On being cool

On being cool

I’ve just discovered another cool homeschooling/mom blog, Blessed Among Men. (Thanks to Karen E.) And it was a bit of a strange and humbling experience to discover my own blog on her blogroll. I forget sometimes I have readers I don’t even know about. It still seems odd to me that anyone besides my mom and my sister read my blog.

Anyway, this post really spoke to me. I spent so much of my childhood worried about being uncool, worried about what other children thought of me, certain that when a group of girls was laughing and I wasn’t in on the joke, they were laughing at me.

I’m more and more certain that homeschooling is right for me. And this post points to yet another reason why I’m drawn to it. But what really grabs me is how she uses an experience in her home as a springboard for reflection and how far it takes her.

I thought a moment about how different I was at Simeon’s age. While I have many good memories of my elementary school years in the public school system, it seems I remember being fully aware of what was cool and what was not cool. I remember, also, being aware of who was cool and who was not cool. The pressure to conform to these standards of coolness only grew stronger in later years, but it was already present in the third grade and beginning to shape my thoughts and desires.

Simeon does not know anything about this pressure. He’s never learned to look down on children younger than himself (like I did) or despise the things that entertain them. Neither does he know the slang meanings of certain words (like I did) or that some people use these words to hurt others. In his world, the word gay means happy and I am happy it does. I am happy my boys have the freedom to express themselves freely and naturally. I’m happy that they do not feel pressure (like I did) to conform to standards that are not their family’s.

It is good to be in touch with one’s culture and to belong to a larger community, and I want that for my children. For now, however, I think our family, our large extended family, and very large pool of friends (both inside and outside the homeschooling crowd) is “larger community” enough for my young sons. And, unlike popular culture as it is most often found, our children really are loved and cared about by everyone in our larger community. They have every reason to feel that they will always belong and that they are unconditionally accepted here.

There will come a day when our community is no longer large enough for my children and they will need to find their way in the world. When that day comes, I hope we will have trained them well enough to know how to fit in without compromising what I hope will have become their own standards. It is with that day in mind that I will teach Simeon that gay, meaning happy, is no longer a word in common use and I will help him to find a few synonyms. Living a counter-cultural life of faith is difficult enough without adding unnecessary quirks that are bound to rub people the wrong way. I wouldn’t be doing my children any favors by completely neglecting to instruct them in a sense of style, speech, and manner that is somewhat in keeping with the larger culture to which we all belong.

So, while I readily and happily admit that we are not cool—as defined by many a third grader—I like to think that we are developing in our children a naturalness, a confidence, a sense of taste, and a more classic, more perennial style that will serve them well in any place or decade.

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  • Melanie, I’m so so sorry. Marc and I will pray for you, Dom, Bella, and of course especially for your little one. It’s awful and tragic and its so hard for many people to find the right words to say to you. When we didn’t want to talk about it, it was all anyone spoke of; and when we were ready to talk about it, everyone wanted to talk about anything but. We’ll especially continue to pray for you and your healing in the months ahead.

  • I am so very, very sorry, Melanie.  I know that my words would be completely inadequate when confronted with your loss, but that’s why God gave us prayer.

    Be assured of the most fervent prayers of me and my family…especially that of my kids.  There is nothing so efficacious as the clear-minded (and clear-hearted) prayers of little children.

    May God give you and Dom strength during this time of tribulation.  God Bless you all!

  • Melanie,
    I’m so sorry.  I had a miscarriage 25 years ago—as a nurse, in the recovery room, I see many women who have miscarriages—everytime I take care ot them—I start crying.  My heart aches for you—I will pray for you and your family.

  • Melanie,
    So sorry to hear of your loss.  I just recently came to know of your blog through reading a friend’s blog (bearing blog).  We’ve been through 3 miscarriages, the last 6 months ago.  It’s so hard, but what a blessing for you to have had nurse Mary to support you.

  • Melanie,
    I’m very sorry to hear this.  We’ll keep your family in our prayers.

    I had a miscarriage almost exactly two years ago, and although the pain really does subside, I’ll find myself tearing up about it every so often.  It’s most poignant when talking to women who’ve also had miscarriages.

    May Mary hold your little one in her arms.

  • So very sorry to hear of your loss. You are in my thoughts and prayers. I wish I could say it more eloquently, but words fail me where prayers never do.

    Your little one is not lost to you forever. I hope that helps, knowing that.

  • Melanie, you’re very courageous to share these details of some of the very most meaningful, painful and vulnerable parts of your personal life. I am sure that good will result from your courage.

    I am sorry for your loss, which can never be made up for in this world by this world’s values.

    I am impressed and inspired by your courage and faith. 


  • I’m so sorry for your loss Melanie.  Ditto on the casserole.  Just know that there is a sisterhood that knows and understands your grief and we weep with you. 

  • Melanie, I read your husband’s blog more than yours, but, of course, feel as though I know you both a little.  Your husband has mentioned a name… so I will pray for your little “Fran” who is in Mary’s arms with my “Jess” and “Casey”… the latter named by big sister who was four at the time.  Having a name does help.  We are praying for you.

  • I’m sorry for your loss.  I had 2 miscarriages when my daughter was 2.  You’re right, the amount of blood one can lose is scary!

    My daughter was old enough to explain to her that the baby just stopped growing in my belly.  I think she understood (well, maybe not).  wink

    Maybe the book Dom bought will be helpful/comforting to you too…


  • Melanie,
    I’m so sorry for you and your family.  My wife and I suffered through a miscarriage this summer (our first pregnancy), and we know the pain you are feeling.  We believe we had a daughter, and we named her Grace Elizabeth.  I hope she’s playing in heaven with your precious little one Fran.

  • Oh, Melanie,
    I am so terribly, terribly sorry. You and Dom have my prayers. I am so glad that that beautiful nurse, Mary, was there for you. I had an angel like that through one of my d&c’s, and she was such a blessing.

    Take care of yourself as you recover, and take as much time as you need to grieve … and please email me if you’d like to talk ….

  • I haven’t been reading blogs lately, so I’m very late to your pregnancy news, and now this sad update. I’m so very sorry, and I’m praying for you and Dom. I know God’s grace will keep you sustained, but it’s a loss that never quite goes away. I will pray to your little saint in heaven for your family.

  • Melanie: I am so sorry for your loss… I don’t know what to say other than I completely understand having had 3 miscarriages myself. It’s difficult to understand the loss of unborn children unless it’s happened to you. It’s very traumatic especially if you are excited and imagining another wonderful baby to love and a delightful addition to your family.

    Thank you for writing about your loss.

  • + I’m late to this, Melanie, but am praying for you and your family. I know the pain, though we all deal in our own way. What binds us, besides the normal blow, is the suffering attached to losing what most of the world doesn’t properly value. In that wise, it’s a poignant embrace of a particular cross, an opportunity to do penance in this way for a restoration of respect for all human life. The child is secure, and your grief combined with Mary’s is salvific. Prayers—and tears for your loss.

  • May you feel the comforting arms of our loving mother surrounding you and your family.
    In prayer for your needs…….

  • My husband and I, who lost our first a year ago tomorrow, are praying for you. May the Holy Family send you comfort!

  • Thanks to everyone. I wish I had time and energy to write to each one of you individually to express my deep gratitude for your prayers. Please know that I am remembering all of you in my prayers, both those who have written and those who have prayed and not commented.

    The peace of Christ which passes all understanding be with you all.


  • I haven’t read your blog in awhile and I don’t think it’s a coindence that I happened to do so tonight.  You will be in my prayers.  I had a miscarriage the first time I was pregnant and even though it was 18 years ago, I remember it like it just happened. 

    I got pregnant with my daughter (now 17+) right after that and though I often wonder about the first baby, my daughter wouldn’t have been born—would have been someone else—so it’s a big mind-boggling.

    And then I had Caleb at age 45, when I thought I was too old.  And then I had another miscarriage after him.  One thing about being pregant—you really get a vivid idea of what it means to be in God’s hands.

    I was lucky in that the doctor had warned me about the “black hole” of hormones about to descend on me, so I was somewhat prepared.  But what I remember most is the emotional whiplash.

    Like I said, you’ll be in my prayers.  Thanis for writing about all your blessings and therefore making me think about mine!

  • Mel, I don’t have the words to say exactly the right thing. I didn’t want that to stop me from writing and sending my love your way. I since such strength in your words. You are blessed by your strong faith and loving friends and family. Love, Cousin Wendy