Getting through Childhood One Little Song at a Time

7:40 AMHeather

Did any of you notice something really off about my blog title yesterday? At first, I misspelled apparently, I didn't learn ALL I needed to know in kindergarten. I did correct my mistake, but for some reason, the link on F.acebook would not clear the misspelling. Anyhoo, now that we are all feeling so nostalgic (or at least I am)...let's continue our journey through my top 40 life lessons.

9. Never underestimate the power of a lesson disguised in a song. A kindergarten teacher friend described her job as, "teaching 5 year olds all they need to know one song at a time." A-men, sister, a-men. Oh, the hours that my sister and I spent listening to Music Machine. Anyone else? The joy I felt when I found a CD of this a few years ago...unfortunately, after about 2 songs, my children were done. I was so disappointed that they didn't share my enthusiasm. But, they did recognize these lyrics: "Have patience, have patience don't be in such a hurry, when you get impatient, you only start to worry." See? Music from childhood became a parenting tool! I learned all about the fruits of the spirit from listening to this tape-- over and over and over. Music is a powerful learning tool.

10. You should soak in every opportunity to be with grandparents. The summer of 1980 had us moving from Hawaii to Iowa, via a summer spent with grandparents in Texas. We lived with my maternal grandparents in Dallas, but my paternal grandmother would drive over after work on Friday sometimes and pick us up for a weekend in Fort Worth. That summer brought an opportunity to know my grandparents in a new way, and oh so many memories. The sounds of cicadas at night, the taste of Granny's new potatoes in white sauce, Poppy sneaking us coke and peanuts while Granny finished getting ready for church, and the sound of Granny's charm bracelet jingling down the hall--signaling it was time to put away the coke. Weekends with Grandmother meant the good smell of her house, and all the fun we could cram into two days--the zoo, ice cream, movies, Casa Manana, and the Log Cabin Village. On Saturday nights at Granny and Poppy's, we'd watch Love Boat and Fantasy Island with Poppy (yes, really age appropriate). If anyone lived in Texas in 1980, you know the record breaking heat and drought. I can remember the day it finally rained. Even my EVER SO pragmatic Granny went out to dance in the rain. Those 3 months were such an opportunity for me--and I am so thankful for them.

11. A little color on the wall makes a house more homey. Our house in Iowa was our first ever non-military housing. This meant we bought our house--and I was fascinated with the fact that the walls were painted COLORS. Not military-approved white with rules about hanging things on the wall. I felt like a princess in a palace in my LAVENDER room with purple gingham curtains. My sister's room was powder blue and the guest room was mint green. Oh, the wonder of it all.

12. Good teachers really do shape the future. Yesterday, I mentioned that Hawaii's schools were ranked 49th in the country--when I moved to Iowa, they were ranked FIRST. Whew. Quite a change. My 4th and 5th grade teachers sparked my imagination and a love of learning. I couldn't believe we got to use pottery wheels in art, and I vividly remember the food chain project, weekly creative memory assignments, my research paper on Amelia Earhart, and a huge research project on the state of Iowa. These teachers took the time and made the effort to make learning fun--and what an impact they had because they saw potential and challenged us. We can never pay good teachers too much.

13. Strangers really are friends just waiting to be made. Being shy and an Army brat is a brutal combination. And the move to Iowa was a big one because it was the first one that was so clear in my memory. Then, we moved again 2 years later--and another time 2 years after that. I can remember my parents telling me that strangers were just friends waiting to be made. It felt like one of those things that people just say. But in hindsight, I see the truth in it. People might have differences, but we can find common ground with a little effort and conversation. The move to Iowa was a turning point where making friends became easier for me.

14. You reap what you sow. My dad was thrilled to live in Iowa where he could plant a HUGE garden. And I do mean HUGE. Dad planted things that I didn't even know existed--like rhubarb. We had cabbage, corn (of course), strawberries, beans, watermelon, squash, and tomatoes. Oh, the tomatoes. My dad, apparently, didn't know how much a tomato plant produces. So, he planted LOTS of them. Dad then explored every recipe known to man that required lots and lots of tomatoes. He made spaghetti sauce, he canned tomatoes, he made salsa. When his creativity hit a limit, he began to give them away. People at church began to run the other way when Dad walked toward them with a brown grocery bag. But, reaping what you sow goes way beyond gardening.

15. A sense of community is important. When I was in 8th grade, we moved to Lampasas, Texas--where the city limit sign said, "Howdy folks! Welcome to Lampasas. Heart of the Cow Country." We didn't have a McDonald's, the nearest movie theater was about 30 minutes away, and the nearest mall was nearly an hour away. Living in a small town means everyone knows everything about you. But it also means a sense of community. The whole town literally closed down for Friday night football games (GO BADGERS!). When I got pulled over for speeding, the officer took one look at my driver's license and knew I was Reverend Murray's girl. (My dad had retired from the Army and became a pastor). I had never lived in a town where people settled for generations, and children attended school together from kindergarten all the way through high school. While I never completely shook feeling of being the new girl, I loved the sense of community. In the big city where we live now, we seek this out for our kids through our church and our neighborhood because it is important.

16. Faith is best taught by example. I grew up in a Christian home, attending church on Sundays, Sunday nights, and even Wednesday nights. I went to sleep listening to Bible stories on tape. Our faith was important to us. But, I learned it best by example. When I was 17--just 3 days before Christmas--my dad had surgery to remove cancer in his pancreas. 8 years earlier, colon cancer was successfully removed surgically. We weren't too concerned because the biopsies ruled out any spread of cancer. But, just part way through surgery, the doctors came out and gave the grim news that the biopsy was wrong. The cancer was throughout Dad's liver. It was terminal, and he had 3 to 6 months to live. This was not the expected outcome. Yet, when my Dad was told, his simple response was, "For to me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain." That best summarizes how my Dad both lived--and died. According to Philippians 1:21. And, what a legacy of faith his example leaves.

INTENTIONAL challenge: All this reminiscing this week has me thinking about the memories I'm making with my kids. What words of wisdom that I offer might take root and stick with them? What little songs that we sing will they be singing to their children? And, how am I leading by example? That's a lot to ponder....and I hope that what I am doing as a mom now will someday show up on a blog post written by my children about the good things from their childhood.

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