Making Connections

You’ll have noticed that I haven’t posted much about homeschooling in a while. There are a few reasons for this: we’re on mellow stretch as we enjoy the World Cup and the Africa unit study, things with Sandra have really smoothed out in terms of her vision problems and I’m just enjoying what a wonderful person she is and trying to get her up to grade level, and then there is the last reason: the struggle.

The same struggle as always, it seems.

The struggle to homeschool a tornado.

The struggle to keep my fears out of this journey.

Matthias is incredible and incredibly frustrating. He’s like a tornado or some other force of nature: he’s unpredictable, wild, and there’s no point in trying to argue with that fact. You just can’t persuade a tornado, after all. His ability to live in the moment, to be full of an emotion, to forget about the past and the future and live utterly with what is before him is a lesson in mindfulness that is like a Zen retreat. Since his birth, I have learned an astonishing amount about the dangers of living in your head, the futility of making plans, and the beauty of mindful awareness.

It’s not easy, though, to parent – and especially to homeschool – someone so far off the beaten track. I wrote the other day in my journal: “I need to remember that Matthias is not broken. He does not need to be fixed. He’s not an imperfect version of someone else.” It’s a lesson I seem to confront time and time again, proof that I do live in my head, that I do compare, that I do worry that he’s not on the same path as everyone else.  He’s not broken.

Which is so funny, in that ironic and frustrating banging-my-head-on-the-same-wall sort of funny. I homeschool because I don’t believe in mass-producing people. I homeschool so that my kids can pursue their strengths and never learn to label themselves by their weaknesses. I homeschool because I don’t believe in one path for all people. And yet my biggest problem is accepting that my son’s path does not look normal. My biggest problem is confronting my fear that I am damaging him by not forcing him to learn set tasks at a set pace.

If there is no one right path to growing up – to being a person – isn’t the only way to fail at this job to try to force the journey?


making connections


He’s so different than I am. I struggle to make connections between his way of being human and my way of being human. He can’t tell me what he needs – analytical conversations are not his forte. What works is paying complete attention to him in each moment and trying to work with what is going on.

This week, Rainer and I had a long walk and a serious talk about whether I was failing at this homeschooling gig. I learned that he supports me and believes that Tias is on track for whatever his path and his time-table turn out to be.  We might not know where he’s heading and when he’ll arrive, but he’s right where he is.  It’s that Winnie the Pooh insight: “Wherever you go, there you are.” We tried to figure out what would interest Tias, what would draw him in.We ended up shrugging our shoulders.

The next morning Tias saw the science kits I’d ordered. He wanted to start the Electronics kit. I said no. I wanted to read both manuals, get a sense of them, look at the library to see if there were extra books to supplement the topics, and then block out a rough schedule.

Seriously? Are you shouting at the monitor? You should be.

I’m pretty thick some mornings. Luckily Rainer was there and overruled me.

The little worries about homeschooling have faded since the early days. The big ones don’t really go away. It’s funny how all the fears relate more to me and my issues than to the kids and their issues.


13 thoughts on “Making Connections

  1. hopewellmomschoolagain says:

    Oh my sister! I am there with you in spirit. Imagine the flip-side: locking him in a classroom, having him constantly punished for just being himself, seeing him shut down, change personality and hate himself. Don’t change what you are doing–give in to more moments like the science kits. He IS learning so much more than he’d ever get in school. I’m sitting here with his spiritual brother at almost 16 trying to undo the damage. Don’t loose faith–it will work. Let him do triathelons and build things, draw things, spin wool–whatever. Don’t force him. It’s so hard to be “that kid’s Mom” because he IS different. It IS hard to rejoice in those differences some days. You are doing such a fabulous job supporting him, don’t stop! Have you ever seen the kid’s movie “Spirit” about the horse? I’m sure he would be nodding his head thru it all!! Don’t lose heart–it’s working and be thankful he has such a supportive Dad, too! It will all come together someday–like Sandra’s reading. Wish I was there to hug you, bring you a nice cup of tea a remind you gently that we mothers of kids who don’t fit the mold are a true Sisterhood.

  2. catalinakel says:

    Does it help to know that these thoughts come up for all of us on a regular basis? It is beautiful to hear your heart….thanks for sharing?

  3. Kika says:

    That last part about Tias starting the electronics kit & your reaction/thought process had me laughing (not yelling at the screen)! I can so relate. I think it is wonderful having kids who stretch us and help us start to see people different from us with new respect… starting with our kiddos. Thanks for sharing your journey.

  4. nicolaknits says:

    I too know exactly what you mean. My demands of my children usually stem from a fear that they’re not going to have the “right” skills for later on – but they just want to live in the moment and enjoy life. Let’s not break their spirits but embrace them as they are. Thanks for the reminder.

  5. farrarwilliams says:

    Thank you for those thoughts. There’s not one right way to do things. Just because my kids are different from me doesn’t mean they’re broken. I know it, but so good to hear it.

  6. Jacinda says:

    That last sentence is what I notice over and over and am learning to laugh at; trusting that it is my fear, my expectations, my inadequacies that I am struggling with each day. In fact I think living with my own “stuff” and having it reflected back at me most days is what is really the challenging work of homeschooling but is also the work that continues to help me to become the parent/person I want to be. Oh and don’t you love partners/husbands who can help steer us through when we have lost the way.

  7. 3kinder says:

    Yeah, all that. Just yesterday I confronted the “she’s not broken” mentality burried in myself. Sheesh, I thought maybe I’d conqured that. What a fool I am.
    You’re not alone dear friend, no way no how.
    Tis good to share!
    Blessings ~

  8. suse says:

    Another quote for you: ‘I may not have gone where i intended to go, but i think i have ended up where i needed to be.’ –douglas adams.

    Also, have you read The Indigo Child? It helped a friend of mine with her journey with her tornado 🙂

  9. Rosa May says:

    Sarah loved this post. Such a real expression, so refreshing. I find it quite interesting that even in homeschooling there is a normal . Or should I say an expectation. Having put two of the girls back in school I chuckle as people say “Oh well she’s home schooled she should have no trouble withd the accidemics of high school.
    Every day I have to fight the fact that these children are not extentions of me but only loaned to me for a short while. They are seperate people each different each packaged with a special purpose for their creator. I know the words but being a pack animal myself It takes a great deal of effort and repetition for me to take it into action. Hope your summer is going well.

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