The boxes arrived last week and I have spent the last few days organizing our homeschool room. As I sit and plan for the next school year, my emotions are all over the place. This is the last time I will plan the year for Benjamin, Mason and Claire. This is their senior year, their last year in my little classroom. And though, I know they aren't leaving my life forever, they will leave the little area where we "do school" and stretch their wings and fly. I am eager for them, anxious for me and delighted for the world to engage with my amazing trio.
Homeschooling my three -- now four -- was not my original plan. Ok, to be honest, it was my original plan if you count the plan I made when they were three and I could not bear the thought of them ever leaving me. But it was not a plan that we really thought would work once we knew the significance of Benjamin's physical restrictions. We frankly assumed that trained educators would know more than me. We assumed that somebody had to know how to help this bright young boy access all his strengths and get them on paper. We assumed.
And because I am not sure I've shared our whole story here, today I think it is time. Time for me to say that sometimes as parents we have to make the hard choice. Sometimes as parents, we have to do the unthinkable, the crazy, the jump-off-a-cliff choice. That happened for us when the trio hit sixth grade.
|Little Red on "Box Day" -- the day our books arrive for the upcoming school year! Think CHRISTMAS in July!!|
We had been rolling along -- literally -- and experiencing some of the best educators our country has to offer. We had great experiences in Minnesota -- though not without challenges -- and we had an astounding experience in Texas with a teacher that frankly changed our thinking and made a life-long impact on not only Benjamin but all of us. We moved to Arizona expecting much of the same and we did encounter some fantastic teachers. But around fifth grade we started hitting some road blocks -- some the choices of a couple of educators, some the mere size of the classrooms, some the struggles of school getting harder and Benjamin's physical challenges impacting that more.
|She wants to read all the books right now!|
It was a perfect storm. By sixth grade, I was losing my charming boy. His personality was getting lost in the frustration of navigating a system that never intended to be navigated by a child in a wheelchair as bright as he is. Our home life was reflecting the storm. In an effort to make my wonderfully square-pegged child fit into the extremely round peg of the school we were attending, we were doing homework from 4-8 every single night. A two-year-old climbing on my back, no supper in sight, we sat at the table and worked and worked until we were all in tears.
One night a precious God-given friend called from Mississippi. As I tersely answered her call, she asked about what we were doing. Near tears, I explained. And this brilliant friend said, "Oh Carol. You ARE homeschooling. You are just doing it at the worst time of the day."
And a light bulb of an idea went off in my head.
We brought all three home at Christmas that year. It was sixth grade, I reasoned. How bad could I mess them up? If it didn't work, we could re-enroll them for seventh grade and they would be no worse for the wear. Right?
Except, this thing -- this wonderfully hard, crazy thing -- worked. It worked. We were able to get school done, have physical therapy, do some extra-curricular activities and be ready to sit down and have dinner as a family when Dad got home. It was amazing.
Now, I can tell you that there have been struggles. There have been days where I wanted to run through the desert screaming and pulling my hair out and wondering how in the world I could return to teach Chemistry, Pre-Calculus or look at one more Spanish test. There have been those days.
And I have no doubt this year will bring more of those (We are adding Calculus and Anatomy and Physiology, after all. Why oh why can't life be more about British Lit and essay writing?).
But here is what I am burdened to tell you -- and this applies to you whether you homeschool or not -- the days may seem long, my friends, the days may seem run-through-the-desert-screaming-long, but oh dear ones, the seasons are so so short.
Can you look at my little chart I have spent the afternoon making? I need you to see the two orange sections and the blue section. The orange colors the years I had preschoolers. The blue the years my children were at home before college.
Now, I know they might come back and live here. I hope so. But what I need you to see is just how short the years are. Just how very very short. I know that when you are changing a million diapers a day or teaching a strong-willed child (or four) to obey, the days seem never-ending. I just can not get past the fact that the orange seasons were so very short. The days spent in the throes of mothering little bitties who required all my attention was so brief.
And even my homeschool years have flown. The days spent conjugating verbs in Spanish, diagramming sentences and dissecting earthworms on the kitchen table will be over in the blink of an eye.
So, can I encourage you today to look at your own version of my timeline? Can you look at your life, and see how brief this season -- whatever season you are in -- is? Can you purpose to embrace today? To find a way to celebrate this year, this month, this day? Because all too soon, you are going to be looking back at the seasons and I want those stripes on your timeline to be packed with memories made, time enjoyed and love given and received.
|Little Red turning One.|
|Last day of Kindergarten.|
|With Dad seizing the moments of summer before the trio's senior year and Cate's 4th grade!|
"There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven....[God] has made everything beautiful in its time." Ecclesiastes 3:1,11a (NIV)