Tuesday, March 3, 2020

Not What I Expected

This first year of homeschooling has not been as I expected. I envisioned effortlessly reading good books to my happy, well-groomed children. I dreamed of days spent outside but forgot about the muddy floors and bad attitudes, and the sticks. The sticks that are thrown. And the tears from those who receive said stick to the face. I swear we spend five minutes happily playing, and 20 minutes fighting over whose turn it is to use the swing.

This year, instead of an easy path towards educational enlightenment, I have been thoroughly humbled and trounced by my own home-school.

The biggest lesson I have learned in my first foray into educating my own wild offspring is that I am a sinner schooling other sinners. I am a sinner and I can't forget my own sin as I teach.

It isn't like I would change this year of preschool. It isn't like I wish I had done something different. But, I have thus far been appalled at my own sin. I am lazy. I don't want to read another book. Sometimes I skip whole paragraphs, especially in Bert Dow Deep Water Man. What kind of person puts paragraphs in a children's book? And why did I ever buy this book? (Well, it was because Bert Dow Deep Water Man is written by the same author of another of our favorites: the one about bears and blueberry hills. But that one has significantly less words and almost no paragraphs.)

Reuben went through a period where he wanted to read Bert Dow Deep Water Man six times a day. I used to try to hide it. Picture books need to come with a word count attached to it or time warnings for lazy mothers who don't love their children as much as Charlotte Mason.

But seriously, why is it so hard for me to stay present with my children? I am constantly distracted by my house; the meals to cook, the laundry to do. Not to mention the internet, social media, knitting, and reading books. And the noise my children make. Why must they make so much noise while I am trying to teach them?

Looking back at this year I have to laugh at myself. I am not a good at homeschooling. In between reading poetry and enjoying tea, I have to remind Reuben to keep his hands out of his mouth and to stop playing with his tongue. No one told me this would happen. Our habit training has gone from my lists of the 10 commandments to “stop touching your face/mouth ALL THE TIME”.

Someone needs to nominate me for mother of the year.

Well. All of the above is true. But what also is true is that I have unaccountably and irrevocably fallen in love with homeschooling. It is empowering and healing, to take control of my own education and “reeducate” myself as I attempt educate my children. Like motherhood, birth, and “postpartum,” homeschooling is another way for God to make me uncomfortable. Another way for Him to teach me about my own sin and my own limitations. Another way to make me see that I can't do it without Him and to surrender.

Surrender should be the new name of my home-school. I mean, we don't have a name yet. I know some people name their schools—in many states you are required to think up a name. I think I'll call ours Surrender School. Me, surrendering to Christ and hopefully teaching and showing (by example) how to do so to my children.

Next year, we start Kindergarten. I'll try to surrender to muddy floors, to sticks, to reading for long hours and learning to love it, to incessant questions that are not at all related to the subject matter I am attempting to impart, and to love, family, and sin.

May God be praised.

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