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?
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.