The Parents' Review
A Monthly Magazine of Home-Training and Culture
"Education is an atmosphere, a discipline, a life."
By the Way
"How is it possible to get any rest? I am always wanted--the interruptions are so incessant--by the end of the day I am quite used up." We mothers say this already, and when the Parents' Review has made us feel still more how great are our responsibilities, shall we feel it less? "If all the world would but agree to know a little less"--a sentiment of a schoolboy which still in these days of progress escapes from us sometimes, at any rate with regard to "doing." We are in danger of being frittered away by the pressure of "small things." But may I mention one small practical experiment to which, more than to any doctor, I believe I owe a rescue from the edge of the precipice. It is very simple. Tie a handkerchief on the handle of the door. Why should it be the privilege only of men to "sport your oak"? It is the feeling of being always "on duty" which is driving us to despair. But let it once be clearly understood by servants and children that rest is the just and rightful claim of the mother, and the signal will be respected. The little pattering feet will trip softly by. The servants will turn and manage for themselves. In a dark, still room the ragged ends of life will be knitted up, and the jagged nerves will recover themselves, and at the next family meal "Mother has had her rest" will be a thought to bring gain and not loss.
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The point upon which I would say a few words is one which concerns all thinking mothers.
In small families the feeling of indefinite nervous fear in young children is sometimes stronger than in families of eight or ten.
I have myself the clearest recollection of a certain Sunday night when the old nurse was allowed to go out, and the most reliable female servant--the cook--agreed to sit in the nursery till we fell asleep. There were only two of us in that London nursery--I was five and my younger sister three; she soon fell asleep, but I was haunted all night by the tales the cook told me. She held my little hand in hers, and gently informed me of people who entrapped little children and killed them, and then their bones were made into castor oil! This old-fashioned medicine had an honoured place in our nurse's cupboard, and in silent trembling I wondered if I should ever be called upon to assist with my bones in dosing other children! The cook was an excellent woman, and thought she was really amusing me.
It is not the really neglected children who suffer most: it is those of a quiet, reticent disposition, who do not easily speak to their best friends, and who, while they are happily cared for in every other respect, feel that they will be laughed at if they express a fear.
Two little boys, one five and the other seven, suffered from nervous terrors at night, a constitutional weakness. They slept in two little beds facing a window, where stood an old walnut tree. Here the birds nested, and after the children were long in bed one summer's night, the younger was found sitting up with a most disturbed and anxious face. He said in a shaky voice, "Willie, do you hear that beastly mother bird?" "Yes," said Willie laconically; he hated the sound, too. The mother went in and closed the window, then the children fell asleep. No one laughed at what was simply an unlikeable noise to the children; it was well to remove it, not mentioning the matter.
A little girl of eleven, well-known to me, was suddenly removed from her country home, and from many dogs who were most dear to her. All these dogs went to comfortable homes, but no one, in the confusion, thought of giving particulars to the dear child, who was almost one with the dogs; so much so that a fox terrier mother, who bit anyone else at the time, allowed this little girl to carry her puppies about.
Well, the child went straight off to the house of a relative, where there were many other children. All went well in the week, but every Sunday Dolly was taken to church, and as regularly she said she felt ill, and went out soon after service had commenced. Complaint of this was sent to her mother, who could nowise understand it. When the little girl went back to her mother in London, she was simply told to get ready for church--and went without a word, but became quite white and ill directly the service commenced. Her mother took her home, and quietly questioned her. After a struggle the child said, crying bitterly, "Mother, I can't forget my dogs. The minute the organ begins it brings it all back to me. I didn't want to make you sorry, but I can't forget the dear dogs!"
The moment the mother understood, she wrote to friends who could get the latest information of the pets so mourned, and when satisfying information was imparted to Dolly, she gained health and spirits:--her over-sensitive heart had made her repress all feeling when parting with the dogs, lest she should grieve her mother--and for two months she told her trouble to no one.
Let mothers guard the nervous and sensitive--not to foster these weaknesses, but by good comradeship to overcome them.
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"The woman's power is not for rule, not for battle, and her intellect is not for invention or creation; but for sweet ordering, arrangement, and decision." --Ruskin
Typed by COMama, Sept 2015
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