Monday, August 06, 2012

August Beginnings

I can’t get used to school beginning in the beginning of August instead of the end. Does anyone know why? Is it because of air conditioning? I don’t think the number of days in the school year have been increased, or have they? I guess the old-fashioned calendar that allowed families to start school the day after Labor Day is gone forever. Anyhow in Illinois, everyone is buying school supplies and getting ready for the academic changes coming in their lives.

In fact, if anyone local reading this has size 8 boys blue jeans or clothing to give away, drop the clothes by the farm and I’ll make sure Katherine passes them on to a single mother who needs them for her son’s return to school.

Our granddaughter Erin spent the night here prior to driving to Saint Louis to catch a flight to Dallas. She will return Wednesday. Her dog Sadie is visiting the farm while she is away. I wanted to do something to wish Erin Godspeed, so I fried bacon to go with our breakfast cereal. Our dog Jake, who gets along well with Sadie, gave Erin a send-off by following her car down the driveway barking. Gerald can’t get timid Jake to stop that. Interestingly, Jake never chases our car or truck.

I visited with our daughter Katherine yesterday afternoon and evening as she did not have an aide scheduled. Her morning aide had gotten her ready for church, but by the time they finished, it was too late to go to Katherine’s church. Katherine suggested they go to the aide’s church, which started later—St. Paul’s Baptist Chapel in Marion. Katherine was thrilled with the pastor’s sermon there, and she could not help but be impressed when she learned he also taught at Southern Illinois University Carbondale. David took us in their van to their own church for the last evening service for their interim pastor before their new pastor comes on the field. Katherine is able to attend any service so seldom that going to church twice in one day was extraordinary.

There was an ice cream social after church in the interim’s honor. Katherine enjoyed visiting with friends and seeing how babies had grown and hearing good things about their son Sam. I saw several people we know, and a young woman came up and asked if I was the daughter of the late Clyde and Katherine Martin of Goreville. My parents have been gone long enough now that it is rare that I run into their acquaintances, so I truly appreciated her coming to talk with me.
Her husband was the grandson of Ernest Hancock, one of my parents’ friends, and she and I both knew the same wonderful story of this grandfather’s going to a country school at a very early age and sitting under the desk, not talking or reading. Then he finally came out, and of course he could read perfectly. As an adult, he was a Johnson County school teacher for many years. Rural schools sometimes met children’s needs in ways our present schools cannot as I doubt many teachers would allow a child to sit under the desk today.

But many rural schools were inadequate. Years ago I borrowed my cousin David’s copy of a self-published book written by a Johnson County retired country school teacher—back when self-published books were much rarer than today. I was so embarrassed by the man’s near-illiteracy and his seeming ignorance of his own inadequacies. I could not imagine how he could teach children much, but maybe I was wrong about that. He might have been empathetic and a better teacher than I figured he might have been. Teaching and learning come about in strange ways often times.

All five of the original GlascoFive (Gerry’s family) happened to be at the Premier Fast Pitch National Championship tourney at Irvine, California, last week. It was Geri Ann’s last travel tournament participation. She was playing on one of the Southern Force teams. Erin (recruiting for SIUC) and Tara (recruiting for University of Georgia) were able to share a hotel room and a lot of sisterly giggles. Erin loved all that time with her mother. It was a special time for the whole family.

Tara’s husband Bryan was home in Georgia supervising the three little boys--with the help of baby sitters when he was working in the other part of the house. Gerald thoroughly enjoyed thinking about this and hearing anecdotes about six-year-old Aidan’s first football practices. Three-year-old Maddox entertained himself very happily running the tract there, and since Payton is swimming like a fish these days, it looks like those parents will have a lot of sports events to attend to. Gerald was amazed to learn Bryan had even dared to take the boys bowling—including Payton who was able to get the ball half way down the alley and started by yelling with great enthusiasm, “Go Payton!” As the evening progressed, he was yelling, “Go me!!” I think Bryan and Tara have his self esteem in good shape despite his being overshadowed by two big brothers.

Some people criticize the emphasis these days on building self esteem, and some of the criticism is warranted. Yet it is difficult for a child (or adult) with low self esteem to have the confidence to learn. That is why building self esteem is important by parents and teachers. We all need to esteem ourselves as worthy human beings created and loved by God and desirous of learning from Him. Life long learning is a precious and necessary activity.

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