Our plans for finishing our unit before vacation are fading fast. When I get behind on plans, I tend to start feeling like a big ZERO. I am my own worst critic. I have opted to do some much needed reorganization in our bedroom (preparing things to go to storage), taxes and paperwork, Christmas cards, and enjoying time with Daddy for his birthday… rather than do our previously planned two-weeks-worth of “Frontiersmen and Indians”. Am I disappointed? Yes. Am I kicking myself? Yes. Do I feel like I’m way behind? Yes. I’ve been homeschooling more than four years now (this is our fifth), and I still have these days when I
want to pull all my hair out wonder if we will ever get ahead of the game.
Usually, when I have these “down” moments, the Lord will come along and pick me up. He will dust me off and set me on the level path again. Sometimes it is just the gentle reminder from my kids that we haven’t started the day with a prayer (big time no-no for me since that is when things all start to unravel). Sometimes it is a refreshing holiday/vacation day or just a weekend day off that inspires me to return to the next school week with renewed enthusiasm. Sometimes God picks me up through a perfectly timed event that “falls into our lap”… fitting in to our scheduled “unit” as if it was custom-created by God himself. I call these “God-Moments” or “God Smiles”. One such “God Smile” was the time we were studying birds and an entire flock of pigeons landed on our picnic table at the park and ate out of our hands. It was one of those brief times that you just awe at how cool it is to be “in the center of the universe” – loved by the Creator.
Yesterday’s pick me up came just at the right time. I’ve been beating myself up over not being able to “get it all done”. I guess you would call that the “Super-mom syndrome”. I had set the alarm on my phone to remind me to get to church last night. I tend to forget what day it is when Daddy works on weekends and evenings; so a friendly cell-phone alarm is always welcome. The kids and I went to class and came home afterwards to munch on our Christmas chocolate and sweets that were given out by their teachers. I got a phone call from my children’s Bible class teacher about an hour after we got home. I was worried that something was wrong since she has never called before.
It so happens that their Wednesday night Bible teacher is also the coordinator of my church’s children’s program. She was calling to tell me that she wants me to help teach the first and second grade classes on Wednesday nights. She went on and on about how well behaved my kids were. She said they were “just so smart“, “such a joy“, “always welcome in her class“, “so kind to each other“, “quick to find their Bible verses“, “very helpful“, “sweet kids“, etc. She told me that she was so amazed that my 7 year old was reading as well as another boy in her fourth grade class who is an accelerated fourth grader (Morgan attended class with her brother last night). She said that she felt like I would be such a great teacher because I had ‘obviously done so well’ with my own kids… and that she could “tell they were homeschooled”.
I was floored. I wonder what she would think if she knew that I yelled at the kids and lost it when they were fighting with each other earlier yesterday. Or what if she knew that I actually spanked them for kicking each other over a toy the day before (and did it while I was angry). What if she knew about us not being able to accomplish more than the bare minimum with school for the last three days…. or the pile of laundry on my bed and dust all over my furniture? Holy cow! What if she finds out that lately I’ve wanted to crawl into bed and whine about how awful I am doing at homeschool… how badly I wish I had another month before the holidays so I could get back on “schedule”. I DID let her know that I certainly don’t deserve any credit for my kids turning out good. God makes food for multitudes with my little fish and loaves… it truly is a miracle that my worst efforts and worst moments can be added together to make kids as great as mine are. That, folks, is the real secret to success in homeschooling. A simple three letter word: G.O.D.
I guess after thinking it over, I wasn’t realizing that even though I have my “down” days (and sometimes days turn into weeks!)… that my children are learning anyway. The great thing is that they are not only learning about:
…how Kentucky used to be called “Caintuck” by the frontiersmen.
…how Daniel Boon used to call his riffle “Old Tick-Licker”.
…how Santa Anna was defeated in San Jacinto by Houston’s Army.
…how Sam Houston‘s nickname was ‘The Raven’ (and he almost ran against Lincoln for president).
…how the British governor of Detroit (Henry Hamilton) sent Indians in to frontier villages to scalp Americans.
…how some of the goldminers would hunt the Chinese people and cut their braided hair off.
…how the Trail of Tears was over 800 miles long and most Cherokee walked the entire length of it.
…how Sam Houston, Noah Webster, John Adams and Dave Crockett tried to defend Indian rights against greedy settlers.
…how the 49ers were the eighty-thousand people to reach California during the gold rush in 1849.
Those things are important. Academics are certainly important. But really, when all is said and done, I don’t want just smart kids. I want godly kids… kids who’s character sets them apart. Kids that grow up to be gentlemen and ladies… the kind of people who will shine for Christ in this dark world.
God reminded me last night that it is really not me that is doing the work in this ‘home-school’. It is all Him. My kids are smart and good – despite my flaws and my holiday failures. I was reminded that if I just put it all in His hands and quit trying to do it all on my own strength… everything is going to come out OK. I know it will. If my kids are this great after five years at home with their IMPERFECT mama teaching them, I know I can trust Him to keep us going in the right direction in the future.
So here I am, after a well-timed pat on the back… feeling just as “behind”, but somehow much better anyway. I know my kids are going to be OK – even if we have ditched our lesson plans and have taken an extra week of vacation over the holidays. After all, there are plenty of great lessons you can learn during the Christmas season that are from a much more important history book.
I am not sure why I decided to type this message out today. I have a million things to get done before we leave town next Tuesday. I am planning to do a ’12 Days of Christmas’ theme over the holidays and simplify my posts down to a photo with a caption while I’m away. I don’t want to miss all that precious time with friends and family. I hope you’ll understand!
I hope your Christmas as merry and bright… and that God shines His favor on you and yours this holiday season and for all of 2007.