Well, here we are. Today, July 22, is our first day back to school. We school year-round, but still take a longer break (this year, about a month and a half) for the early summer to relax and so that I can get the new plan ready to roll.
We’re starting slow this year: for the next three weeks we’ll be doing only math, circle time, Latin, and phonics. Next week and the week after that, the kids will also have swimming lessons and the boys will take a watercolor class, so I need to keep the school schedule light. Mostly we’ll be spending these weeks reviewing, starting those mental gears back up, and establishing the morning routine pattern so that we’ll be ready to rock when we begin the whole smash.
And, with the lighter start, we still have time for park days, wading pools, riding bikes with friends, and gardening.
And maybe I won’t even go crazy and burn out after the second day. That’d be a bonus.
First days have almost always been hard around here, and I believe it’s because the children build up their own high expectations and hopes which, try as I might to keep the mood positive, come crashing down when they realize math is still hard, Circle Time still requires manners, and the shiny new book or subject they were looking forward to is going to be hard.
We had all of that today, but we also had times of overcoming those let-downs, of recovering from a meltdown, and of soldiering on through review that turned out to be difficult.
We held our first one-on-one meetings and had good talks about how learning works like exercise: it requires pushing on when you feel tired and want to give up, which results in more strength and speed. Getting stronger can hurt in the moment, but that is the feeling of your abilities growing. Suddenly, what was once hard is now easy. But the math facts or the Latin grammar didn’t change. Your ability increased. You’re stronger, faster, smarter because you worked through the resistance-point.
It was a good conversation and it bore fruit.
The children are not the only ones who will be strength-training this year, who will be required to push through the resistance-point. Fifth grade, third grade, budding-reader, active 3-year-old boy, and nursing baby is a combination that will push me to increase my stamina and abilities (not to mention
time- self-management). As I was pep-talking the boys, I realized just how applicable it will be to myself as well. Feeling like I can’t do it, like I want to give up and go eat chocolate, is inevitable. It’s how I will respond in those moments that will determine whether I grow or shrivel.
I do not want to be praying that God would make everything easy. I want to be praying that God will make me strong. I know that He has a plan. I know that He has the grace we need to finish the hard things in a way that honors Him. The problem is that often we are comfortable in our spiritually soft bodies. We would like to sit around in our bad attitude sweatpants eating the Cheetos of selfishness. But God is calling us to more, and sometimes that call brings us to our knees to ask Him to be quiet.
Yes, I have bad-attitude sweatpants and a secret stash of Cheetos of selfishness. The life we are called to live – whatever that life is for each of us – is one in which God wants to be training us, not just letting us coast, decrepit in our motorized wheelchairs, into heaven at last. Those hard moments are the training moments, not the proof of failure.
And, now, time to apply that in real life and start my afternoon chores.