth, a middle school student, or like mine; passing beyond their twenties, listen to them! Try something. Take a day or two and concentrate on them saying more to you than you to them. With the little children, it is an opportunity to calm oneself, for parents of young teens it’s an opportunity to practice anger management, and for us parents of adults, a time to stay connected and let go, at the same time.

The third stands on its own:

Children may ignore your advice, but they will never ignore your example. They notice how you treat animals, how you care for the crops, what you say about your neighbor, and what you think of rural life.

Posted by Mr. Raymond Volker on Monday October, 8, 2012 at 01:28PM

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