Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Understood Rebekah

I was going to title this post "Understood Betsy Rebekah" but alas I'm not clever enough (yet) to have figured out how to strike through a word in the title!

And if you're unfamiliar with the story of "Undersood Betsy" which we just finished reading for term 1 of Ambleside Online Year 2 (yay!) here's a snippet from Wikipedia:

"The story tells of Elizabeth Ann, a 9-year-old orphan who goes from a sheltered existence with her father's aunt Harriet and cousin Frances in the city, to living on a Vermont farm with her mother's family, the Putneys, whose child-rearing practices had always seemed suspect to Harriet and her daughter. In her new rural life, Elizabeth Ann comes to be nicknamed "Betsy," and to find that many activities that Frances had always thought too demanding for a little girl are considered, by the Putney family, routine activities for a child: walking to school alone, cooking, and having household duties to perform."

You can read more here.

This is a truly delightful story which we have both enjoyed reading and I highly recommend it especially for children around the ages of 8 to 10. You can read it for free online here and here.

Rebekah thought the author was a very funny writer as we laughed a lot at many places in the book!
It was amazing to see the connections Rebekah made between her life and that of early 20th century's Betsy. It was also amazing to see (without my questioning) what assessments she made of the various characters within the book, e.g, that Aunt Frances had given Betsy too much attention or that Betsy had become 'tanned' because of the manual work she had done on the farm. These are not discussions I have ever had with Rebekah but ones that she would talk to me about (uninitiated) after reading the book. Charlotte Mason was so right when she said not to get between the child and the book but to allow the child to make their own connections. Well, I've seen it time and again in Rebekah's life. It has freed me up and removed the 'burden' of me having to do the 'teaching'.

Also, on the topic of Betsy and making connections, I assume Rebekah concluded that she was perhaps a bit like Besty (when she lived with her Aunt Frances in the city) and wasn't allowed to do too much (ouch) because she has begun to ask me to teach her to sew and to allow her to do some cooking independently (another ouch for me)!

Being an only child, Rebekah is the oldest and the youngest! No younger siblings has made her the 'baby' of the house in some ways which has meant that at times I err on the side of 'babying' her too much and not allowing her to do things perhaps other children her age would be doing like cooking independently etc. (Ron is much better at this than me which is why I say 'I' not 'us')!
An example would be that she sat in her booster seat in the car until the age of 8 (though the law says they are not required to sit in one after 7), shhh, don't tell anyone lol! To make matters worse, we did this only after she complained that she was too old for it:)
On the other hand, not having any other siblings also means that she gets more 'adult' conversation and interaction with Ron and I, probably much more than other children her age that I find in some respects she can carry on a much more mature conversation than other children her age.

I know some of my mum friends must roll their eyes at some of the things I do or say:) I know some of this is inevitable as we all "learn" parenting with our first borns. But alas she has no one following her so I am never at the place where I can say confidently that I know what to do in a situation (because we've been there before).
I'm sure other mums of "onlies" can identify with this?

Whatever the case, I'm always learning; having to 'loosen' up a little to let her become more independent and 'trust' her with more responsibilities. This book has definitely helped me in this journey.

I'd love to hear from you all that were either an only child or have only children. What words of wisdom do you have for me? Would you care to share some of your thoughts on growing up as an "only" or raising an only child. Please do tell, I'd love to hear them. Also from parents of more than one child, what are your observations from the sidelines? Do you have any thoughts or wisdom to share?