My life is very different these days. I have every hour accounted for with homeschooling and keeping up with all the other things around the house. We have narrowed things down to keep our sanity intact, and we have a pleasant daily routine that thankfully is uneventful. But I am afraid it doesn't make for any insightful blogs. I am in learning mode myself...ministry learning...education learning...specific subject learning...and it is all occupying great gobs of brain space. However, it doesn't translate into much of interest to anyone else, it is largely internal stuff going on.
And if we are blessed, life will continue on like this for some time to come, and I do mean it would be a great blessing if there were no great drama in our lives for a very long time. I find that my new life leaves me a very boring person to be with. I feel "dull" in so many ways. In conversation with friends there is not much to talk about, as my "job" is homeschooling my kids and who wants to hear about that? There are no office trysts to gossip about, no rumors about downsizing, no new software being developed, nothing...just learning about phonics and adverbs and such. I have almost no friends in "real life" whose lives revolve around seeking out curriculum, dissecting test scores, and creating unit studies. There are no "colleagues", except for a small few I have connected with online. I am growing used to it, but I am also seeing how hard it might be for others to find any interest in me at this stage in my life. Don't get me wrong, I have never exactly been a fascinating person, but these days I am far more of a dullard than I have ever been!
We are facing new stages with the kids as they mature, and Dominick and I are now having to evaluate what direction we will take with them all. While we haven't yet been asked about things such as cell phones, Facebook or dating yet, those questions will be coming down the pike all too soon and we want to be prepared with thoughtful decisions. Striking the right balance will not be easy, and as we talk about things we are finding we are likely to be in the minority with many of our parenting decisions. There have been 3 or 4 things that have come up this past week in conversation that have led us to talk more deeply about this next stage, and I quickly realized that the "tween" stage might be the most confusing to parent.
Today's society seems hell bent on lowering our understanding of what a teenager is to now include children at 11 or 12 years old, and I am deeply conflicted over it all. It's not about wanting to keep them children forever and under our wings, it is more about not encouraging (or expecting) a child of 11 or 12 to be engaged in behavior that used to be reserved for 16-17 year olds. Every generation it seems childhood has shortened, and then we adults complain that our young children act like teenagers. What do we expect? We send them the signal that they are already largely "grown up" when they hit the decade mark, then we are disgusted with their attitude when they act exactly like what we tell them they are...teenagers. We allow kids as young as 9 or 10 to withdraw with iPods and text messages, then wonder why they value their pre-teen culture more than their families.
And then sometimes I think I am a parenting freak of nature who is totally screwed up myself. There are lines that we will have to draw that are not clear yet where they should be drawn. I have always been a hodge podge of conservative and liberal beliefs, usually compartmentalized and more conservative at home and globally more liberal on larger issues. In time I am sure we will discover where our line is, and in our case with our specific kids from their unique backgrounds, those lines may be drawn in different places for each child. Only time will tell, I guess. But as voices begin to change and worlds widen, we are definitely entering the Twilight Zone of parenting!
In the meantime, here are a few pictures of what has been going on around here the past couple of weeks. I know they are not exciting, but I figured an illustration of our less-than-thrilling day to day existence is better than a thousand words...but then you probably got the thousand boring words in this post as well! Hahaha!
Kenny's Halloween costume...Hmmm...I am thinking seriously that clown school might be in order! He did his own makeup on this.
We all have been amazed and proud of Joshua. With an age gap of 4-5 years between he and all the other kids, he has proven to be a terrific student. Of course, we are teaching most of the material at the level of a first or second grader, but as you can imagine, the ability of an 11 or 12 year old to fly through some of it or grasp concepts more quickly is obviously a big advantage. I was concerned initially about Josh being left in the dust or not having the attention span of the others. Surprise, surprise, it is often HE he sets the tone and models terrific study habits! Other than taking longer to complete written work because of motor skill development that is behind the older ones, there has been very little difference between his speed of learning and everyone else's. All of us have made a point of letting him know how proud we are of him, and we really and truly are!
This project might take us weeks longer than anticipated because every single one of the kids kept stopping to read something or share a cool photo with the group. "Hey Mom...look at this!" was the refrain of the afternoon. The cool thing about homeschooling is we CAN take that time to read, discover and learn as new things we encounter carry us off in different directions. Our time is ours, and learning can be broader and interest based to a certain degree. It is such fun to watch as the kids find something that fascinates them. I am beginning to understand why someone would choose a career as an educator.
It is off to bed now, we have a long day tomorrow and everyone is excited about Halloween!