I didn't quite make it. I finished my last book yesterday afternoon. Sad! I tried so hard. I'm still going to report on it, because I made up the rules for this goal and I'm giving myself a pass. HA.
1. The Parenting Breakthrough by Merrilee Boyack
My wonderful high school friend, Shelley, recommended this book to me after we discussed the Tiger Mom book and found we needed something more useful for us as parents. Merrilee Boyack is LDS and no nonsense. Her approach is to have a plan. THE PLAN. She suggests looking at parenting as training for your children. What are the things you hope for your children? What will they need to know to achieve that vision? Train them to do those things. "Americans are raising a generation of children 'with extremely low levels of competence in domestic skills... Teenage boys do about the same as toddler boys, that's almost nothing. We call them free riders.' Two reasons are cited: one, that we're taking our kids to soccer games rather than doing chores; and two, 'There's a training component to many chores; you have to show kids how to make a salad or bake cookies. Sometimes it's just easier to do it ourselves.'"
Ahhhh... The whole easier and more efficient to do it myself was becoming my downfall. Right now Bridget wants to do everything that I'm doing and sometimes (not always) I've told her that I just need to hurry and get something done so we can do the next thing. The Parenting Breakthrough gave me serious pause. Now I stop what I'm doing and show her how to fold laundry, properly dust furniture, vacuum, sweep, etc. and she does it for me. It's not always a great job, but I leave it and it makes me happy.
Merrilee Boyack does a wonderful job breaking down how to accomplish your goal of having an independent, self-sufficient child. There are many suggestions, white board lists, family meetings, training sessions, etc. Now that I think of it as training, suddenly my patience level has risen. My kids have never seen or done this stuff before, why should I get frustrated when they don't do it perfectly the first time? Boyack also suggested looking back at the gaps in my own "training," which has also been helpful. My parents were thorough in many aspects - living the gospel daily, how to clean every part of the house, cooking for ten, good work ethic. On the other hand, they also left out how to handle finances, saving and investing money, how to care for and buy a car, having a plan when it came to college classes. Things my parents obviously knew how to do, but never got around to teaching me (really teaching) how to do it. I know what panic went through my veins when I found myself in college with no money and no idea how to get the enormous amount I needed in Rexburg, Idaho, where it was impossible to get a job. I'm going to have my kids start saving for college and missions right now!
There is so much more. Shelley and I have been sending epic emails back and forth on this subject. I've been empowered to be a vigilant parent and to train my kids well in every way that I can.
Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte
I asked one of my favorite people her favorite book. She sighed and said, "Jane Eyre." Believe it or not, I'd never read it. I thought March - super long March - would be the perfect time. Since it's officially a classic, it was FREE on my Kindle Fire. For real! (I found a treasure trove of really good books that are $2 or less for Kindles.) I always give books 100 pages to catch me and it took almost all 100 pages. Come on! Tell me more about Jane's forehead and the color of the sky outside, Charlotte Bronte!
Then something happened and all I wanted to do was read Jane Eyre. I'm glad we started with Jane's childhood and the vengeful heart she had leaving the Reed family. Jane's experiences with her sweet friend, Helen, at Lowood were the perfect way to teach Jane to value her virtue and faith in God above all else. That lesson comes in pretty handy when she finds out the man she loves (worships) and who worships her in return, is also married to a bat-crazy monster he keeps in the attic. The usual (?!). Edward Rochester (the man) begs Jane to be with him anyway. Who would be the wiser? They could move to France where no one would care even if they did know! "Hiring a mistress is the next worse thing to buying a slave: both are often by nature, and always by position, inferior: and to live familiarly with inferiors is degrading," says Rochester, somehow trying to make distinction between what he was suggesting they do and actually hiring a mistress. Samesies, man.
I love the thought process Jane has after this statement (btw, I know all of Jane's thoughts in this book - Bronte didn't leave any out): "I felt the truth of these words; and I drew from them the certain inference, that if I were so far to forget myself and all the teaching that had ever been instilled into me, as - under any pretext - with any justification - through any temptation - to become the successor of these poor girls, he would one day regard me with the same feeling which now in his mind desecrated their memory. I did not give utterance to this conviction: it was enough to feel it. I impressed it on my heart, that it might remain there to serve me as aid in the time of trial."
I cheered for Jane! She had a miserable childhood and no hope in a happy future except with Edward Rochester, but she would not give up her virtue at the possibility of attaining happiness. She knew it wouldn't be true happiness. Of course all ends appropriately, the Crazy Attic Wife ends up setting fire to Rochester's house (spoiler alert!) and jumping off the roof herself. Edward is blinded and loses an arm in the fire, the better for Jane to love him. (She's into ugly guys.) Oh, and Jane inherits a bunch of money, finds cousins who are practically perfect in every way, they split her fortune, and everyone is happy! I may sound sarcastic, but I really did enjoy it. Classic literature has a way of making me slow down and appreciate language. I love it when I have to look up words. I'm smarter for reading Jane Eyre.
The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
Hahahahaha! I finished Jane Eyre on the 29th of March. Since I only had two days to read a third book, I knew it had to be something easy and kind of brainless. I started The Hunger Games and had to get all the rules straight (dangit! I hate that about science fiction - so many rules to the alternate universes). It was interesting to think about what I might do if I couldn't go to a store to get food when I needed it and I liked Peeta's struggle to stay himself in the face of being forced to kill other teenagers for sport to a televised audience.
Seriously! What is this book?! It's so macabre. And it's for teenagers?! Oh, yes. The romantic entanglements and the Girl not believing the Guy is really loving her. COME ON. Every woman in the universe knows when a guy is crushing on her. That's the kind of baloney you'll only find in YA fiction - the girl who doesn't realize how awesome she is and that all the boys secretly like her. I also absolutely disliked that there are two boys to fight over Katniss Everdeen. Never be Twilight. NEVER.
All can be forgiven because I would have been INTO this book when I was 13. I will admit that. Going from Jane Eyre to The Hunger Games made a loser out of The Hunger Games, though.