On Voyages of Discovery
Spring is just around the corner. I will put my winter plate away – the one that pictures a cozy fireside scene from The Four Seasons of Brambly Hedge by Jill Barklem
It is the last of my set of four to show you.
Our copy of Little Fur Family by Margaret Wise Brown has characters that are not afraid of yet another week of snow. The littlest fur creature benefits by being out of hibernation. He exercises his inquisitive nature as well as his limbs.
I like to see the root children in joyous procession come out of the ground holding each a spring flower, dressed in their flower’s color. There is a dance in their step as they anticipate the sunbeams again with beetles and ladybugs joining in. Sibylle van Olfer’s The Story of the Root Children is a childhood favorite of one of my readers – and I can see why.
|A neighbor's mailbox|
By long-distance letter, a friend in the south told me her daffodils are blooming. “I wish our daffodils would stop dilly-dallying?” I said to Dean in a moment of impatience. Some afternoons the temperature has been above freezing. But I should know better. Daffodils don’t dilly-dally. They bloom only when favored with a string of 50 degree days. No other temperature will coax them.
To soothe my cabin fever I felt it time to take out my faux daffodils for the kitchen windowsill.
It is good to know that spring is around the corner. Young children indoors for long cloudy months can become irksome. Mother, too. Older children can be strangely moody.
When I read the following passage by Miss Charlotte Mason, I couldn’t help chuckle. It is a piece of writing that is as entertaining as it is meant to be instructional as Susie looks for tid-bits close at hand to satisfy her inquiring mind. (I can’t help wondering just how many servants Susie’s mother has.) Miss Mason writes:
Susie is an inquisitive little girl. Her mother is surprised and not always delighted to find that the little maid is constantly on voyages of discovery, of which the servants speak to each other as prying and poking. Is her mother engaged in talk with a visitor or the nurse? Behold, Susie is at her side, sprung from nobody knows where. Is a confidential letter being read aloud? Susie is within earshot. Does the mother think she has put away a certain book where the children cannot find it? Susie volunteers to produce it. Does she tell her husband that cook has asked for two day’s leave of absence? Up jumps Susie, with all the ins and outs of the case. ‘I really don’t know what to do with the child. It is difficult to put down one’s foot and say you ought not to know this or that or the other. Each thing in itself is harmless enough; but it is a little distressing to have a child who is always peering about for gossipy information.’ Yes, it is tiresome, but it is not a case for despair, nor for thinking hard things of Susie, certainly not for accepting the inevitable. . . . What ails the child is an inordinate desire for knowledge, run to seed, and allowed to spend itself of unworthy objects. *1
What do you think is Miss Mason’s remedy? First she recommends getting Susie outdoors to pry into nature. I fancy the girl in the painting to be a girl like Susie. Doesn’t the sunshine look inviting?
Next, Miss Mason conveys the importance of setting Susie’s mind on larger matters. This works wonders for people of all ages. Are we learning anything new? Or, do all our hours seem “old hat.” A good question to ask a student is this: “What new thing did you learn from today’s (Bible, history, science) lesson?” A report at the dinner table spreads the new knowledge around and may even tickle the younger students’ interested ears. If the reply is too often a gloomy “nothing” adjustments may need to be made, somewhere. The freedom to make adjustments is a blessing of home teaching. Challenge and blessing frequently coincide.
On a lighter note, when my children were young, during a month when we were cooped up, I’d keep a book of riddles handy. At lunchtime I’d read a riddle – just one. (I could have read more riddles but I chose to ration them). While they ate they took their time thinking about how to answer the riddle. We’d smile at the guesses, and sometimes giggle when enlightened by the answer.
Something new to think about – like springtime - is a refreshing change that helps us rise above the mundane and replaces trite curiosities.
May you always be learning something new – for your Mother Culture - even if it is simply a recipe for red cabbage – baked with apples and spice it’s nice.
Comments are welcome,
*1 Charlotte Mason, Parents and Children, page 176.