Monday, September 01, 2008
The Blur that is My Life
There they are: my two blurry kids. Blurry because they are growing up so fast I can barely see them. Blurry because they move so quickly from one activity and friend and crisis and insight into each other and themselves that I cannot keep up. Blurry because I mustn't have been wearing my glasses when I took the photos.
Here we are together, the entire student body, faculty and staff of The Silvermine Academy, our homeschool. (For those of you who have ever wondered what "Silvermine" refers to in the name of this blog: it is the name of the area where we lived in Norwalk, CT, before moving here. When we had to name our homeschool, we chose that auspicious title. There have been times when we are out in the middle of the day sipping something refreshing at Starbucks or filling a shopping cart at Harris Teeter and someone asks why the children aren't in school, we get to say clever things like, "The children attend The Silvermine Academy, and they are off from school today." Or "This is a field trip sponsored by The Silvermine Academy." That sounds quite impressive, doesn't it? Plus all the people who think they know all the exclusive private schools in the area are left wondering what little gem they missed out on!)
Tomorrow we officially start school. Homeschooling, that is. Sit down at the table. Set some goals. Some parameters. Pull the shrink wrap off the textbooks and workbooks. Choose dates for the required standardized tests.
Undoubtedly, I will panic a little. ("Am I crazy to think I can teach these kids anything? Is my husband nuts to leave me alone with them for another year?")
And then I will relax.
I will remind myself that I am not "doing school" at home.
We are a family. We are friends.
We happen to prefer learning stuff together.
Stuff like goodness and kindness, humor and patience,
how to dust the baseboards and banisters
how to sort through overstuffed dresser drawers,
watch television with a critical eye,
and how to make peach cobbler with local,
fresh Georgia and South Carolina peaches.
(The cobbler the kids made last week was better than tonight's.
We all love being able to judge the subtle differences! YUM!!!)
Stuff like how to find information when they need it,
how to use their time wisely,
and how to forgive themselves when a project or experiment is a flop,
they lose their temper, and say something they immediately regret.
I will remind them that there will be no grades.
There will be no diagnoses of ADHD.
There is no detention, except to observe the lizards that crawl up the screens on the house.
There is no dress code and no late bell.
They cannot be left behind.
They cannot fail.
Yes, you read it right: "Dessert burger." These colorful treats were on display around the 4th of July at a local supermarket. Desserts that are made to look like hamburgers! Who in their right mind would eat such a thing???
Of course, it got me to thinking not only about physical sustenance, but also about emotional, mental, and relational food. How often do I eat "soul food" that is equally unsubstantial? How often do I read things that are junk food for my mind and spirit? How often do I willingly gobble down artificial flavors and colors and trans fat that clog and harden the arteries leading to my soul, that dull my spiritual tastebuds so much that when real beauty, insight, wisdom, and truth come along I miss them?
I must admit that I often feed my children fake food - and I'm not only referring to the Hint of Lime Tostito chips we all have a weakness for. I mean the programs I allow them to watch on television, the trivial novels I allow them to read, and the unnecessary luxuries I indulge them in. I mean well, but it's all fake. Like Splenda and Sweet and Low, those things are pure chemicals, meant to distract us from what is missing, but we all know that it's not the same. It kinda sorta tastes sweet, but I know it's not the real thing. And so do they.
Tomorrow the fall semester at The Silvermine Academy will officially begin. We will sit down at the extra long desk in our homeschool room, rearrange our textbooks yet again, and dream aloud about what we hope and pray the year will teach us. We will discuss the activities of the summer gone by and make plans for the academic year that is poised to begin.
I will look into the eyes of the two blurs that make up the majority of my time and life at the moment, and I will panic a little as I think about how blurry my life feels these days.
Then I will hug them once again, clear my throat, and tell them to open their notebooks to a clean sheet of paper and put the date at the top.