It’s been an interesting few months. But you don’t know that. And that has to change.
For those watching this space in vain for some change of scenery, I must again begin with the obligatory apology. My bookshelf at this time on Kindle is open to the book“Linchpin” by Seth Godin, and it has several great points on why we do not complete, or in his term “ship”, our work or express our passions to the masses. I must admit several of his reasons explain my inconsistent blogging practices. The constant worry over whether I have anything to say; procrastinating when I have a moment to write; the mulling of ideas to the point of paralysis, when I should push my ideas out into the world rather than let them languish and die in the dark, unseen, but safe corners of my mind. All these tactics of the ‘resistance’, as he terms it, and several others, serve to keep my pen silent and my world closed to you.
As a homeschool dad, these same resistance factors have infiltrated into my thinking as a leader of my family’s educational journey. As my oldest nears graduation at the end of this month, I’m finding myself more and more concerned that I haven’t prepared him well enough for life on his own. I repeat the safe and secure mantras of “you’ll have to be responsible for yourself”, “Think about the future”, and other trite expressions of parental wisdom. As if any high school senior is NOT thinking about those things, even if they lack the understanding of the choices ahead. My phrases will not teach him the gravity of the real world – the real world will. What I can continue to do as he reaches this threshold is to model and convey the trust I have that he has the inherent power to handle and be in control of his upcoming circumstances, even if he has shown precious little evidence of being able to do so. I only need look back on my own moments of total bewilderment on my first weekend of college, which was spent in a dorm hallway slick with water, 150 mile per hour winds whistling outside our windows as some scared and nervous RA tried to maintain our calm as Hurricane Andrew became our welcoming committee to the city of Miami. What in the world could my parents had said to prepare me for that? Nothing I can think of, and yet, I don’t remember losing my head. I can only pray my son’s first days of school will not involve any natural disasters, but I can be sure that something at that moment will kick in and take him to a place of maturity that has not been needed before. You don’t know the power that is within you until it is needed, and there’s no way to sense it until that moment. All I’ve done up to this moment in his life is give him access to the strength and knowledge that he has, and therefore, I must then allow life to bring it back out of him.
The same is true of my younger, still homeschooled middle grade kids. Both have done well this year, in their independent computer courses and in their co-op classes. The resistance in this case has told me that I’m not monitoring their progress closely enough, that they’re getting too connected to the internet as their source of knowledge (which may have some truth to it), and that I haven’t correctly guided them through a basic study course that will ensure a successful transition to public school. The voices say I should be more regimented, do more of the 3 R’s and make sure they can follow a more ‘traditional’ type of class. After all, they’re on the cusp of high school and I wouldn’t want them laughed at for not knowing some basic fact or learning strategy, right?
But that’s not why I signed up for this. When I left the school system, it was because I didn’t fit the mold. Because I wanted my children and I to change the way we saw education, not because we wanted to recreate a system of control and de-individualized practices at home. I don’t want my kids to absorb and regurgitate the culture, I want them to change it and challenge it. And in order for them to do that, I must make sure I don’t allow those same limiting forces and voices to begin to dominate my thinking. So when my son continues to use a conversational tone in his research writing, I have to quell the urge to tell him to be more staid and matter-of-fact. Who would want to read another Wiki-pedia style paper? When my daughter is working through math problems with confidence, even though she may be at a lower level than her peers in her grade, why am I perturbed? She lacked that same confidence just a year ago, now she looks forward to her math. I should be happy every time she nails a mental addition problem, knowing that most adults would have just picked up a calculator anyway.
The key to their being able to function in our society successfully will be their ability to recognize their unique role in shaping the world around them rather than accepting it as it is. In order to change their world, they must first not be willing to change themselves to fit into it. Which means their daddy must be willing to fight the urge just as strongly as I want them to fight it. When I want to put myself down for staying home, when I want to compare myself to the ‘traditional’ husband working a 9 to 5, when I judge myself on my income percentage and not on the percentage of time I devote to my kids, I’m giving in to the culture. The title of this blog is a challenge to that notion that my highest priority is to be the primary breadwinner. My highest priority is that my family knows I am there — that I wouldn’t sacrifice their needs for my need to feel more important or useful in a workplace or a ministerial position that would eat away at my time with them. By losing my life (the life I feel I’m supposed to lead to validate myself), I find it. This applies both to my faith in Christ, and to my family walk. What I lose in ego driven self centered analysis and comparison, I gain in true power over my circumstances and the will of the yapping chihuahuas of doubt in my head. (No offense to chihuahua owners.)
Perhaps we won’t make a worldwide impact on the government, or politics, or education. But each time we stay on the course of what we truly stand for and not make a convenient bow to the masses, we help to free anyone else in our circle that is in that same position. So the next time I have to ‘name’ our homeschool program, which is sometimes asked for on forms for testing or other things we register for, I think I’m going to write in “Culture Changers” to remind me of our stand. And perhaps, as a side benefit of my determination to not be pushed around by my predisposition to compromise, I’ll push a couple more blog posts your way in the interim. That would definitely be a change. One I hope you’ll look forward to.
Unto the hills,