Tuesday, June 09, 2009

School's Out For Summer... tomorrow

Tomorrow is supposed to be the last day of our homeschool year.
Yeah for the kids. Yeah for me.
It's been a tough year. Lots of ups and lots of downs.
Many laughs. Many tears.
Parenting is the hardest job I have ever had.
Homeschooling makes parenting into a two-job career - and neither job is paid.
Well, certainly not financially remunerated.

Tomorrow is their last day at their desks, listening to me yammer, assigning assignments I later forget to check, reading stories I neglect to ask them to write about, planning field trips we never report on. We look at trees and flowers everywhere, but can't name many of them. We listen to bird calls, but don't bother to find out what kinds of birds they are. We are deeply impressed with people who can identify trees and birds and flowers.

We don't have an organic garden where we grow all our vegetables. We don't compost our store-bought fruit or vegetable skin or repurpose our used milk containers. (If the milk and veggies are organic, does that count for something?) We don't bake our own bread, sew our own clothing, or grow yogurt cultures. We don't run a home-based business out of our home or have entire chapters of dense books committed to memory. We sometimes stop at Starbucks on our morning walks and add more calories to our diets instead of only burning them.

But we do read and discuss all kinds of books. We quiz each other on the state capitals and also a few international capitals. We travel near and far to see people, places, art, architecture and shopping plazas. We take photos, keep journals, and stop to watch turtles and fish float in nearby ponds. We make our own lunch and dinner from scratch most of the time and do chores and walk the dog and play tennis and go for walks and learn a few verbs in Spanish every once in a while.

We watch videos of poets performing on you-tube. We go to plays, concerts, church activities, tennis matches, horseback riding, the library, local museums, bead shops, markets, and local parks. We invite people over for dinner and ask them questions about their lives and tell lots of stories about our life together. We listen to stories on NPR every now and then and yell at the people on the radio.

We pray together every day and read the Bible and try to find ways to apply our faith to everyday situations. We want to make a difference in the lives of people we know and even a few that we don't know. We give money and clothes and toys and bikes and time and smiles and hugs and food to people in need. We try to forgive those who hurt us, do as little as possible to hurt each other, and give thanks that we cannot understand how or why so many people seem to go out their way to harm others.

It's not always fun and laughter and happy times here at The Silvermine Academy. Sometimes the kids roll their eyes when I tell them to pull out their journals or to get ready for a spelling quiz. Sometimes I roll my eyes when I remember that, in fact, it's time to start homeschooling - especially when I am planning or producing a blog post or a cool design of some kind in my journal.

I dread this time of the year when I remember that I have to write a summary of the year in descriptive, eloquent, glowing terms. After all, Kristiana is a sophmore in high school, and I've gotta produce a portfolio of some kind to present to colleges on her behalf. What she did. How hard she worked. How creative she was. All that jazz.

Confession time: I still haven't written the summary from last year, her fresh-woman year in high school. At the end of last year, the year that she and I had alone together because Daniel went to "traditional" school (that little traitor - but he came home after one year - that little genius), I was so happy about all we had done together, all the things we had read and seen and enjoyed, that I forgot to write any of it down in a school year summary document. I thank God that she and I kept daily journals and took a fair number of photos. I'd better get on top of that soon. Real soon.

Often, it feels like we are floating along without much of a plan, keeping precious few records of the little that we are doing, but having a great time together, getting to know each other deeply, and most of all, learning the importance of not taking one day, not one hour, not one moment together for granted. This year, more than any other in our lives, has taught us that truth. In one moment, in a split second, life can change completely.

Tomorrow, next week, next year, high school graduation - none of that is promised. So, ultimately, who cares if there aren't a lot of book reports or lab reports or randomly assigned dioramas to produce and show to other people? This isn't for anybody but us. This is about opening our eyes, ears, and hearts to each other and to the world and taking in as much as we can.

Isn't that what school is supposed to be about?

Tomorrow is supposed to be the last day of our homeschool year. But knowing us, we may change our minds at the last minute and vote to watch one more segment of Planet Earth, listen to a few more birds outside, and move a turtle out of the road - and count that as a science lesson. One never knows, do one?

PS. Maybe I'll use this blog post as part of K's high school portfolio packet...


jena strong said...

Your P.S. is dead-on. Just retool those second seven paragraphs - they blew me away and gave such a vivid portrait of your/her year. I wish you were MY kids' teacher!!

jmgb said...

you are a natural gail~