Yesterday I contemplated the perfect life, what it would be like to live a dream that has been present since childhood. Watching people that have never really grown up, or to better define their personality – never had to change who they are, is both disheartening and refreshing. I find it disheartening because I desire to have that life. Maybe not the exact life they are living, after all that was their dream not mine, but to live out a daily passion. It is refreshing to see a person free from the mental walls that most of us build up to make ourselves fit into whatever mold was provided so that we could accomplish a productive, self-supporting lifestyle.
I reject these ideas while being wrapped up in them myself. I went to school, received a degree in something I could do in order to put food on the table and receive health care for myself and my child. That was my goal. Not a passion that I was strongly rooted in to grow and nurture but a means to an end. That was 15 years and 3 children ago.
Now that I have 4 children to nurture, I do not want this conformed life for them. I want them to pursue their passion. For each one that is something completely different. While this is terrifying as a mother, I have seen that it is possible. My oldest is creative in many directions, he desires to design houses and buildings. He wants to make permanent fixtures of his expressions that also provide shelter and comfort to others, he wants to share his idea of comfort with others. The next child is a tinker, she creates art, machines and clothing out of things she finds while she is playing outside. She is a constant surprise with a new creation. Then there is the son with autism who spews geography facts like we are talking about the weather. I want to show him all the amazing landmarks he obsesses over. And the baby, who ignites passion in everyone around her. She deserves to be on stage and share her contagious spirit with the world.
We are all a bit of a genius. Our genius is in our passion, our strongest desires that lie in our hearts create it. When setting out on a new project that started with a natural desire not a list of boxes to be ticked, the energy behind it is obvious. When we are children and told it is time to stop playing and grow up, we set aside some of those passions and they seldom return. I am not sure I know how to zip my mouth when one of the children say they want to ride horses, travel, skateboard or just hang out for a living. My first unnatural instinct wants to say, “What about law school, you don’t have to be a lawyer, it’s just a good education”. I must pause and remind myself that there are horse trainers and pilots, and professional skaters, and people that organize places for stressed out people to hang out. I must remember to inspire their genius, so that they too will live out their childhood dream instead of growing up.
Today, after returning from a day at friends house in the country, I was missing my sweet boy just after we walked in the door. I called his name and he replied, “I’m here Mom, in the bathroom, just taking a potty break.” A moment of panic ran through me as I briefly recognized his fabulous use of language, (responded the first time, secured attention by using my name, expressed his needs) because him in the bathroom unattended would normally mean he had put an entire roll of toliet paper in the toliet or worse, he has pooped and is trying to clean himself up. But neither was true. I opened the door to find him standing at the toliet, pants down, with a golden arch splashing the toliet water; not the porcelain or the wall or the floor, the water. He finished up, pulled up his pants and ran to the paper he wanted to color with his markers without any further mention of what he just did. As I was recovering from this break through moment after 2.5 years of struggle and determination that he could and would be potty trained even if he was in his teens before it happened, I realized I need to get him more elastic waisted pants so he can continue to be successful.
We are now well into our school year. I have been told by another homeschooler that they are like the tortoise, moving at a constant speed but never really stoping. There have been many struggles over the last few weeks shoving me toward the tortoise philosophy. This time we may never really stop “doing school”. The fatigue caused by trying to regain a routine could be prevented without every really stoping the routine in the first place. First lesson learned, my family does not adapt to fast changes. I plan on trying a slowing down and a revving up method as our year progresses. I may adjust the schedule to less intensive study or take time to learn a subject we can’t seem to fit in during the busy season, like calligraphy, but the format of how we study will not change.
Second lesson learned, studying advanced math is less about the math and more about attention to details and fortitude. By the time you get to this level of math you should have mastered addition, subtraction, multiplication and division. This is the foundation of math, these 4 components in various different formulas to solve different problems. Difficulties arise when the detail of the negative number was missed or your brain is mush from looking at numbers and signs for a lengthy time period. I have discovered that my son is brilliant at figures but lacks patience both with himself and with the process of the formula. I find little that is abnormal in his frustrations. It is age appropriate to lack patience with yourself and find fault in your math skills rather than fault in character. When I was younger and studying complex math I thought I would never use, I didn’t realize I was developing my character as well as my mind. Perhaps that is one purpose of studying high levels of math. If you are able to sit and work though a problem that may take you 10 minutes to compute, get a wrong answer, then review each step to see where your mistake was and refigure, you can add fortitude and humility to your character traits. Over time practice, repeated mistakes, and more practice will leave you with the ability to solve any problem, in math or life.
This school year has begun. We started adding small tasks two weeks ago and will be adding one more subject starting Monday. Challenges for this year: homeschooling a high schooler, tutoring in our homeschool community, and teaching Sunday School to 5th graders. All brand new, never before experienced by me adventures. I can’t wait! I am up at odd hours in the night creating flash cards for quiz club, putting together binders of information for teaching and the finishing touches on lesson plans. Going into our 2nd year of homeschooling, I have decided to try a new approach. This year I will be doing more reading out loud, more reading to the children and more of the children reading to me. We are currently reading Little Pilgrims Progress. There is nothing better than all four kids in one room, some plied on top of me or each other, others involved in a task pretending not to listen, absorbing great literature.
I am already seeing disorganization creeping around the edges of my spread sheets as I look at random icons on the desktop. Is that file for school or church or that job I quit last year? My mantra is “God’s Peace is with you” and the scrambled up icons fade into the background as those gridded lines come back into focus. We have had some interesting discoveries about stress in our family (more to come on this topic) that have led to need the constant reminder of God’s Peace. It would seem my moderation is out of whack. In time it will settle back down, what is new will become routine and I will be looking again for the next adventure. For now I remind myself that I can’t learn Latin, Greek, and Advanced Math in one week and that rest is a priority.