Spring must be here, because I’m feeling up my chickens.
Let me be precise: two kids are already in the car, we HAVE TO GO, and I am feeling my chickens’ tits (which somehow seems the right word) because son #1 believes that one of the chickens has a growth on its chest. So, we can’t just feel up ONE chicken, no, but in the interest of proper scientific methodology we must do a chicken boob comparison. A rather hurried one at that, which makes the whole enterprise feel a little, well, dirty.
Can you tell people you were late for class because you were feeling up your chickens?
One of the hardest things I have found about home schooling is that nothing -- really, NOTHING goes as planned, ever. Some days things go better, like when everyone is vomiting and confined to bed and has no choice but to read all the historical novels you throw at them. Other days, we spend half an hour looking for everyone’s books and praying to the thoroughly secular god of lost pencils, St. Ticonderoga, for just one little stubby offering, or navigating the brain-sloshing timewarp of sequential toothbrushing and music practice. When you’ve got one doctor’s appointment, nobody gets any school work done, or when someone throws a nutty or sulks because they can’t do their math or walks around the table in circles making inexplicable chicken noises.
This is what it feels like in March. We’re tired, we’re cranky, we’re sick of being cooped up with each other over a long, hard winter and the course of at least four ass-tacular stomach bugs. We’re just managing to start the second “half” of our school year (did I mention it was March?) and it feels like I’m running on carbon dioxide, which never ends well. All of the gremlins are out, even the little bugger that says “what about the socialization?” Am I really doing right by the poor pre-pubescent who’s lonely half the time and physically disturbed by our presence the rest of the time? What about those efficient little schoolchildren who walk from one class to another in the time it takes for two bells to ring? They all start school on time and know where their stuff is, don’t they?
If you homeschool and are a control freak (raise your hand, I know you are) take a deep breath. Chickens do not have boobs as we know them, and you are not in control. I don’t like this either, though the part about the chickens really doesn’t bother me. What does bother me is the feeling of emptiness that comes from doing something really hard without the faith or inspiration to back it up. God hasn’t told me to home school, and neither has anyone else. Last I checked, it was my own idea. So who am I to complain? You know how that feels, unless you have people breaking down your door to tell you what a wonderful job you’re doing.
So what can you do? I’m wondering if faith isn’t about what you believe in as much as what you don’t. If I don’t look behind me, I don’t notice the looming piles of crap and mounds of laundry. No one else seems to. Maybe there’s a metaphor in there. I don’t need to believe in some sort of perfection I can’t achieve. I don’t need the feeling that I’m failing every time my kids can’t find one of their books or doesn’t remember how to do something I taught them just the other day. What if I just check all those expectations and misguided ideas of what home schooling should look like right out the door with all the bags of too-small clothes and old papers? What if it’s really about the journey and just being brave enough to put one foot in front of the other and not look back? What if there are really only a very few things that are important?
What remains to be seen this spring is whether it will be easier to clean out my mind, or my house. Those of you who know me, place your bets now and enjoy the entertainment.
Heck, maybe I'll just walk outside now, not look back, and go feel up my roosters.
For James Vance, and his family
2 months ago