For as long as I remember, I’ve been drawn to the youngest children in school. Now I’ve found that when it comes to seeing your own babies go off to school, that only gets multiplied.
Austin, who many of you recall as a newborn several years ago, has been going to preschool. As is our custom in our little country school, we had a four-week session of three days a week school for those who will be in first grade next term.
If you happen to be a mother, you know all about cutting apron strings when it gets to sending your children off that first morning. I did have my share to cut! But then, as I watched him trotting out the lane next to Julia, my heart overflowed; they really were so happy, both swinging a lunch bucket in hand. Really, I wouldn’t have it any different, even if I could change it! Then there were those little concerns, or should I call it worries? Worries like wondering if he’ll show proper respect to his teacher and whether he’s been taught enough manners. Knowing that my sunny boy is out of my hands and in the Lord’s, I lifted him in prayer time and again.
On that first afternoon, when he came home from school, he announced, “Mom, the whole day only seemed like 20 minutes!” Oh my, on my end, it seemed like the day would never end.
I gave him a giant hug—what a joy to see him so happy. Indeed, I want to do my part in helping him grow up and reach his goals. I don’t want him to have a hovering mama hanging on to him. My mind jumped ahead another year. I thought of sending Hosanna. No, that thought didn’t last long at all. I’ll take a year at a time, please.
While Austin is constantly looking for new things to learn, and I’ve been itching to teach him to read, we have decided it best not to get into reading too far. We want to keep him at the same pace as his classmates when school starts next fall. I explained to him that he can learn many other things. “Why Austin, you can even learn how to teach! You can help me by teaching your younger siblings things you have already learned.” Though he didn’t say much about my idea, it must have clicked. A day later, he found a money chart in storage. Gathering Hosanna, Jesse, and Elijah around him, he began explaining how the coins all look different and how many cents are in each one. From the kitchen where I was working, I quietly observed; indeed, raising children is worth it in more ways than one!
The younger children think Austin is quite grown-up since he’s been going to school. They were utterly fascinated when they went with me visiting the school as they watched Austin in his own little school desk.
While Amish folks don’t have kindergarten like public schools, we mothers teach the three and four-year-olds many basic concepts they would learn at school. I do not have specific hours where I have a school with them. Learning numbers, shapes, letters, and memorizing verses are sprinkled throughout the day as we look at books, color, play with bathtub toys, or drive down the road with the pony cart.
Tomorrow, the children will be helping me make four chicken casseroles. These casseroles will be used on Sunday evening for supper that will be followed by a hymn singing. This is what I call a “cheat casserole”; while we prefer to not use store-boughten soups, on infrequent occasions, I opt for it on a busy day. It really is a most delicious casserole. Daniel will be grilling the chicken.
Gloria’s “cheat chicken casserole”
6-8 skinless, boneless chicken breasts
2 cream of chicken soups
8 ounces sour cream
1 tube snack crackers
½ cup melted butter
2 cups shredded cheese
Mix together first three ingredients. Put in bottom of a 9 by 13 inch pan. Crush crackers and put over first mixture. Drizzle melted butter over crackers. Bake at 350 for 40 minutes. Sprinkle cheese on top, return to oven until cheese is melted.
Gloria Yoder is an Amish mom, writer, and homemaker in rural Illinois. Readers can write to Gloria at 10510 E. 350th Ave., Flat Rock, IL 62427.