Friday, July 31, 2015

My Not So Terrible, Horrible, Pretty Good Day

I awoke feeling like Alexander at 5:45 am. How could the sun dare show its face by shining brightly and cheerfully when I needed that last fifteen minutes of sleep and my back hurt?  My son knocked on the bedroom door around 6:30 informing me that bubbles covered the kitchen floor, and he most certainly did not do it. Um, actually it was my bright idea to use liquid dish detergent after running out of dishwasher pellets late last night. Liquid detergent works very well if you use the correct proportion, just enough to clean the dishes without bubbling out the dishwasher. Obviously, I got it wrong. I needed to mop the floor anyway.

One son decides he wants to cook breakfast. So, he whips out the turkey bacon, scrambles some eggs, and asks about one hundred million questions about buttering the toast (okay, three). It seems that we only have unsalted butter in the house. Impossible! This leads to a five minute rant about the improbability of eating 30 servings of I Can't Believe It's Not Butter in less than a week, culminating with my hysterically promising to never buy butter again, ever.

 Get shoes, get socks or my daughter won't have time to warm up on the ice for figure skating at 8 am. We need to leave at 7:15. Seriously, you just realize your skates need sharpening, necessitating an hour drive to the next town over at some point in the next few days, when we were just there two days ago.

At the rink, I recount the sad plight of my filled life: doctor's appointments, Civil Air Patrol, swim, football, band, tap, and figure skating. Did I mention tentatively adding tennis and voice lessons? My friend listened, then asked what else would I do with my time. She said she'd probably clean. I sat and thought. Well, if I worked full time I'd work plus everything listed above, so nothing would really change. Honestly, our schedule seems cumbersome because I have four children. Swim and band involves everyone. We still share meals, volunteer, play video games, and vegetate. They have plenty of time alone to rest and engage in child-led activities.

I stopped complaining long enough to admit that the only year round activities we engage in is figure skating and Civil Air Patrol. Everything else has a set beginning and ending right now. It's a privilege to allow my children to discover their interests. Truly, the time is so fleeting,  lasting for only a season. Soon, I'll have drivers, no chauffeuring required. At some point, they'll narrow interests and find their niche. I'm not advocating providing every opportunity until there is no breathing room. We don't force them to participate in any of these activities nor do we live our lives through them. They stretch me and force me outside my comfort zone.

It  is an honor to watch them grow, bloom, and master various skills. Band is our family thing, allowing us to play together. Football allows my husband to bond with our son through coaching and share himself with the other kids on the team. Tennis connects my other son with an aunt who eats, sleeps, and plays tennis. Even in what seems like a mad rush, it serves a purpose. We're learning patience, sacrifice, support, making friends, and broadening our horizons. The added bonus is the fun we're having while doing it. We end up with lots of time to talk and just hang out wherever the next activity takes us. I never thought I'd spout lingo like inside three turns and choctaws, look into opera lessons, or learn more about the NBA than I thought possible.

So, maybe I'm the one who needs reminding of the joys in the journey. I did go back and apologize to my son for overlooking his help and kindness. Butter has been added to the next grocery list.

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Starting with Why

I realize how draining I allow home schooling to become. It's not even about the elusive "me" time, which has never really bothered me. It came to me that I've been focusing on the wrong questions. I've been asking:
  • How do I teach my children everything they need to become successful adults?
  • What tools do I use to accomplish this goal?
  • Where do I find the these tools?
  • When do I expose them to certain ideas and materials?
But, I failed to ask the all important question of why am I doing this. I can't even find the old mission and vision statement, but I fear it didn't really speak of my heart's dreams. It was more of a plan. Why does our home school exist? Surprisingly, there is a book called Start with Why by Simon Sinek that explores on an organizational and business level why you are doing what you do. I haven't read the complete book, but have listened to his TEdx talk and perused his blog, which does offer information for individuals to discover their why.

In a previous post, I stated that I needed to go back to the early days of home schooling. But, it's more of the mindset that I to need to regain. The push to cram a lifetime of learning into a short of span time, buy brighter and shinier curriculum, and try this and that organizational tool is overwhelming. Yes, I have my pinterest boards with all the grand project ideas for each child according to interest. And guess what? Often, they have little interest in the ideas I choose for them. Every now and then I score a big hit. I am growing more comfortable with the dud ideas. I use to act as if by rejecting my ideas they rejected me. Honestly, I tend to go a little overboard and haven't really learned spacing. If a child mentions an interest I immediately collect websites, make a trip to the library, and essentially amass a lifetime of resources for one short span of time. I'm learning to back off and give them space. Planning, organizing, and creating lists comforts me. So, the question becomes what is my why. Is it for some illusion of future success? Is it because I think public schools are a failure? No, this isn't what I believe at all. Am I trying to create twelve year old college students? Okay, a part of me thinks this is pretty awesome. Through this process if I'm creating distrust, manipulating, and banking on certain success to vindicate our decision to home school, then I've gotten it all wrong.

I have been struggling for a year or two with my son's writing. Notice I didn't say he was struggling. His writing didn't meet the standards I had set. All I could imagine was a 30 year old man not knowing how to write coherently and it affecting his entire life, which would involve great struggle and failure all because of middle school writing. Well, it turns out after deciding to take my husband's advice and giving my son breathing room he writes just fine. He's writing stories. But, he didn't trust me enough to share. Who wants to share with someone who hyper-focuses on grammatical and stylistic errors? I missed his creativity and effort by focusing on the wrong things. This doesn't mean I avoid commenting on concerns, just that I do it a different manner.

I want to inspire. Why do we write? Why are we doing this whole process? Is it for some unpromised future?  Why do we do this thing called home schooling? We do this to live right now in this moment, in this world. Not for some future promise that we'll use this knowledge years from now. We do this to contribute to human society right now. We do this because they have a voice wanting to be heard right now.We do this because they have gifts to be shared right now. We do this because they need time to grow and bloom at their own rate. They are real people wanting to do real things right now.