you have been challenged

To Do/Done
: : :

“One never notices what has been done; one can only see what remains to be done.”

Marie Curie

A Challenge is issued:

So often we see what’s undone, what’s misspelled, what’s untidy. We stare through the interesting conversation going on before us and see that the kids are – horrors! – still in their pyjamas. We see the swaths of history unlearned rather than the science mastered. We see the one box unchecked on the list.

Twice this year I have caught myself in the middle of particularly egregious examples of this. ‘Oh,” I sighed to Rainer one morning, “We’ve covered so much less than I thought we might this year. Yes, we’re doing far more than any other year by an order of magnitude, and it finally feels like the wheels are on and we’re moving, and the kids’ reading is finally looking solid, but…”

Can you recognize that ‘but’? I laughed as I caught it. Better by far isn’t enough?

Tuesday, likewise, I was rather down about the fact that Matthias had a cold and declared himself too muddled to homeschool after our breakfast chapter of “The Witch of Blackbird Pond”. He played a few games on his DS, rested a bit, and then surprisingly informed me that we’d do our partner reading of “Geronimo Stilton” after lunch. And we did. A sick boy who has struggled with reading, taking the day off, and yet doing his work at his instigation. Did I notice it? Yes, I was pleasantly surprised.

It wasn’t til I was on my way home from Weight Watchers, walking along busy 18th St. as the cars drove by in their busy self-importance, that I realized that ‘pleasantly surprised’ was hardly the proper response. I was mulling over the lecture I’d just given on how very little perfection has to do with progress, thinking of how I’d challenged them to keep a ‘victory log’ for a week, recording their many successes. It struck me as something homeschoolers might want to try…and suddenly Matthias’ choice burst over me like a wave. That afternoon had been extraordinary. It was a moment like the clear calling of a bell, and I had nearly missed it in the rounds of the everyday, in the muffling of my inattentiveness.

So I challenge you who have taken the great leap of faith off the cliff and are responsible for educating your children:

Keep a victory log.

Take a vacation from ‘To Do’.

See the ‘Done’.

18 thoughts on “you have been challenged

  1. Rora114 says:

    These are great things for those of us without kids to do, too! Too often we as a society focus on the negative (hello, evening news, newspapers, gossip, etc), and forget to revel in the positive.

    Great challenges! Thank you!

  2. Big Mamma Frog says:

    Aha…that’s what my blog is for. To remind myself of the things done, not the things undone (though these slip in too). It’s easy to forget on a bad day that things HAVE been achieved. Just because something isn’t being achieved at that very moment, doesn’t mean that all is lost. I look back at my blog and think ‘Yay! We did that!’.

  3. Kim says:

    That is a very, very, VERY good reminder. And timely for me as well. Just today I was lamenting the many things that we haven’t done… ignoring what has been accomplished. My two year old with autism HAS started making meaningful eye contact, he HAS started bringing me things with communicative purpose, he HAS stopped shrieking all the time. Those things are huge, HUGE accomplishments for him. Why did I spent hours today worrying that he’s not talking yet? I should have been focusing on what he IS doing which is very exciting and really wonderful.

    Thanks Sarah. Your reality checks are always appreciated.

  4. alex says:

    a victory log..wonderful idea! i will write it on my to-do list LOL..no I get it ;)

    I think it’s a wonderful idea, a challenge I am happy to take on.
    Thank you.

  5. ami says:

    I have been doing this this very week! I was just glancing over at my victory log, an Open Office document entitled “dailies”, and smiling at all those bullet points of accomplishments.

    I love posts like this, that are at once calls to better action, and also humble; the image of you thinking about taking your own advice is one I can all too easily relate to!

  6. patte in ri says:

    great message, especially as we are in the chill of February.
    We don’t homeschool but again your experience echoes one here. Our daughter is hitting a few bumps in schoolwork and it seems all we’ve said is reminders/nagging. On Tuesday as she was going to bed, I thought of all she had not gotten done and almost began to say them rotely. But for some reason, I chose instead to say, “Look at all you did do today,” and she responded, “But I didn’t do…” and I was hit with how much she’s absorbed. Mother guilt, sigh, so I gulped back the tears, and reminded her again of what she did finish, that we know she’s trying and that the next day was a whole new day to enjoy. Now to remember that myself!

  7. Lisa says:

    That burst is something to make any mother beam: “Maturity” and I bet there are days you thought it would never end with, “thy name is Tias.” Smiling with you here in Ohio……

  8. shannon says:

    That is the most inspiring thing I have read in a long time! The VERY thing I needed today. Now, to put it into practice…A victory log.

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