DUTY TO ONESELF
“Yes, I should say you were distinctly precocious, and that you are almost certainly suffering from the effects of that early brilliancy. But the degree was not so great as to permanently injure you, especially if you see what is the matter, and guard against repeating the mistakes of your parents. I mean that you can now treat your own body and mind and nerves as you wish they had treated them. Pretend that you are your own little child, and deal with yourself tenderly and gently, making allowances for the early strain to which you were subjected. So few of us American women, with our alert minds, and our Puritanic consciences, have the good sense and self-control to refrain from driving ourselves; and if, as often happens, we have formed the bad habit early in life, reform is truly difficult, but not impossible. We can get the good of our disability by conscientiously driving home the principle that in order to ‘love others as ourselves’ we must learn to love ourselves as we love others. We have literally no right to be unreasonably exacting toward ourselves,—but perhaps I am taking too much upon myself by preaching outside the realm of child study.”
THE MOTHER AND THE TEACHER
“Your paper has been intensely interesting to me. I have always held that a true teacher was really a mother, though of a very large flock, just as a true mother is really a teacher, though of a very small school. The two points of view complete each other and I doubt if either mother or teacher can see truly without the other. They tell us, you know, that our two eyes, with their slight divergence of position, are necessary to make us, see things as having more than one side; and the mother and the teacher, one seeing the individual child, the other the child as the member of the race, need each other to see the child as the complex, many-sided individual he really is.
“In your school, do you manage to get the mothers to co-operate? Here, I am trying to get near my children’s teachers. They try, too; but it is not altogether easy for any of us. We need some common meeting ground—some neutral activity which we could share. If you have any suggestions, I shall be glad to have them. Of course, I visit school and the teachers visit me, and we are friendly in an arm’s length sort of fashion. That is largely because they believe in corporal punishment and practice it freely and it is hard for us to look straight at each other over this disagreement.”
To the Matron of a Girls’ Orphan Asylum