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?


Sarah said...

Hi Rosemary, I have thoroughly enjoyed this post this morning! We have just started 'Understood Betsy', the first chapter last week and I read it on Tuesdays. We read 'The Wind in the Willows' first. All I know is when my children are on their own they are like little angles but when they are together they can fight like cats and dogs (sometimes). I just ask God each and every new day to help me to train up my children in the way they should go as no child is like the other. Parenting is tough! :D

Ruby said...

Life is a wonderful journey of learning lessons. Rebekah is a good teacher for you!
Have a great week!

Carol said...

Interesting thoughts, Rosemary. Can't identify with the only child side of things as I'm one of 7 as well as having 7 of my own but I think it's similar in some respects with the youngest child in a large family. Our youngest gets too much attention & everybody else tends to jump in & do things for her. Our older children's friends give her lots of attention too as most of them don't have younger siblings. I think being aware of the situation is a good first step.

Anonymous said...

How funny! We are reading this in our house at the moment too.

You are an awesome mum xo

Clara said...

I just recently got hold of that book for my children to read! :)

I wasn't an only child and I don't have an only, but I know what you mean about putting things off or not allowing her to do things as soon as you probably could - sometimes I'm like that too, and I have more than one child! I think it's important to keep checking on ourselves and our real reasons for not allowing them to do things or putting things off. ;)

Joyfulmum said...

Thanks ladies for your words of wisdom:)
Clara, Sarah and Jo-Anne, you and your kids are going to LOVE this book!

Probhita Shew said...

That is such a great book! Ria and I thoroughly enjoyed it!

I grew up with three siblings and loved it and some of my good friends are 'onlies' who also loved being an only! I absolutely have come across the spoiled single brat child but then brats come in bunches as well! It all comes down to upbringing and the values that parents choose to inculcate on purpose or by default. From the sounds of all that you have chosen, Rebekah will do more than fine!

Joyfulmum said...

Thanks Probhita! You're right that spoiled children can come from any family background. I am trying with God's grace and wisdom to ensure that the things that come naturally as being part of a bigger family would be woven into Rebekah's life. Parenting keeps us on our knees doesn't it!
I'd love to know why our 'only' friends loved growing up as an only as Rebekah longs for siblings:(

Amber said...

Hello :)

I can't comment on the only-child questions. But i can say that we LOVED 'Understood Betsy' here too & want to give it a vote from the boys too! I am grateful for the comment that I read on the AO site that recommended it for boys as well as girls.

It's a beautiful read. xx

probhita said...

Awww! My niece is an 'only' too and she asked me this summer if she could adopt my son, Brandon, for a brother!

Good question though, I should ask the 'happy onlies' why they preferred being that!!

Joluise said...

I have two children 5 years apart. After I had my second son I knew I wouldn't have any more, so I spoilt my baby as I knew he would be my last baby, a little like having one child. Whilst I wanted my eldest to grow up, I didn't want to loose my baby. So I do understand where you are coming from.

Beloved's Bride said...

Awww. I have a sister that is 5 years younger. We grew up with different set of friends, rules, etc. Although I am not an only child, sometimes I do think our parents reared us totally different. And, most of my friends who are only children remark that I act like an only child. (Not sure what that means but I find it funny!) Obviously, I have 5 kiddos so I don't know how to parent an only child but I do know one thing... God has chosen you to be her Mom and you are such a great one. He will give you the wisdom you need as you go through each stage with her! I don't think you have much to worry about! She is obviously a great gal!

Great book review. I was wondering about that book and will probably go seek it out to add to our collection. I just did major research on math story books! Can't believe what is all out there to explore!

Anonymous said...

Hi Rosemary...I love reading about the connections Rebekah as made, it's so exciting to see their ideas unfold from their own selves. It's great. Obviously I don't know about raising an only child, but i guess everyone has a differnt style and that makes every child's experience unique. Rebekah will have a bunch of cool memories and fun stories to think back on when she's an adult, and having such a supportive and creative mum in you, I think she is super lucky.

Richele said...

Hi Rosemary - what a thought provoking post and equally interesting comments. I'm one of six but remember going camping when our oldest was seven. He asked if he could walk down to the beach by himself (maybe a whole 100 yards) and I knew I had to say yes though I so wanted to go with him. Now at ten and a new hometown, he walks to the library and back by himself. It does make my heart flutter but I know we need to raise him to be independent of us and more dependent on the Lord.

Oh, and Max and I loved "Understood Betsy" - continue to enjoy!

Joyfulmum said...

Thanks ladies for your comments! Richele, so good to see you active in blog land again. I always love reading your blog and your comments! Yes, I've had some good comments about this and am trying to let Rebekah become more 'independent' gradually!