I get mad when people tell me what I should do.
I got made the other day when an older woman said she thought the world was going to hell in a hand basket BECAUSE people don't sit down at a table to eat. Really?! IF the world were going to hell (and I see much evidence every single day to restore my faith that we are NOT going to "hell in a hand basket"), would it really be because there are many families who do not sit at a table to eat? I would say that a family falls apart when the father hits his family, or the mother is addicted to meth, or the child is in a street gang...NOT because they don't sit down at a table to eat.
When the woman said this, I could feel the ire rising in me, and I knew I could decide to just keep it in, or I could say something...so I said something. I said, "My family rarely sits at the table anymore to eat." She actually gasped and grabbed at her throat...what?! I kind of chuckled and said, "I make real breakfast for my kids, but I will often put it in a cup with a lid so they can eat in the car. We have quite a ways to drive to get to school and work." She shook her head and pursed her lips, so I continued, "We get home so late that the kids will get home, take care of the farm animals, do their homework and then it is dinner, bath and bed, so we often eat on the couch and cuddle together and watch something."
What I didn't say, and should have, was that my family is constantly talking, laughing, cuddling and working together. We do EVERYTHING together. I do not care that we don't sit at a table and eat with the proper fork; I truly don't. I do not think that sitting properly at a table to eat is an indicator that the world has great things coming to it.
What I do believe is worth my time is to teach my children to be kind: to themselves, to other human beings, to animals, to the earth. We have practical lessons all day long at our fingertips, and I take every long suffering moment to do it. If there is anything I worry about with children these days (and as an educator, I see it constantly), it is that there are many of them that seem to believe that they "deserve" and "should get" everything they want. They don't seem to understand that hard work is what they need to do to get what they want. They should learn to ask with politeness. They should learn to respect where things come from, and where they are going. I believe that I am teaching my children those values.
Maybe when I am old(er), I'll be nagging at some young mother about how the world is going to hell in a hand basket because of such and thus, and they won't give a snit because their values will be different again, and just as worthy and full of hope for the future as well. Then again, maybe I'll learn to keep my big mouth shut and look and listen a little more as I get older before I judge an entire generation.
As proof that what I do with my children is amazingly worthwhile, look at the photo I snapped of them standing together in the pasture. They were ACTUALLY looking at the alpacas next door, testing who liked butter best with the buttercups, looking at bugs on the tall ends of grass, and laughing, laughing, laughing...ending in this sweet embrace. My heart was swelling, and I was really happy to have my phone to snap a picture of them together like this. I see them like this often, but not always in such a wonderful setting as this...yes, for today I can feel pretty good about what I do with my children.