Cat’s In the Cradle

Yesterday I shared with you Schoolhouse Rock, an assortment of great, educational songs from my childhood. To this day, whenever I think of a noun, I think of Schoolhouse Rock. That’s a pretty powerful memory association.

Today I’d like to share with you another powerful song from my youth, one that has shaped my attitude as a parent. I won’t say it’s made me perfect, but it has made me a better parent, and it has definitely made me more involved. That song is Cat’s in the Cradle.

I don’t remember when I first heard the song or if I cried that first time. But once I realized what it was to be a parent, and do keep in mind I have raised one child already, it became a warning siren. I didn’t want this to happen to me.

And the cat’s in the cradle and the silver spoon
Little boy blue and the man on the moon
When you comin’ home dad?
I don’t know when, but we’ll get together then son
You know we’ll have a good time then

We get so caught up in our lives – in making ends meet, in just trying to survive, that we often forget just how little time we have with our children or how quickly they will be gone.

When I read moms write, “I’m so relieved school is starting, I need a break!” I simply cannot relate. No, my child is not perfect, and yes, there are times she’s got me on the express train to insanity. But I love her, and I know from loving and caring for one child from birth to walking out the door, that the time goes far too quickly. You blink twice and they are ten years old.

My son turned ten just the other day
He said, “Thanks for the ball, Dad, come on let’s play
Can you teach me to throw”, I said “Not today
I got a lot to do”, he said, “That’s ok”
And he walked away but his smile never dimmed
And said, “I’m gonna be like him, yeah
You know I’m gonna be like him”

I think about the state of our culture today. In so many cases, most cases it seems, both parents work. From infancy, their children are shuttled to daycare and then to preschool and public school – spending a majority of their waking lives in someone else’s care.

I remember raising my eldest, now 23 (well, in a couple of weeks), and she and I did not have a choice. I was a single parent, her father refused to help financially and what could I do? I worked, she was in daycare and public school, and we struggled even then.

I believe that our culture, our country, and our families are…broken. And the sad part is, most of us don’t know how broken we are. It’s the new normal. Homeschoolers are a tiny, tiny voice in the wilderness, trying desperately to reclaim what we as a culture, and as families, have lost.

I homeschool because I want Emily in my life – each day, every day, morning, noon and night. It haunts me that I couldn’t give that to my eldest. That what we lost, in terms of time, energy, and bonding can never be replaced.

Our time with our children is so short. Such a painfully small blip on the radar of their lives. We have such a small window of opportunity to love, cherish, and learn with them by our sides.

So when I listen to that song, Cat’s in the Cradle, that is what I think of. And when my child comes up to me to show me her writing, or ask me to do an activity or read a book, I try desperately to remember those lyrics. I turn from my computer, from the important work in front of me, and remind myself that it can wait, and that she will not. She’s growing up before my eyes. The clock is counting down.

My child arrived just the other day
He came to the world in the usual way
But there were planes to catch and bills to pay
He learned to walk while I was away
And he was talkin’ ‘fore I knew it, and as he grew
He’d say “I’m gonna be like you dad
You know I’m gonna be like you”

And the cat’s in the cradle and the silver spoon
Little boy blue and the man on the moon
When you comin’ home dad?
I don’t know when, but we’ll get together then son
You know we’ll have a good time then

My son turned ten just the other day
He said, “Thanks for the ball, Dad, come on let’s play
Can you teach me to throw”, I said “Not today
I got a lot to do”, he said, “That’s ok”
And he walked away but his smile never dimmed
And said, “I’m gonna be like him, yeah
You know I’m gonna be like him”

And the cat’s in the cradle and the silver spoon
Little boy blue and the man on the moon
When you comin’ home son?
I don’t know when, but we’ll get together then son
You know we’ll have a good time then

Well, he came home from college just the other day
So much like a man I just had to say
“Son, I’m proud of you, can you sit for a while?”
He shook his head and said with a smile
“What I’d really like, Dad, is to borrow the car keys
See you later, can I have them please?”

And the cat’s in the cradle and the silver spoon
Little boy blue and the man on the moon
When you comin’ home son?
I don’t know when, but we’ll get together then son
You know we’ll have a good time then

I’ve long since retired, my son’s moved away
I called him up just the other day
I said, “I’d like to see you if you don’t mind”
He said, “I’d love to, Dad, if I can find the time
You see my new job’s a hassle and kids have the flu
But it’s sure nice talking to you, Dad
It’s been sure nice talking to you”

And as I hung up the phone it occurred to me
He’d grown up just like me
My boy was just like me

And the cat’s in the cradle and the silver spoon
Little boy blue and the man on the moon
When you comin’ home son?
I don’t know when, but we’ll get together then son
You know we’ll have a good time then

Homeschool Log for 8/22/11

Mathematics – We read through the Hello Math Reader Lizzy’s Dizzy Day which covered Addition & Subtraction. It was okay, but it didn’t hold either of our interest. This might be a god book to go back to later on, however. We also re-read Footprints in the Snow – Counting by Twos.

Health/Nutrition – We read How Many Teeth? which was fun with plenty of rhymes sprinkled through it. I’m still hoping to find a book that discusses proper brushing technique. It’s as if it is a non-issue or something that simply isn’t covered until a child is older. However, proper brushing techniques (the three sides of of your teeth, brushing the tongue, and learning how to floss) are all important NOW. If anyone has a good book/video suggestion, I would sure appreciate it!

Language Arts – Emily helped me co-read Beep, Beep a School Zone Start to Read book. As we began to read it, she said, “I really don’t like it when I have to help you read.”

“I’m sorry to hear that.” I said, “Is it because you are nervous about getting it wrong?”

“Uh huh.”

“Well, we will take it slow. You are getting better each day, you know.”

She did well, and I only asked her to help me on a few words. I don’t want to be pushy, but I also don’t want to just let it go completely. What I hope for is a compromise of sorts – her trying and me doing a majority of the reading, until she decides she is ready for more.

Later she put on one of the Magic Treehouse CDs we got at the library. The Magic Treehouse book series is one she has enjoyed on and off for a year now. She played quietly while listening to the story.

In the evening, we tackled some more Write and Slide Phonics and after I had finished the lesson with her, she asked if she could just look at the answers on one and practice writing the missing letters. Who was I to say no? It may have only helped with practicing her letters, but I hope that some of the word recognition will have gotten through as well. While she did that, I read aloud to her.

Foreign Language – I had neglected my Spanish studies last week and was overdue for the Pimsleur Lesson #3. I was distracted, and did not do well on the lesson. I’ll be repeating the lesson later or perhaps on Tuesday to ensure I have full retention (or at least 80%!). I told Emily before starting the lesson that I would be answering the questions out loud and she was welcome to follow along if she wished, but that I only expected her to play quietly while the CD lesson was on. She drew on the white board, glued an art project, and generally puttered about as the lesson played. She spent quite a bit of that time also repeating right along with me the Spanish phrases.

On Sunday she was able to visit with our Honduran neighbors to the south and they quizzed her on her Spanish and noted she had learned a lot. Have I mentioned lately how wonderful my neighbors are?!

Creative Play – While listening to the Magic Treehouse, Emily baked muffins in her play kitchen and brought me one. “What flavor are the muffins?” I asked.

“Every flavor in the universe,” she said, “even apple flavored!”

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