Yes. I begin this post at 444pm on a Wednesday with a full glass of wine. See, I am an optimist.
This morning, on facebook I believe, I saw this post about Ten Things You Should Know about Homeschool Moms. It is clever and cute and, like the author says, a general summary and not about all homeschoolers. I really enjoyed it. In fact, I tried to “share” it several times but the stoopid facebook app wouldn’t let me. That facebook app fail actually gave me time to ponder the list. I am grateful.
Now mind you, my favorite part of the post was actually all her disclaimers in the beginning, so know that I am heeding those and not taking any of her comments too seriously.
But this thought of mine (to her number 7)I have pondered seriously much of today: I do not lie awake at night worrying that I am ruining my kids. I am, uh, well, you know, like, the most confident homeschooler EVER. I mean EVER. For me, I figure, if the kids ever feel like they haven’t learned what they wanted to or needed to learn, well, that is their problem to reconcile, not mine. Once an individual can read, that individual is capable of learning anything and everything he wants to learn.
To suggest that any institution, public, private, or home could ever teach all that a person should or could know is infantile. It suggests that there is an end to knowledge. That once the word “cat” is mastered in understanding, writing, spelling, and concept that there is nothing more than cat. But really there are dozens and dozens and dozens of felines. If I choose to stop with cat, well, I chose to stop. Nothing is in my way but my infantile awareness.
My kids are responsible for their own accomplishments. Those wants are not on my shoulders. If the six year old wants to become proficient in reading, well, she has to choose to stop playing veterinarian and practice her reading. I am not going to choose for her as I feel her compassion and logical sequencing when playing veterinarian is as important as spelling and reading “veterinarian.” She is wise enough to know when she is ready.
If the thirteen year old chooses to listen to Journey play “Don’t Stop Believin'” and not actually practice the song himself but would rather whine and complain about how he’ll never master the piano piece, well, it’s his choice. He must not really want to master it. No one has barred him from the keyboard.
Now, the six year old is working a vet clinic in the big tent outside. The thirteen year old is upstairs practicing the Journey song. Of course, that makes sense. As I am aging I am certainly learning to prioritize more carefully. And I lead by example. As do the children. Reade, since I wrote that last sentence, left the piano and now the ten year old is there working on “Love Story” (Taylor Swift, as if you had to ask). Reade led by example. And Laura Lea will one day follow the example of an older sibling or friend who is captured in a written story. She will decide she wants to join that world. And that will come in due time, with age.
As I progress forward in time with our children, I am choosing to be less authoritarian. It does not mean I do not make my own expectations and limits clear. It means I allow them to make their choices. Including some that would seem odd to others. I expect them to look after themselves.
My kids pack themselves for overnights and long trips. I will sometimes look over what they have packed, but if the kid arrives without a bathing suit or toothbrush, well, she’ll not swim and have stinky breath. If I pack for a child and forget the bathing suit or toothbrush (and realize it) I will make right by the child even at a monetary or time expense. Thankfully I rarely pack for anyone other than myself because I am very forgetful.
If my kids say to me, say at 2pm, “I am hungry, why didn’t you feed us lunch?” Uh? What? Are you serious? I have, more than once, answered, “Wow. I have been busy! Didn’t even think about stopping to eat.” I won’t apologize because these kids can all choose, slice, dice, spread, cook, and clean. They have no problem at all with helping themselves at any time of day without ever saying a word to me about it, so really? If they get hungry, they know how to feed themselves.
So, no. I never worry about ruining my kids. Because they are learning to care for themselves. To think for themselves. They are reminded that they have the tools to learn, do, think on their own and that all choices have good and bad consequences. They also know that I have their backs. That if they have a need it will be met with comfort, guidance, and love. They only have to choose to ask. I am grateful.