True Confessions of Parenting

The Deputy Headmistress is fond of a certain rather florid writing style. She thinks it is fun to sound a pretentious, preachy, stuffy governess of the Victorian Age. The Headmistress loves to lose herself in yesteryear as a gentle and inexpensive vacation from real life. She wishes others to enjoy this escape with her, but not to despair and feel that they do not measure up the Deputy Headmistress. In real life, the scatty mother who is playing the Deputy Headmistress also does not measure up to the Deputy Headmistress.

We fear the Gentle REader does not believe us when we say the Deputy Headmistress is not floating through life in flowered gowns, white gloves, and a gentle cloud of violet perfume and gracious gentility. She is more often seen stumbling through life in her house slippers, cup of coffee in hand. That gentle cloud is probably because she didn’t have time to shower, and the gracious gentility looks perhaps more like utter distraction upon closer aquaintance.

Still desbelieving? In a departure from our usual style, we take you back to an event of yesteryear. Perhaps seven years ago, the Headmistress shared the story below with some friends. With some slight editing of errors, the Headmistress repeats it for your edification.

Lost, Stolen, or Strayed
(We return to channeling the Headmistress to tell the Gentle Reader in firm but friendly tones that we hope Gentle R. is familiar with the poetry of the esteeemed A. A. Milne, and so we assume this literary allusion needs no further explanation)

Lost: Portable phone
Found: In freezer

Stolen: one package of starbursts
Found: empty wrapper next to small pair of dirty footprints in bath tub behind
shower curtain.

Strayed: Entire contents of my pantry shelves (boxed and canned goods to feed a
family of nine for over a week)
Found: Entire contents of pantry utilized to form abstract sculpture on
kitchen floor.

Broken: One towel rack
Why? It could not withstand the weight of a thirty pound gymnast, a defect shared also by my quilt rack and the wooden clothes rack.

Furthermore, approximately 412 books have migrated from their assigned
shelves to my bed, and I didn’t do it.
Moreover, the lovely sound of rain I thought I heard this afternoon was instead the
distinctly unlovely sound of the toilet rejecting an entire box of tissues.
In addition, I found my sweatshirt wrapped around a half eaten apple long past its prime in the back of the wardrobe, our 13 y.o.’s schedule has some illegible additions made with green crayon, and a missing dishtowel and hotpad were found in the oven (fortunately before we turned it on for lunch).

The Toddler left her fingerprints everywhere today, perhaps because she found an inkpad left out from rubber stamping. Those fingerprints were on herself, her clothes, and my leather chair. The Toddler also had to clean indelible marker off of her, her hands, her clothes, the window, the table, and the counter.

Today the 13 y.o. told the little culprit not to hit her, and the culprit glowered fiercely and said,

“I *need* to.”

As near as I can tell, *nothing* that is an acceptable toy to me is an
acceptable toy to The Toddler. It sounds like she’s spending lots of time alone, but she’s not. She’s simply fast.

Once upon a time my dh wouldn’t believe me when we told him how quick she was. Then we left him alone with her. She was standing at the livingroom window wailing as we drove away, so he though it would be safe to make a quick dash to the bathroom to do the necessary. He returned seconds later to find the 2 y.o. child standing on the kitchen counter pulling out a bottle of tylenol from the highest shelf in the cupboard. We didn’t even realize she knew it was there. We bought a fishing tackle box with a lock and key for the medicines.

But we can’t lock up everything in the house. At this point, the best solution I have is chains and a cellar for The Toddler.

Well, no, what we’re going to do is schedule one person to play with her each
half hour. That way, her sisters can do their school work unmolested and I can
assist them all as necessary and get my chores done.

Do not tell me to let her help. I’ve tried letting her help. She only wants to do the dangerous jobs, if it carries a risk of burning, cutting, dismembering or death, that’s the job she wants. If it’s safe for a toddler, that’s a job beneath her.

I’ve tried ‘filling her bucket first’ i.e. making sure I do special things with her first. We start our mornings with her snuggling with me in bed while I read her a book. Then I do a puzzle with her after breakfast, and other togetherness activities follow- but it doesn’t matter. As soon as I have to go do something else, she’s either demanding the personal attention of whoever is the busiest, most pre-occupied person in the house, or she’s wreaking havoc.

It’s a good thing she’s so perfectly adorable.
************************************************************************

As Equuschick says, So. Yes.

We survived. We got a dog. We had a baby. We prayed a lot. The Toddler is now Nine. She has had two accidents requiring stitches (five each) and one accident requiring surgery. She is our sixth child. We tell people God made her our sixth child rather than our first because He knew it would take that many of us to keep her from killing herself every single day. She is full of vim and vigour and the joy of living. Fire sparks from her fingertips, lightening flashes from her eyes, and consumes my heart with love and gratitude to the marvelous God who trusted us with her. Of course, fear also overwhelms at time. What was HE Thinking? How can we be trusted with her?! She is irreplacable. We are not worthy. And we hope her children will be just like her. Anything less would be most unfair.

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A Tale of a Kilkenny Cat

There once were two cats of Kilkenny,
Each thought there was one cat too many;
So they fought and they fit,
And they scratched and they bit,
Till, excepting their nails
And the tips of their tails,
Instead of two cats there weren’t any.
**********************************************
Here’s a tale of one cat from Kilkenny
Who thought Equuschick had ten fingers too many
So she threw a great fit
And she scratched and she bit
But since Equuschick is tough
The cat soon had enough
And the Equuschick grabbed her in both fists, using the teeth plunged deep into her own fingers as leverage and grabbed that cat and plunged her back in her cage and locked the doors tight and that cat is one sadder and wiser mammal now, or would be if, regarding sense, she had any.
*********************************

Blogging has been somewhat lighter than we had hoped because of a recent minor (we hope) family crisis. A few days ago we received a telephone call informing us that we needed to meet Equuschick at the hospital, as she had gotten in a fist-fight with a cat and would be unable to drive herself home.

The cat (henceforth known as Edwina Scissors-paws) escaped from its cage while being fed, and Equuschick fought Edwina Scissors-paws and succeeded in keeping the beast from her face and putting it in its cage and then went in the office, shut the door and put her head down and bled messily, and somebody fetched her off to E.R.

There are several scratches and at least one bite (which means a deep puncture wound), and her hands are swollen, and cat bites and scratches are nasty, nasty, nasty. Edwina Scissors-paws is a feral cat, which makes her bites even nastier.

When we arrived home from E.R., the Deputy Headmistress spent some time on the internet googling ‘feral cat bites’ and sharing helpful factoids with Equuschick. Did you know that 80 percent of all cat bites result in infection? Or that bites over the knuckles can actually damage ligaments? Or that sepsis can result from cat bites? Equuschick said that the Headmistress should come away from the computer and quit frightening herself with horrors. The Equuschick is still at that age of invincibility and immunity from long term negative consequences, so she was not herself personally horrified.

Nonetheless, Equuschick’s hands, unaware of their invincibility, did get infected, and she had a return visit to our family doctor. She was put on a stronger antibiotic, spent four hours in the office having her hands repeatedly soaked, scrubbed (with a wire brush), and soaked in disinfectant again, and then the
doctor spent some time tweezering out bits of fuzz probably from the towel used to staunch the bleeding at the time of the Kilkenny Cat encounter. The Doctor also gave her a time consuming home regimen involving soaking in various brews, pouring other brews over the wounds several times daily, and plucking catnip by the light of the full moon and burning it in the stump of a newly cut osage orange while reciting the above nursery rhyme- backward. Or so it seems.

The Equuschick’s attitude remains one most accurately described as resentment. She resents the inconvenience, and tells us “It’s just a finger- why are we all making such a big fuss about just a finger? Why is a single finger interfering with my life so much? How can such a small thing cause so much trouble?” And we merely look at the Equuschick, who is 5 feet tall only if she is wearing thick hunting socks, and do not say a word.

The Deputy Headmistress cringes at the thought of what the tiny but mighty Equuschick will say when she sees this blog entry. The Deputy Headmistress knows she only avoids immediate computer retaliation because the Equuschick is unable to type at her usual speed.

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North Korea, Part III

Previous posts on the LA Times story on NK and conditions in NK are
here and here.

Hugh Hewitt emailed some questions about the article to its author, Barbara Demick. He posted those questions and her responses here.

He also links to other blogs that discuss his interview or other aspects of the NK story. The Headmistress wanted to check those blog entries to assure herself of their suitability for the tender years of the Common Room students, but the computer was obstructive.

Narration assignment for Common Room Scholars:

If you could interview Ms. Demick, what are some questions you would ask her?

Is there something you would like to tell Ms. Demick?

Collect your thoughts and write a polite email to Ms. Demick. You will find the address at Hugh Hewitt’s blog.

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Art & Civilisation

When I was madly studying for my CLEP test the Deputy Headmistress/Zookeeper/Head Librarian handed me two books she thought would help me study. One of them was simply titled “Civilisation” and had a photograph of a statue relating to Charlemagne on the cover. When I began reading it, however, I discovered that it is an art history text. This was rather a bummer for my studying purposes, but it is really (as far as I can tell) an excellent book. Because I’m one of those Copy Many Quotes People, I’ve decided to share some of my favorite passages with readers here.

The first sentence that made me think that this book wasn’t going to be your run of the mill text was: “…I may add that the men of the Dark ages took a less patronising view of birds than do the makers of Christmas cards.” Such a practical attitude towards art warmed my heart. Yes, I like sappy paintings (PreRaphaelites, for example) but art should also be something strong and forceful. If it is only sentimental then it is not really art (which is one reason why Elsie Dinsmore books are not good literature, but that’s another tale for another time).

Later on we get an excellent definition of what really differentiates a civilisation from, well, a non-civilisation:
Civilisation means something more than energy and will and creative power…How can I define it? Well, very shortly, a sense of permanence.”
A page later, Kenneth Clark goes farther in this definition, “Civilised man, or so it seems to me, must feel that he belongs somewhere in space and time; that he consciously looks forward and looks back. And for this purpose it is a great convience to be able to read and write.”

What should we conclude, then? That Christians should be civilised (yes, I know I win the “Duh! Award” of the week). We *are* to be looking both behind us and before us (although mainly before us) and this sense of belonging gives us the anchorage to truly produce real art. Not sentimental art, real art.

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A Chance to Help a Child

Joey is a little boy with an incredible story. Some day we hope he’ll be telling ti to everybody. We don’t know Joey, but Joey’s grandmother goes to church with a relative of the Common Room family. Our source told us the following:

Little Joey pulled a big screen TV down on top of him. It crushed his skull. It was feared he would bleed to death before the ambulance could get to the house. But they made it and he was rushed to a critical care hospital in Las Vegas. There, neurosurgeons had to remove a portion of his skull and his brain, both of which were shipped to a lab in Los Angeles for storage and preservation in hopes that once the bleeding and swelling stopped within Joey’s brain that they could be re-attached.

His grandfather died of cancer the day after the accident. The day after the funeral, the grandmother flew out to be with her grandson. Doctors told the family to begin looking for a permanent nursing home, for they said Joey would be a vegetable the rest of his life. Joey’s family hoped otherwise, and they knew people all over the country were praying.

Joey is now home. The information on the website is helpful (and a place to find out how you can be helpful!) but is dated. According to our source, Joey

“has taken a few steps on his own! While at home, he pulled himself up by the couch, stood up, and walked about 3-4 steps unassisted. The doctors keep using the word “amazing” to describe his progress to date.”

Our source also says that

“Any email or card of encouragement you can send to Joey’s family would be greatly appreciated. Initially the out-pouring of prayer and concern was strong, but has tapered off of late. Sharon and Chuck [Joey’s parents] both draw strength from each email and card they receive.”

There’s more to this remarkable story which I am not yet at liberty to share, but please go to the link below and sign the guestbook for them, keep Joey in your prayers, and consider donating to the trustfund.

Here is a link to the Joey Infantino Trust fund.

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