I had a strange experience today – not in terms of the Netflix show – but one that caused me to really reflect on why certain emotions were stirring around in my heart.
I was at my son’s elementary school today for “game day” where parents bring in a board game to play with members of the class for a little while. It’s the end of the school year and I expect they fill a lot of these days with random fun to pass those last agonizing days by.
My son was so excited I was there, and asked if I would keep my “visitor” sticker after I left – I suspect so he could play with it later. The checkers matches I observed were fun, full of hilarious skill, and I enjoyed my time in the class. Following a thankful embrace from my seven-year-old who felt super proud to have his mommy there, I slowly sauntered out of the school, down the long hallways full of painted murals of the Himalayan mountains and other important world landmarks. I looked down and realized why my son was so good at counting by twos and fives. They had the numbers 2-20 or 5-100 laid out in a path at various parts of the hall.
I felt two emotions: worry and loss. I realized I was mourning the loss of tradition that I had known as a young kid, as traditional school was all I had ever known. So many of the things I experienced, I know my children never will. Or rather, never will again. My two oldest experienced the book fairs, fall festivals, field trips, and back-to-school nights. My daughter in preschool got to experience taking a lunch to school, picking out a backpack, and learning from a teacher in a formal classroom. So while it feels like a loss, I know they have had exposure to those traditional experiences. They just won’t have them for 13 years the way I did.
This is where my mourning/loss shifted momentarily into bliss and then worry. Bliss knowing my kids would experience very different things, which would be far beyond what I ever did as a child or teen. They will see the world firsthand, will be taught about God in the home right alongside their textbooks. We will be able to bond together and spend countless hours learning to count, read, play boardgames, and so much more.
But then the worry – what if I can’t come anywhere close to what they would have learned in the classroom? They have a whole team of educators helping these kids to learn. They are educated in how to teach; they spend countless hours on lesson plans and schedules. They know what they’re doing… do I?
Here’s the thing – we are conditioned to stay in our safety zone. Schools are perceived as the BEST way to educate, and they have been a cherished blessing in the United States for decades – no – centuries. It’s the known route, the obvious route for millions of families. Homeschool, while it has come SO far since I first learned about it as a kid, is still only practiced by a small minority. And within that crowd there are a million ways in which to homeschool your kids. Uncertainty? It’s the definition of my new role as the primary educator for my kids.
But I do know this: the conviction I felt when I realized I had a special responsibility to MY children to teach them at home, to make sure God was never removed from their education, and to give them endless opportunities to learn first hand about the world around them was powerful.
So regardless of what we are giving up, I have a feeling we are about to get far more in return. I guess it’s time to let the real games begin.