(originally written 2007)
You know those moments when you say to yourself, “What was I thinking?” Today all of my carefully laid plans went straight into the circular file. My daughter fought me tooth and nail over her math lesson, drawing angular doodles and filling in all the ‘holes’ in the 9’s and 6’s and 4’s on the worksheet. When I’d try to get her to focus, walking her through a problem, she’d start spouting out wild, random numbers: “Ten? Fourteen! Oh… seven.” All of which, of course, were wrong.
When she was supposed to be listening to the history story, she proceeded to unravel half the blanket she had wrapped herself in. In our language arts lesson, her response to “what was the action verb in that sentence” was, “uh, ‘little?’”
I said, “OK, so you think ‘little’ is the verb. I’m going to ‘little’ now!” We turned our angry little scrunched up faces towards each other then burst out laughing.
Sometimes I worry. I don’t have a degree in education theory for primary school. Am I really covering everything she’ll need to know? How will she ever get into college? What future can she possible have? Will she be able to “fit in” to regular society? Will she be able to get a job? Will she end up a bag lady on the street because her momma refused to let her get an education? Surely I’ll die alone in a state-run nursing home because I decided to homeschool my children.
(sound of needle scratching on a record) Let’s get back to reality. My daughter is seven years old. It’s only Tuesday. Some days are simply less productive than others.
Don’t we all worry if we’re making the right choices for our kids? What a huge responsibility–this life that we are molding, shaping. Will it be our fault if they don’t do well? Then do we get to take credit when they graduate valedictorian, engineer a new, renewable, earth-friendly fuel, or become President? No.
As much as I’d love to have that power, I am not God, and that’s a good thing. My job is to do the best I can with the information and resources that I have. Today, maybe the best thing we can do is dance to some silly music and play a few rounds of animal guesses. Tomorrow we can focus on the math facts of nine and what a helping verb is. Maybe next year we’ll send her to public school. We don’t need to decide on her master’s thesis today.
At the end of the day, I may be the one who got the biggest lesson. I learned to trust myself, and to trust my daughter, and to let her learn in her own way, on a timetable that works for her. I learned to be in the moment, listen to that still, small voice within, and dance.