Thursday, April 22, 2010

Things My Homepreschooler Has Taught Me

During a recent trip to the mountains of Baucau (which you can read about here), I discovered a few things that I usually take for granted, and was pleasantly reminded about them by my 3 and a half precious, more than a handsful, moody yet adorable little boy.

1. Always see the fun in the seemingly dull, boring, down moments of life.

We had arrived at Laga Parish and were waiting for our hosts to tell us where to put our bags etc (we ended up waiting for over an hour! Woohoo!). At first, Tim was grouchy and insisted that he didn't want to stay there, etc etc. But a few minutes later, he saw the open area inside the compound and the Uma Tradisional (Traditional House) and declared to us "I like it here! Yey!" and proceeded to run around, play and laugh to his heart's content.

Reminder for me: SEEK OUT THE FUN IN ALL SITUATIONS. Be like a little kid and laugh and play to your heart's content even when you're exhausted or down. It can do wonders for your soul.

2. Don't complain. ADAPT. God will see you through every situation.

It always amazes me how resilient children can be. Many times I underestimate how Kuya Tim will adapt to certain situations, especially when we're on mission trips. God's grace really shines through him when he feels at home in strange places, and while we adults are moaning and groaning over the heat and tiring roadtrip, he has no complaints whatsoever. He can even sleep soundly in the stifling heat.

Reminder for me: I HAVE NO RIGHT TO COMPLAIN. I am truly rich, greatly blessed, deeply loved. Despite what I may think, there are many others less fortunate than me, yet are happy and content with their lives. Praise God at all times and in all things!

3. Every day gives us opportunities to LEARN. The best lessons are those learned from LIVING.

During the road trips of our mission, we would sing songs, ask and answer questions, play games, pray. We'd have pit-stops to stretch our legs and take pictures. These simple but meaningful activities are learning opportunities for everyone, not just the kids. Though Tim had the most fun of all!

Reminder for me: NOT ALL LESSONS ARE LEARNED FROM A TEXTBOOK OR CURRICULUM. Let your homepreschooler learn through play. It's the most effective and fun way!

4. PRAY at ALL times. LIVE out your FAITH.

Whenever the road would get too bumpy and we'd all be bouncing up and down in the pick-up truck, Tim would make the sign of the Cross and say "Please God, don't make the road bumpy. Amen." Whenever we would pass by a Church (or what Tim would perceive to be a Church/Chapel) he'd make the sign of the Cross and remind us to the same.

Reminder for me: PRAYER IS ESSENTIAL. It keeps us rooted in LOVE.

Don't get me wrong, though. There were of course times when Tim had his tantrums and meltdowns and stubborn, difficult moments. But praise God as always for our homepreschooler, who despite all his faults (which are miniscule compared to his parents'!!!), is really a little angel sent from above!

We love you Kuya Tim!

Tips for YOU, the homepreschooling Mama, when you're on the go with your child:

1. Try to insert fun facts (about anything you can think of!) during your conversations on the road. You can point out things or objects that you pass by and talk about them.

For example: trees (that they are living things, they need sunlight and water to grow, etc), paddy fields (that's where rice comes from), animals (make a game out of it and ask your kid to name each animal and their young).

2. Make sure that you've packed enough snacks and drinks to keep your child satisfied and hydrated. Especially when you're in hot, hot places like Timor Leste (or the Philippines!) or elsewhere.

3. Let your homepreschooler choose two to three each of his/her favorite books and toys for the trip. Explain to him/her that he/she should not look for a book or toy that you've left behind at home. Letting your child choose gives him/her a sense of power and independence and helps boost his/her self-esteem. Don't forget to bring along a notebook and his/her crayons too!

4. Explain to your kid(s) beforehand where you'll be going and why. Although this is often met with protests and pleas to stay home, at least you'll be giving them the benefit of knowledge and will be preparing them to adapt to the new place/s you'll be going to.

5. Try to know beforehand where you'll be staying and what facilities are lacking (e.g. no running water, as in our case in Laga), what kind of food is usually served, etc etc. If your child is the picky eater type, bring along some food or snacks that are familiar to him/her.

6. Try to make every place where you stay "home" for your kid. If needed, bring along his security blanket or lovey or whatever else is familiar to him/her.

7. ARMED WITH YOUR FAITH, HAVE FUN and let him/her LEARN THROUGH PLAY at every place you go to!

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