Many of you know about and are following along as I write a book currently titled, Slow Schooling, and Other Thoughts on Resucing Childhood. There is a burden in my heart for the children of the world. So much womb-killing (every two minutes in our nation alone). And if they make it out of the womb, the rampant abuse and neglect that awaits them in so many parts of the world. So many children homeless, malnurished, unloved. So many without fathers, or without mothers, or without either one. They live in a world where aborting them gets funding from world leaders, but adopting them takes a good part of a family’s salary. The trauma is overwhelming, and, unfortunately, cyclical. They end up doing exactly what they learned as children, to their own children.
I recently came across the story of Mama Kia, because of her ties to herbalism. I honestly wish I could have met her. I do not hear her professing Christ, but I do see love in action for the lost children of the world. And much of what I see on her video made me think a whole lot.
Let me ask you something. Do each and every one of your children know you are FOR them, that you are on their side? Do they each know how to grow, harvest, prepare and cook their own meals? Are they thankful for the food in their bowls, eating in gratitude? Do they appreciate the education you are giving them, and put their joy into art or music or whatever-lessons? Do they honor their heritage, appreciate the elders in their lives? Are they thankful for their clothing, their toys and books, taking great care for them? Do they respect and love you? Do you LOVE to be with them?
Mama Kia had a special gift of loving her children, and you can see how special she was to them (she died in 2010…another trauma for these precious children). In contrast, this is what I see a lot, here in our Childhood Culture of Plenty. Tantrums–even in teens, but in more socially acceptable means (we cultivate and expect that, you know, with our lingo of “terrible two’s” and “ugh, tEEnagers…”). I also see an expectation of getting served, or of getting rewarded for…I dunno…just breathing air… A disgust and mistrust for the old ways, authority, or elders. Moaning and groaning over schoolwork, chores, or over any sort of parameters on media consumption, driving privileges or dating. An ease in throwing things away (including relationships), and then “just getting a new one” (including relationships). An expectation of respect, but without the humility or winsomeness that naturally draws it. Children drowning in information from all kinds of sources, but without Godly wisdom.
Does it really have to be that way? Do we all, including our children, have to be in dire straits before the ugliness of sin and the beauty of the world collide to break our hearts? All of this sorrow ought to bring us to repentance, for we have all sinned, and then evoke gratitude and praises to the Lord for His mercy, kindness, and love. THAT is when we will overflow with His character traits to the world. THAT is out of how we love and nurture our children, and learn to trust and depend upon the God of the whole universe, the God who was, and is, and is to come. THAT is how we heal and heal others. But, alas, though many have needs, not many are willing to become servants. Mama Kia was just one person willing to pour her life and what she knew of love into dozens of children. Can’t I as a mother of (only?) eight do the same?
This is what I’m thinking. I get that I don’t live in a home with many people helping–I don’t have a cook, an educator, a housekeeper, or someone to run my farm. It is all on me. But it bothers me that my own children know I am a herbalist but can’t tell parsley from cilantro, much less which herb to use to treat a cough with. They know that “Christmas is not about getting presents”, but they won’t be as excited on the count down to Easter. And even though we don’t have TV, they still ask a billion times a day for media time and I have to make them go outside to play. And no one is excited about weeding or pulling up carrots. Like many of you, I have picky eaters, and I have siblings that will pick at each other as well. And they all, too, live in a culture where a trip to Disneyland is considered one of the most important rites of childhood on the planet. We here are knee deep in a world that breathes the toxic fumes of materialism and selfishness. We ought to be more on our knees in prayer, especially for the children. Our children.
In considering all of these things, I think “rescuing childhood” is not just about keeping our children well fed, educated, clothed and sheltered. It’s also about passing along our country’s heritage and our family’s faith, and teaching them how to live softly in the world, being good and thoughtful stewards. They should know how to craft something, whether it is carving a canoe or binding a book or weaving a caned chair, so they can serve and bless others. They should know how to grow and chop up vegetables, cook them, and eat them with thankfulness with the others they serve up a meal to in Godly hospitality. They ought to recognize the birds around their home, know how to read the Bible (the adult version), speak a second language, and be able to write letters. These are not things tested on the annual standarized exams, but they breathe life.
How are your kids doing? I don’t know about you, but I still have a lot of work to do. Chopping more carrots with my children may leave me with less time to blog and tell you about it, though. I know you’ll understand.