Being What We Want to See: What a Bag of Peaches Taught Me About Parenting

My parents had just come home from a farmer’s market and noticed an extra bag of peaches.

“You have to take these back,” my mom told my dad. “We have kids. We can’t keep something we didn’t pay for.”

My mother had put her finger on an essential truth: Kids absorb the values they see adults putting into action.

Ever notice how quickly kids spot any inconsistency between what we say and what we do? Long before kids can spell “hypocrisy,” they notice when our actions fall short of our words.

“Don’t worry that children never listen to you; worry that they are always watching you,” author Robert Fulghum says.

Kids need to see us “walking the talk.”

In fact, we teach kids best when we practice “being what we want to see” in them.

If you volunteer in your child’s school, you might have noticed that skillful teachers practice “being what they want to see” in their students.

These teachers foster respect by speaking respectfully to their students, even when correcting them. They teach self-control by sticking to “indoor voices” in the classroom, especially in situations that could provoke angry shouting.

“Being what we want to see” isn’t always easy – though perhaps it’s easier with other people’s children!

At home one day, I found myself shouting “STOP YELLING!” at the top of my lungs. I caught the inconsistency between my words and behavior about two seconds before my child commented on it.

Our example powerfully influences our children’s character development.

If we vent our anger through yelling, put-downs or sarcasm, that’s how our kids will learn to handle their anger.

I once heard a preschool teacher say that by listening to the children, she could tell exactly how their mothers spoke to their husbands!

If we respond to unpleasant situations with kindness, self-control and respect, then our kids will learn that.

Not all at once, and not perfectly. But surely.

And that extra bag of peaches?

Soon after my dad left to return them, the phone rang.

“We stopped by, but you weren’t home,” my grandmother said. “Did you get the bag of peaches we left you?”

We all shared a big laugh when my dad got home. And to this day, whenever a clerk makes an error in my favor, I remember the peaches

© Norma Schmidt, LLC

The Gemstone Education – Sapphire – The Jewel of Sky

Sapphire has been sought after for thousands of years as the ultimate blue gemstone. The ancient Persians believed that the earth rested on a giant sapphire that gave its blue reflection to the sky, hence the Latin name “Sapphiru”, which means blue.

The gem has long symbolized faith, remembrance, and enduring commitment. According to tradition, God gave gave Moses the Ten Commandments on tablets of Sapphire, making it the most sacred stone. This supposed “divine Favor” is why Sapphires often were the gem of choice for kings and high priest throughout history. In fact, the British crown Jewels contains a number of notable Sapphires. Prince Charles even gave Princess Diana a Sapphire engagement ring.

Sapphire is the birth stone for month of September. It is also the gem that is recommended for married couples who are celebrating their 5th and 45th wedding anniversaries.

Both Sapphire and its sister stone, Ruby, are part of the corundum family, one of the strongest minerals on earth. The stone is mined in many parts of the world, including Australia, Cambodia, China, Kashmir, Kenya, Madagascar, Myanmar, Nigeria, Sri Lanka, Tanzania, Thailand, the United States, and Vietnam. Sapphires from Kashmir and Myanmar are rarest and most prized, because of their vivid blue and velvety look.

Although Sapphire is virtually synonymous with blue, the stone comes in variety of fancy colors that includes colorless white, pink , yellow, peach, orange, brown, violet, purple, green, and many shades in between; except red, because a red Sapphire would be called a Ruby. Some Sapphires that are cut s cabochon, dome, shape even display a six rayed white star. These are called Star Sapphires, and the ancient regarded them as powerful talismans that protected travelers.

Like other gemstones, color is the main determining factor when judging the value of a Sapphire. As a rule, the most valuable Sapphires have a medium intense, pure vivid blue color and hold the brightness of their color under any type of lighting. Any color undertones, usually black, gray or green, will reduce stone’s value. Although a pastel stone would be less valued than a deeper blue one, it would be more valuable than a stone considered too dark. In selecting a Sapphire, keep in mind that the finest stones are “eye clean”, with little or no inclusions, flaws, visible to the unaided eye.

Sapphire is readily available in sizes of up 2 carats, but gems of 5-10 carats are not unusual. The stone is most often cut in a Cushion Shape, a rounded rectangle, or an Oval. Smaller stones are available in round brilliant cuts and a variety of fancy shapes, such as triangle, square, emerald, marquise, pear, baguette, cabochon and other shapes.

Some of the more noted Sapphires included the Logan Sapphire, a 423 carats Cushion Cut gemstone fro Sri Lanka currently in the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D. C., and a 258 carats stone set in the Russian crown and kept in the Diamond Fund in Moscow.

With a hardness of 9 on the Mohs scale, Sapphire is harder than any other gemstone except a diamond. This quality makes it extremely durable for everyday jewelry pieces subject to repeated impact, such as rings and bracelets. In general, Sapphire can be cleaned with soapy water or commercial solvent and a brush.

It is estimated that 90% of Sapphires on the market today have been heated to maximize their color and clarity. This process is permanent and commonly stable. Perfect natural, untreated gems are exceptionally rare and very expensive. Some colorless or pale stones are treated with chemicals, diffusion treated, which improves the surface color only. This could create a problem if the stone is ever chipped or nicked and needs to be re-cut or re-polished. In additional, some fancy colored Sapphire is irradiated to give it a more intense shade. These effects are temporary and can fade in light or heat.

Diversity In The Classroom

I was talking with a friend last week about the private school that her 2 boys attended & she informed me that she had withdrawn them at the end of last school year and they now attended public school. When I asked what brought about the change, she told me “The teachers at their previous school told them (when doing are projects) ‘We only color the people in our pictures peach.’ ” My friend, a forward thinking intelligent mom, told her children to follow the rules at school but while at home, she encouraged her children to do artwork and to color their people all different shades because as she put it “The world is full of people of all different colors.”

This got me to thinking. When we take our children to school, we assume that we are placing them in the very best care. We believe that the teachers that interact with them on a daily basis are teaching them about equality and being open-minded when in reality, that may not be the case. Teachers are human and bring with them into the classroom, their own set of prejudices. How so we know that they aren’t passing them on to our children?

A culturally literate teacher can make all the difference when working with children on the concepts of diversity & racial tolerance. An educator that celebrates differences helps to increase students’ self-esteem and self-worth and helps to teach children about these differences in a non-judgmental way. Unfortunately, there are some schools, administration and teachers who fall short of this mark.

What should we as parents be on the lookout for? How can we tell is our child’s teacher is ready to take on this open-minded way of teaching?

1. Look for signs in their classroom: Do they have pictures, quotes or artwork representing all cultures and populations?

2. Check out their teaching style: Do they encourage healthy, open discussions and questions about cultural perspectives and topics?

3. Examine the school curriculum: Do the lesson plans fit all types of students? Does it focus on one particular gender, race or religion more than another?

4. Ask the students: 45% of all children in the US are ethnic minorities. Do they feel excluded? Do they feel safe sharing things about themselves in the classroom?

5. Take a look at your child’s homework or text books: Are there units or chapters devoted to all ethnicities? Do they look at History or social issues from different cultural perspectives?

Most teachers are good people trying to do their jobs in the best way possible; dealing with school overcrowding, budget cuts and the like. If your child’s classroom does not answer with a resounding “yes!” to the above questions, you don’t have to make a rush to pull them from school. These are merely suggestions for the optimal learning for our children and if your child’s school or teacher can provide even just a few of the suggestions, they are better off for them.

We should of course, be teaching children morals and their belief system at home, but with teachers having a large influence over behavior for a good portion of their day, we do have some cause for concern if they are teaching things that we don’t want them to learn. The world is made up of students of all different colors, shapes, and sizes and we need to find educators that encourage communication about differences while demonstrating that these differences do not equate to any one group or person being better than any other. We should be concerned when our teachers tell our children to “only color people peach” and we should applaud those that inspire, motivate and empower children of all colors.

Scholarship For Mothers Program – Private Foundations For Women Offer Educational Financial Aid

Having to take care of the children on her own is the biggest challenge a single mother could ever face. Raising them up would mean she has to work full time to earn money and provide at least the essential and basic needs of her children. This can be tougher, especially if they would want to go back to school to improve their careers and find a more rewarding job. All of these are for a mother’s wish to give her children a brighter future.

Aside from the Federal grants and loans given by the government to help out single mothers, there are also private groups and foundations that offer scholarship programs. Below are some of the well-established scholarship programs for moms:

Accounting Scholarships for Women in Transition

This scholarship program is offered to women who are the only source of support for their families. This scholarship offers up to $16,000 over 4 years to those who are taking up accounting degree.

American Association of University Women Career Development Grants

For those mothers who would like to advance their careers and pursue master’s degree, second bachelor’s degree or would like to undergo specialized training can apply to this scholarship program. It offers $2,000 to up to $12,000 worth of scholarship grants.

Women’s Independence Scholarship Program (WISP)

WISP offers educational aid for formerly battered women to provide them a suitable job to support themselves and their kids. To be an eligible candidate in this program, one should be enrolled in an accredited program of community schools, colleges or universities.

Philanthropic Educational Organization (PEO)

This organization offers several scholarship programs for mothers. One of which is the Program for Continuing Education, who offers up to $2,000 scholarship grants. STAR Scholarship Pilot Programs, on the other hand, can give up to $2,500 for high school seniors who wanted to pursue post secondary education. Foreigner students who are pursuing graduate studies in US and Canada are also eligible for scholarship programs and can be awarded up to $10,000 through International Peach Scholarship.

These are a number of scholarships for mother program offered by other organizations. You can find more online as well as on news papers and periodicals. Though not all are lucky enough to get in a scholarship, never stop until you find one. Keeping the scholarship for single moms may be tiring but is always worth the effort.