of butter and whetstones

“Mom, I’m sorry.”  The eyes in the rear-view window were large and soft and full of contrition. “I’m sorry that I freaked out so much about homeschooling. Can you forgive me?”

I made eye-contact for a minute and then said, “I always forgive you.  Even when you’re shouting at me, in that very minute I’m forgiving you.  I’m hurt and yet I’m forgiving you.  Always.”

Small sigh from the back seat. The traffic moves and sifts through holes.

“You know, Matthias, it’s not always my job to have you do what’s easy.  Right? Homeschooling is about building a better you.  It’s not always about easy.  Imagine if you tried to sharpen a sword with butter.  Not going to work.  To sharpen the edge you need something hard, something tough.”

A soft, listening silence from the back seat.

“Not always, though.  You’d rub it away to a stub.  And sometimes you do oil the blade.  But sharpening doesn’t happen with a sword and a stick of butter.”

“I love you, Mom.”

“I love you, too.”


There will be yet more fights.  There will be yet more metaphors, analogies, and teaching stories.

Never straight. Never simple.

Always this boy. Always this love.


13 thoughts on “of butter and whetstones

  1. Vickie says:

    I know that this is your life and not fiction, but this is one of the best short stories I have ever read. I mean this entirely as a compliment. Wow!

  2. ChristineMM says:

    Loved this, saw it the other day & shared on a local HS chat list where coincidentially reading problems were being discussed. We’re working hard here, when the kids struggle to learn, we don’t avoid the learning but try different strategies. I hear you about the effort.

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