The Seventh Grade History Blues

Yesterday was filled with the stress of getting an unmotivated, tired-of-it-all, 7th grader to get her medieval history work done. Little did she know that her  7th grade teacher was quickly becoming tired-of-it-all.

It never ceases to amaze me how quickly we can get into a tug-of-war over the most inane things. James 4:1 asks, What is causing the quarrels and fights among you? And then he answers it with, Isn’t it the whole army of evil desires at war within you? It is all about self, is it not?

Sometimes I wish I could push a button and be transported to the time period we are covering so that when she writes her narrative of the events she has witnessed, her words will flow out of her as water flows out of the faucet. But we cannot travel through time, so she reads. Then she sits, with an open book in front of her, staring into space, the pen between her fingers, resting on her paper. It is agonizing watching her as she allows herself to be distracted by the ant on the wall, the store receipt, anything, in order to not write.

The problem is not the reading, she enjoys learning about history. When she reads, then narrates to me while I write it down, we are done in the blink of an eye. Her narrations show the depth of her comprehension.

Noah’s problem is the actual writing. Because she dislikes writing, she puts up her dukes and battles it out with her teacher, me. What she fails to understand is that I will not back down; the work will be completed.

As her teacher and mom, my motivation is not only to get her to complete her work in a timely manner, but to understand and retain what she is studying. My desire is to give her a firm Biblical and academic foundation to prepare her for what our Lord has in store for her, to learn discipline, and to acquire habits that will benefit her future.

When I saw her dawdling yesterday, we brought out our Bibles and she read Psalm 32:8-9, I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will guide you with My eye. Do not be like the horse or like the mule, Which have no understanding, Which must be harnessed with bit and bridle, Else they will not come near you.

It was followed by Proverbs 26:3, A whip for the horse, A bridle for the donkey, And a rod for the fool’s back.

Then it was on to James’ encouragement about taming the tongue, James 3:3, Indeed, we put bits in horses’ mouths that they may obey us, and we turn their whole body.

Finally, James 1:22-25,  where James exhorted us to hear and do what God’s word says, But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves…

We talked about how our Lord prefers for us to learn obedience and discipline the easy way. If we will not yield to His gentle instruction and leading, we leave Him no option other than learning the hard way. I pointed out that He wants us to obey Him so that we will be blessed. She understood perfectly and worked with diligence for some time.

Then it was time for lunch and she forgot the lesson about the horse, mule, and fool. I asked her if she wanted me to put the bit in her mouth and use the reins to help her get her work done, and she said, “No.” She got the message and got to work.

The thing that Noah has not understood about me is that my real name should have been Perseverance; I am stubborn about quitting when the going gets hard. There are times when I feel like a task master with her, driving and prodding her to accomplish the goals for the day. It is something I do not enjoy doing because it brings stress and frustration, but the mission is accomplished.

One day, when I was teaching her how to do something, she said, “Mom, your expectations for me are too high! I cannot meet them!”

My response was, “Do you want me to have low expectations for you? I do not expect more of you than I myself am willing to do. Are they so high that even I cannot achieve them? I love you too much to cheat you out of what God has for you by lowering my expectations to meet the culture of low expectations of today’s youth. Is that what you want? Will I be loving you if I do this?”

“No, Mom.”

Understand that Noah gets an abundant amount of grace and mercy to help her get through days like yesterday, when she struggles with motivation and getting things done. Some days I treat her to dark chocolate, ice cream, cookies, or hot chocolate; other days we walk to the clubhouse to play shuffle board, pool (we talk about geometry and the physics of pool), foosball, or air hockey. Sometimes we call it a day and do something creative or we rest.

Today we have our weekly morning Bible study. I hope she will be energized by her group and be ready to do the work we have scheduled; I know I will be. Hopefully, by the end of the day she will look back at all the work we have done this week and be satisfied.

As for history, we will continue to work on it. It will be easier once she is finished with the section she working on now, because in the new section she will be using feedback as a narration tool, and it does not require any writing. Shhh….please do not tell her; I want to surprise her.

Have a blessed day!

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