Saturday, November 21, 2020

Babbling Botkin: "What If My Husband Dies?" - Part Nine


We survived the first week of distance learning with Spawn!  

I do not want to homeschool my kid - but during a global pandemics - needs must.   Thankfully, he's young and doing fine on traditional literacy and numeracy skills so I can use most of the time to focus in on PT and OT skills.   I do some skills most mornings that way Spawn has a little more consistency in a world that has changed a lot from his point of view.  This morning - which is Saturday in case this takes me longer than a day to write - we went outside to plant some daffodil bulbs. 

Does anyone else wonder what percentage of floral bulb exports end up being thrown out or composted after sitting in someone's car or front entry way for nine months?  Is that just me? 

Anyways, I had picked up a pack of 35 ruffled pink/white daffodils in September and managed to bring them in from my car before they were roasted or frozen.   Spawn declared that he was a farmer and managed to do a very respectable job of moving dirt around considering my hoe and shovel are adult-sized and Spawn's an average sized nearly four-year old.     I thought he'd be willing to touch the bulbs but balk at touching dirt.  I was totally wrong; he handed me a few bulbs, then made a dash for the dirt which he played with quite happily.     After we got them planted, he and I moseyed our way over to look at the cows and the skid steer that was cleaning out the barn.   I figure both of those are plenty of PT work - doubly so since the tools required a lot of balance practice and motor planning - and we'll get some OT work in by coloring, taking beads out of playdough or doing a puzzle later today.

The bit that turned out to be more exhausting than I expected was keeping track of the one virtual class meeting, one virtual small group meeting, one in-person PT meeting and one in-person Speech/OT meetings on top of our usual schedule of events.    I felt like I was always on the move during a week where I had more hours than usual at work - but I think that will settle itself out with time.

We are over halfway through Geoffrey Botkin's video monologue titled "What If My Husband Dies?"  The last section was about how critically important it was for boys to be around their fathers to learn how business works.  Boys also have to be around their dads at work to learn diligence, perseverance and skills.   Apparently, there's no other way to learn these skills outside of shadowing your father at his self-owned business.  Nope.....the rest of us are out of luck.  :-)

Onward to the next jarring moment:
[00:09:34] So all boys need to be getting everything they can from their fathers in the way of character by watching them in every single age of life.  If your sons do lose their father try to find some way the mentoring process can continue with other responsible men in your community.  Now, that's, that's a hard ask, I know.  But as long as you're getting to know men and - maybe you and your husband can even talk about it - who are the kind of men you would like your sons to be around?
 Wait - exactly how isolated is the proper CP/QF wife and mother?

Doesn't she know men from her church or her home business or her family?   

I would view a male relative as a safer bet for a long-term mentoring process than some guy this woman is just starting to get to know in her community.    I don't mean that as a "Any guy interested in a fatherless kid is a predator" way; it's just that families tend to stay in contact with each other over decades more effectively than people in the same church or neighborhood do.

The woman can certainly talk with her husband now - but this isn't going to be something that he can plan in great detail prior to his death.    Life circumstances change over time.  Elder Joe is a great guy today - but in five years, he's going to have to move across the country for work and comes back once a decade after that.   At the same time, the mom is going to meet a really nice older woman at her job who takes her under her whole family under her wing.  They never planned it that way - but the coworker's husband teaches her boys lots of important lessons about doing what is right while taking them fishing.

Keep your sons around kind men.  That's the most important lesson - taking time to help out others who are in need.

 [00:10:03]  You know, really good responsible men who might take an interest in them and take them under their wings and help them learn and grow and prosper and develop.  So, this,  this really practical point I'm going to make is this: keep your eye open in your community for honorable men of character who might be able to do short apprenticeships with your sons as they get older.
How old are these kids again?   

This is excellent advice if your sons are in their teens and an exercise in futility if your kids are under 5.

Now - this is some crazy talk, I know - but your regional public school district may well have access to concurrent training in various trades for high school students.   

Plus, if the woman lives in an area with a history of unionizing, there are very likely trade unions or trade halls that offer paid training in skilled trades.   We are so short on skilled trades in Michigan that the local combined services hall that does training in HVAC, steamfitter/pipefitter, plumbing, and welders offers free apprenticeship classes combined with a $24,000 a year stipend.  Apprentices take classes in the morning and work for local contractors in the afternoons and so have ready-made connections for a job after they've become journeymen.

There's really no need to reinvent the wheel while dealing with a major loss.  

[00:10:27]  I've, you know , I've brought in some guys who do apprenticeships.  I've let my..... a couple of my sons go out and do apprenticeships with really good older and trustworthy men and you know it's to provide them some of the skills that I might not have been able to give them.  It's been good for them and it was a good experience.  They weren't very long periods of time. Maybe just a few months and then and then back home again.  Maybe a couple of years and then back home again but it's it's uh it's something that can really help.
I'm fascinated about the idea of sending a young man to do an internship with Botkin.   What exactly would he learn?   How to write bizarre blog articles about British politics?  How to use the more popular writings of your daughters to keep the family finances afloat?   

There's a weirdly long pause as Botkin tries to remember his kids going on apprenticeships. Yet, Noah or Lucas had to have learned CNC methods from someone.  Presumably Ben got some guidance in composition from someone.  But both of those apprenticeships - if they happened - were ones where Geoffrey Botkin wasn't the central focus so it's all a blur for him.

 How long is the apprenticeship?  A few months is very different from a few years.  Is this some kind of weird open-ended contract?  "Your son will remain in my home until I feel he has correctly articulated how to start, undermine and lose a media station.  This process could take anywhere from 30 minutes to 3 years.  Please bring your own camera, computer, appropriate clothing and a 3 month supply of weaponry."

The important thing, though, is that your kid comes home again.  No one is allowed to separate from the home commune.   Even if you get a few years of freedom - you must come home!   

My two-cents: If the LW has not done so, get her kids enrolled in a public school this spring when they reopen.  If her husband makes it through COVID, the kids can go back to homeschooling.  If he dies, at least the kids won't be dealing with entering a new school while grieving.   

I know of where I speak; the most common cause for my former homeschooled students to end up in my classroom was the death of their mother.   It's so terribly hard to reacclimate to a traditional school while grieving; enrolling the kids in school as soon as it is safe would at least mitigate that stressor.

Good luck - and don't ask Botkin for advice.

Friday, November 20, 2020

Maxwell Mania: The emotional importance of dogs compared to sisters

 I've left Sarah Maxwell's Moody Book series well enough alone on this blog because the PDF's are mind-numbingly boring.   

If you overlook the complete lack of characterization, conflict or character arc, you are left with repetitive, derivative sermons.    That's understandable.  Since Sarah Maxwell has stuck to writing what she knows, monotony interspaced with sanctimony has birthed ten dull children's books 

On the other hand, we all need a hobby and writing books where being completely unobjectionable trumps interest is certainly fills time better than wondering what the next 50 years of being one of three spinster virgin aunts does.   

Sarah Maxwell, however, has spun off into the "Hill Top Adventures" series of books.   Rather than sticking to mundane Maxwellian topics like "Oh, no!  Our pet sitting client has a rat rather than a dog!", she's moving into deep waters.    

The first book "Finding Change" involves a child's move, the father's potential loss of a job, the main character feeling bad that she's not a super-Christian like her neighbor and refusing to ever forgive her Aunt Nicole for accidentally killing her little sister. 

 Surprise! There's nothing like a cliff hanger to keep people reading! 

Except....this isn't a soap opera.  Emma is gonna forgive Aunt Nicole because otherwise Emma would be a horrible person.  Accidentally killing your niece is bad - but the real crime is lack of forgiveness!

Her newest book "Learning Lessons" combines an instantly forgettable title with this charming plot line:

Emma’s world takes on a new sparkle now that she’s a Christian and learns to forgive Aunt Shannon for the accident that took her little sister’s life. But trouble is brewing with Landlady over Taffy.

The autumn days fly by with adventures at the coffee shop job, helping with Hunter’s leaf business, Hill Top’s city-wide yard sale, and a day at the library. All the while, tension builds with Landlady, and when Emma is faced with her biggest fear, what will she do?

Now, I'm not planning on reading either of these ever - but I'd be much more likely to if there's a huge plot twist when Emma finds out that Aunt Shannon really accidently killed her sister instead of Aunt Nicole......but I doubt it.   That kind of twist requires being allowed to read fiction books or watch films or see plays - and the Maxwells do not do any of those things.   

Instead, we've got a copy error?  A sloppy confusion of character names?

I really truly did lose a much loved little brother to a medical misdiagnosis of septic shock thirty four years ago.   I've spent a lot of time in my life processing the loss of David and looking at how that tragedy affected and affects my life.    

Maybe it's because I'm not the right kind of Christian - but I can't write a sentence that includes the word "sparkle" and the mention of a child's death.   

Actually, that's probably because I write what I know.  I'd probably make equally crazy mistakes if I tried to write a children's story about giving out religious tracts. *rolls eyes*

I also loved my pets very, very much - but my parents were great at making sure we could keep the animals we adopted in our homes before we adopted them.  

Emma's parents - on the other hand - apparently don't have a lease....or decided to get a dog against the lease....or won't move if the landlady changes their lease at the next renewal.....or simply suck at adulting.

At least my parents recognized that my anxiety around change and loss stemmed from my brother dying.   Poor Emma seems stuck with two non-parents and a manically cheerful theology which is a pretty sad commentary on how she was raised.  

Poor thing.  Poor things, really, because Anna and Sarah can't feel great about learning that the thought of giving up Ellie.... I mean....Taffy...... is more stressful than either of them dying. 

Writings give us glimpses into the author's soul.   I'm very frightened of what the Maxwells have done to their kids. 

Friday, November 13, 2020

The Battle of Peer Dependency: Chapter Four - Part Nine


Wow, did life get busy on me!  Jeepers.

A week and a half ago, my son's school had one student test positive for COVID.   Contact tracing determined that a few kids in the class should quarantine, but other than that everything was fine.  

Early this week, one teacher and another student in a different classroom tested positive.  This put 58 kids and 7 staff members out on quarantine.    I ordered a few books online for my son since I figured homeschooling would start soon.

Right now, substitute teachers can't be gotten for love or money.   High income districts that could take their pick of subs can't get a single sub to cover; a rural, fairly high poverty district like my son had no chance at finding 7 subs.    

Monday, we found out my son's pre-K - 4th grade school was closing on November 11th  until November 30th to try and contain the outbreak.    Public opinion was mixed - but a vocal minority wanted the rest of the district closed as well.   The majority of people seemed to think the school was overreacting - but then cases appeared at the other schools.  Now everyone is virtual only until after Thanksgiving.  Mask wearing is still not as widespread in my community as I'd like to see - but I see masks now - which I often did not before.

I've got a bunch of materials from the school - plus a section on "Weather" I've made for my son since he's been our family's weatherman for six months now.   He found the "Weather" felt board I made for him and realized that I missed "Thunder" and "Fog" - so I've got to make those up tonight.   

So if my posts get less regular, I'm probably taking a walk with my kid talking about clouds....or doing PT on some playground equipment.....or practicing patterning.   I hope the school will reopen for a bit before Christmas Break - but our case numbers in Western Michigan have become dangerously high so I'm planning for a few weeks to a few months of classes at home.   

In fun news, Spawn will try using forearm crutches next week!  He's been showing plenty of strength while walking, but still needs help with balance.   He also wants to venture off of paved paths.  So far, he's been muscling his walker over uneven ground - but he can only do that on fairly flat ground.  Forearm crutches should give him better freedom to explore the world - and I'm very, very excited about it!

I'm excited about my son gaining more freedom of movement so reading "The Battle of Peer Dependency" by Marina Sears feels more crazy every time I open the book.   In the next quote, Mrs. Sears - who homeschooled her kids - demonstrates poor understanding of teenage motivations alongside a profound misunderstanding of the use of person in the English language:
Listening to young people dependent upon their peers the greed of self and the fulfillment of personal agendas can clearly be seen. A parent might hear, "But, I don't want to go. I have other plans. My friends and I are just going to play volleyball. Everyone else is going." Count the number of I's in the next conversation you have with your young person to see if they are following the direction God has given to you as a family, or if they are "pecking" at that direction. (pg. 57-58)
 How is playing volleyball with friends more selfish and greedy forcing your children to be living examples of God's Providence to widows and orphans?    Dumping that burden on your kids is cruel.  In the last four years, I've been amazed by the kindness, love, generosity and compassion afforded to me and my son.   I'm grateful for those acts of caring.   I don't force my kid to be a walking advertisement for God's Love, though!   He's almost four - and he's quite happy being a dinosaur, thank you very much.   Spawn also likes being a firetruck - so I'm pretty solid that he's doing what God wants a preschooler to do - be a kid.

Teenagers, like preschoolers, are learning how the world works as nearly-adults.  Most homeschooling families allow their teenagers to spend time with other teenagers.  Teenagers, after all, are going to spend their lives with people of their age cohort as they form families, raise children, and work.  Letting teenagers find out how people their own age interact is good parenting.   

Forcing teenagers to remain ensconced in their family of origin means that the parent is sacrificing the future of their kids for the wants of the parents.    

Counting the number of times a teenager says "I" in a conversation is a poor sign of the greed or selfishness of the kid.  It just means the kid is speaking first-person which is normal for native English speakers.

The last quote for this post shows how Mrs. Sears has moved the goal posts of success for her kids beyond God's requirements:
Upon studying the Scriptures, the root problem of peer dependency became very clear. As I looked at the lives of my children, there seemed to be little difference between them and children being reared in homes without God. Many young people without God have themselves on the throne of their lives. They seek activities, materialism, or various forms of stimuli: such as drugs, alcohol, and sex to fill the void of God and the desire to fit in. My children were saved, and on their way to heaven, and even though their activities were seemingly innocent and moral, self and pleasure where the center of their focus. The salvation experience is just beginning for every person. Allowing God to be the Lord of one's life is the essence of the Christian walk. One of the greatest struggles facing me was in the understanding that my sons had trust in Christ as their savior, but not as the Lord of their lives. My plea to the Lord was to find out if there was anything I could do to help them love Jesus more. Can one individual do anything to change another's heart? As a parent, having a good, saved, moral child was not my goal. Having children who were " Mighty in God's spirit" was what I as a parent was trying to achieve. (pg. 58)
 John 3:16 says that God so loved the world that he gave his only beloved son so that whoever believes in him may not die but have eternal life.

Marina Sears' sons had fulfilled that mandate. 

They were saved. 

They believed.  

God accepted Chris and David - but that is not good enough for their mother.   

God gave us ever so many innocent, moral pleasures.  Going for walks.  Chatting with friends.  Playing volleyball.   There is, in fact, no section of the Bible that forbids volleyball - even if the people playing volleyball are teenagers.     

No, Marina Sears is creating a dictatorship where her whims are justified as making "Mighty Warrior" - but that's not what God asked of parents.

Tuesday, November 3, 2020

Babbling Botkin: "What If My Husband Dies?" - Part Eight

 Fall has been fun.

My son is old enough that we got him into a Halloween costume for the second time in his life.  We dressed him up as an elephant when he was 11 months old.  At nearly two and nearly three, he flipped out at the idea of being dressed in a costume.   This year, he enjoyed being a "fire dog" when he dressed up as one of the characters from Paws Patrol.  

For the first time ever, I did all of my fall chores for my garden during the fall!  Crazy, I know - but I do like knowing that the past production plants are turning into compost as we speak.   

This next section in "What If My Husband Dies" by Geoffrey Botkin published on his YouTube channel gives a great example of privilege-blindness in CP/QF and how said blindness leads to horrible advice:
[00:08:33] I knew a.....knew a man who was a big executive at a large uh IT firm.  And he didn't have any time with his family. He realized that was wrong. He totally quit.  He came home and what he started with his boys.  He was making a lot of money at this job, this corporate job.  He started a small engine repair company with his boys.  Just so they could be with their dad.  The dad could be with the boys.  They could learn about business.  They could learn about good customers, grumpy customers, dishonest customers um difficult challenges, hard jobs, good work ethic.  And it it didn't make a whole lot of money but it made enough money,  But it gave those boys a powerful legacy and inheritance of wisdom and knowledge of how you do business.  And so by the time they were teenagers, and then older teenagers, they have a lot of knowledge practical knowledge about how how you do business in the real world with imperfect people.  That's really valuable.  So all boys needs to be getting everything they can from their fathers in the way of character by watching them at every single age of life.
When faced with so many assumptions in one place, I think the best option is to move sentence by sentence for discussion.   

Botkin knew a guy who was a "big executive" at a large IT firm.   What does that mean?  Was he a C-level executive or a manager?   How much was the man making a year?  How long had he been working at this large IT firm at a high rate of pay?  Did his earnings include access to company stock?  All of this matters because the total risk in starting a small business depends a lot on the owner's assets prior to starting the business.  Botkin's acquaintance had a small risk in starting a business since he had high income potential customers he knew from his former job plus a salary with stock options that he could leverage to set up the business and pay for his family's needs while the new business grew.

Compare that to a young married man from a cash-strapped CP/QF family or a man with 4 sons and COPD in the middle of a pandemic.......

I find the idea that the man  who had the soft skills needed to be an executive "totally quit" without having a solid plan in place.   I'd bet good money that the man planned out his exit strategy so that he was ramping up his business while working at his former employer prior to leaving.

We can safely assume this is not an option for the family writing Botkin for advice.  If they had the resources to weather the possible untimely death of the father, the wife would not be writing to Botkin.

The idealized dad set up his own small engine repair business.  Granted that the father probably had a non-compete agreement with his former company - this is still a rather huge change of career on top of starting a business.  Where did he get the cash for all of the tools and materials he needed for that?  How much start-up money did this take? How long had the father been doing small engine repair as a hobby or for personal use before he started this business?  Please tell me that he didn't quit his job randomly and start a business in an area he had no experience in; that's a horrible trope in CP/QF stories that rarely ends well in real-life.  Where did he get customers from?   How did he market his business?  How much did marketing cost upfront?   

There's no way most CP/QF men could leverage a full small engine repair business from scratch; it's just too much risk for a bank to take without assets or income.  How the letter writer in the video would pull this off is beyond me.  

The business also managed to make "enough" money without making "a lot" of money.  That construction leaves the change in economic status wide open.  A small family who was willing to drop in economic status from upper middle class to average middle class may well be fine on a small income from the business plus assets acquired prior to leaving corporate life.   A larger family who lived frugally and saved a lot might not notice the difference if they tapped into savings until the business got going.  The problem comes when faced with the reality of CP/QF families.  Most of these families are not making "enough" money to start with.   They can't afford to lose any part of their current income stream because they don't have enough left over to put money away or acquire much in assets.   Their most likely asset is their home - and betting a house on a business venture is a bad idea.  The LW is presumably in that category and cannot afford to fund a business while increasing her husband's risk of infection to COVID-19.

The weirdest bit to an outsider is Botkin's implication that the executive-turned-small-engine-mechanic's kids had a huge leg up on other kids because they understood business from watching their dad.   Plenty of other kids understand how business works thanks to getting a retail or food service job as a teenager.   Those jobs will teach a teen plenty about customer service and problem-solving skills.  Now, the teenager will not be involved directly in the nuts and bolts of making staffing choices or seeing how various actions affect margins - but every place I've ever worked will explain at least the rationale behind how those choices are made.   Equally important in my eyes is the reality that the teenager will be watching how a successful business is run.   In a family business, the teenager might be watching a successful business - or watching his father flail around because he's missing the real problems and solutions in his business.

All of this seems to have turned out well for Botkin's acquaintance - if he existed - but a single anecdote is poor support for risking everything a family has.

Good luck - and don't write to Botkin for advice.