Were you raised with the three R's? Are you raising your children with the three R's? I was, and I am (trying).
Ah... the three R's: Reading, wRiting, aRithmetic. Right? Well, these are commonly known as the three R's, but these aren't the three R's that I'm talking about right now. I'm talking about Respect, Responsibility, and Resourcefulness.
Respect (sn: courtesy)
My siblings and I were taught to be respectful of others. Respect for our friends, parents, 4-H leaders, classmates, teacher, people who disagree with us, the livestock on our farm, toys, etc., and most of all to have respect for ourselves. We were raised to live by the gold rule, which is simply treat others the way you want to be treated. The hardest part about that is when you treat people the way you want to be treated, but they don't give you the same kind of respect.
Since my son was under a year of age and started hitting and biting, we have been trying to instill this ethical code in him, in ways that he can understand for his age. The older he gets, the more he learns about this way of life. He is learning that it isn't nice to hit and why. He has learned to about share, and considering his age, I would (biasedly- yep, I make up words hehe) say that he does very well with this; things may change a bit though once his little sister starts playing with his tractors and trucks more.
Even now when he gets mouthy with his dad or me, we flat out tell him not to talk to us in such a manner (ie. "be nice"). He also tries bossing us around him sometimes. We tell him not to boss us in a way that he understands because he is NOT the boss of us; we are the boss of him.
Responsible (sn: accountable)
I was in 4-H growing up (LOVE 4-H). I showed market hogs, market sheep, breeding sheep, one bucket calf, and breeding beef at our county fair. I had at least one livestock project every year at the fair plus at least one project in the exhibit building (photography, food & nutrition, self-determined, etc.) I was involved with 4-H before I was even old enough to be a member because, with older siblings in 4-H, my entire family was involved with 4-H club activities (adopt-a-highway, trips to the zoo, etc.). Later in my 4-H years, especially when I had a driver's license, I became even more involved in leadership rolls (club president, camp counselor, etc.). Not only that, but I completed my record book each year and wrote thank you's to all of the business and individuals who purchased my livestock at the sale at the end of the fair.... -Did I mention that I LOVE 4-H? haha Perhaps I should write a post later all about 4-H.- My point of all of this is that I had many things to be responsible for growing up with 4-H, some was by choice and some wasn't.
Not only that, but once I could drive a car in high school I was involved with musicals and plays, tennis, and even was football manager. With all the responsibilities of extracurricular activities also comes the responsibility of making sure I completed all my homework and did the best I could in all of my classes.
We are currently teaching our two-year old about responsibility. Long before his second birthday, I started making him help pick up toys. Now, he not only picks up his toys but majority of his messes as well (spilt milk, permanent marker on the vinyl floor, etc.) When he manged to get ahold of the baby powder (we found out that day how great of a climber he is) and dumped basically the entire contents of the bottle around his room, I put his toys in the bathtub with him to clean off the baby powder. A couple weeks ago we even started telling him that if Mommy or Daddy picks up his toys/books after being told to pick them up, then they are "ours," and he has to do "chores" to get them back.
Resourceful (sn: ingenuis)
There again, 4-H played a part in this. I was given the opportunity multiple times to get creative and inventive with 4-H, mostly through the 4-H projects I had. Not only that, but I grew up with an artist. My mother dear (aka Grandma) is an extremely talented artist who has a knack for making art look real; no really, people think that the stones and boards that she painted on the walls in my house are real. Because of her and 4-H, I am the creative-type person that I am today. I am no Leonardo da Vinci, but currently I am working on a Wicked Witch of the East costume and Ninja Turtle costume for Halloween, from scratch.
Growing up, not only did we grow row crops and cattle, but we also had a garden. I often times, in my early childhood years, going out to the garden as a family to plant and pick produce. I remember going to the cattle lot and shucking our fresh Iowa sweet corn (the ONLY kind of corn to eat). I also learned about flowers as I would help my mom water all of her flower beds in the summer evenings.
My older sister and the girl who lived across the road and I would build tree houses in the grove of trees. We cut old branches, used old vaccine bottles for our "refrigerator" and "cupboards" made of of trees; these were not tree houses to climb into but to walk into.
I remember taking my walkman (remember those?) out into the tall grass, laying down in it, and just listen to my music. Of course, I ended up with a bunch of chigger bites later, which I don't remember, but my parent's remember me having them very vividly.
In a nutshell, we were given plenty of opportunities growing up to be creative, explore, and learn about the ways of the world, of nature, so that we could one day take care of ourselves. And we can. If one day there were suddenly no grocery stores or anything else and we would have to 100% depend on ourselves to survive then we could do it because we have those skills.
Today, I try teaching my son the same thing. Some day, he will go hunting with his dad and learn all there is to learn about that. On Father's Day this year, we went fishing and he actually reeled in the pole and caught himself multiple fish (using an adult's pole, not a children's fishing pole), and he is constantly talking about and pretending that he is going fishing.
Late this summer, on a hot day, I filled two containers up with some dirt and water, stripped him down, and let him go crazy. He had SO much fun playing in that mud, and now he just pretends that he plays in it.
He is such a creative child, the things he says and does. I love to hide outside his room and listen to him play. Honestly, the kid doesn't even need toys to be happy (of course he prefers to play with toys though) because he is perfectly content playing with sticks or watching the ants, cows, and butterflies. Just tonight, when I put him into bed he climbed up on his top bunk and said he was going to drive the tractor. For a while he would climb into our box of shoes by the door (after taking the shoes out) and say he was driving the tractor to hay cows, and he was then going to go to Grandma's house to see her kitty.
He is always saying, "I pretend...."
I know that in school around here they talk about the six pillars of character (trust, respect, responsibility, fairness, caring, citizenship), but I think all of those could just be wrapped up into the three.