This post could have just as easily have been entitled “Second Week of Summer,” but my heart is not to document how we spend each week of what I anticipate to be a 10-week break from our school routine. But this was a week of “ah-has,” as we called them in my corporate days–the point at which I had to heed to the teachable moment.
It happened quickly, as teachable moments often do, and I was left to marinate what the moment meant to me for days afterward. After picking up the oldest from her volunteer work, I had to run inside a grocery store. I had all three children with me when we ran into a friend from church. She immediately recognized the oldest’s volunteer jacket, and they had a brief dialogue about how much the oldest was enjoying her opportunity. Then our friend asked our son, “And what are you doing this summer?” With all the honesty and candor of a child, he replied, “Nothing.” She played it off well, saying that “nothing can be good sometimes, too,” and I smiled in agreement, but inside I was crushed. (Gasp!!) My child saying that he was doing nothing this summer?!!
Of course, he is not actually doing nothing. We’re completing a minimal amount of school. He and his dad are set for a record to see every superhero movie out this summer, and he’ll attend a dance workshop later in the summer. However, given that I normally have camps planned and at least one trip in the works, hearing him tell someone that he’s doing nothing was awkward. It’s like when someone asked your homeschooled kid, who might have a 7th grade science book, a 6th grade math text, a 5th grade English workbook, and read on a 10th grade level, what grade he/ she is in. When the kid replies, “I don’t know,” it’s just not a good look.
While this short scene marinated in my mind, it occurred to me that I’d been so psychologically preoccupied with getting the oldest’s plans and activities in order until I let everything else go. Moreover, her daily activities are taking over our summer such that I have a hard time sitting to think and accomplish other tasks. To begin with, during our more formalized school time, I normally wake up when my husband awakens, but I don’t get up until around 7:30. This gives me–in theory–at least an hour by myself before I awaken the kids to meditate on the Lord, have my own worship time, get a headstart on breakfast, or catch up on some last-minute project from the night before. Summer was supposed to be more-laid back and relaxed. Instead, I now have to get up every morning by 7 a.m. at the latest so that the oldest can get to school on time. Even on Fridays when she has no class, she’s taken on extra volunteer opportunities, and so I’m still up early to have her in place. And almost all the flexibility that homeschooling allows into our schedule is gone as we adjust ourselves to having to meet others’ time and deadlines.
So our younger two are left to their own devices this summer–at least, so far, and I’m having to
learn re-learn a few things, too. 1st lesson: it’s okay at times to have nothing to do, aka Miss Mason’s “masterly inactivity.” I love seeing the kids turn off the television on their own. Our son, a huge fan of author Rick Riordan (of “Percy Jackson and the Olympians” fame), has taken on the task of an avid reader–to read what his favorite authors read, and thereby to gain more insight into their perspective. So, there are long periods of the day when we don’t see him, but I pass by to be sure that he’s still breathing. I often find him on his futon with his head in a book.
The youngest could come up with a brand new project, complete with its brand new mess, about once per hour, if I let her. But, with her time, she created a family restaurant out of all the chairs and tv trays in the house (and she accidentally deleted my picture of it), where we decided to eat and have dinner once per month. She’s learned basic sewing stitches well enough to make purses for her and her dolls. Today, she made a tent of quilts and chairs where she and the dogs could nap, in case she actually takes a nap, which would be enough reason to take a picture.
I can be taught, too. I can learn that I don’t have full control of my schedule as I accustomed to having, and that’s okay. I can sew. I can read. I can plan. I can work. I can even take a mid-day nap. Wow, this do-nothing summer might just work out after all.