Taking a break from the house on this last (hopefully) beautiful winter day of snow and ice, we took a family walk up the road. There were no car tracks. The woods were quiet and beautiful. Every tree branch was laced with ice, glittering even under the gray sky. The snow crunched under our feet. We looked for tracks in the snow. We found deer, turkey, squirrel, possum, and coyote. We followed them sometimes, seeing which way they were headed, guessing at what pace they traveled and what size they might have been from those clues on the ground.
Coming home, we followed our own tracks, each their own size, traveling at their own pace. And there were the tracks that Lulah made, very particularly her own.
It sounds amazingly simple to say what I’m thinking. But I’m amazed at how many times I have to be reminded about simple things.
My children are not me.
Obvious, right? Of course. I know that, and have known it all along. But, they are closer to being me than anyone else, except my parents maybe. And there are moments when we can still be surprised by what we already know.
This long cold winter has been a good time to play catch up on some academics that we sensed were missing in Lulah’s natural learning process. We’ve enhanced the structure of our homeschooling. There are still no set hours, but it is generally accepted that after breakfast Lulah and I will sit and do some math, some reading, and this and that as appropriate. If I feel like we need more, we’ll pick it up again after lunch, or make a quick review before dinner.
I’ve become inspired to model our academic structure after that which was in place in the early years of this country. Back then there was fluctuation in the school year schedule according to the rhythms of farm life, because most everyone was a farmer of some kind. When the kids went to school, it was a big part of their lives, and they learned a lot. Then, they were off, with work to do in the fields and at home. I get that. There’s still a lot of learning going on in the fields and at home, so the fluctuating schedule was complimentary. Both activities were viewed as honorable opportunities, and responsibilities. That’s the balance I was hoping to strike.
Lulah has not necessarily shared my enthusiasm for this concept. I wouldn’t say its been a constant battle, but there’s been some nasty friction, some challenges for both of us.
She’s a strong willed girl, and always has been. But I am surprise by how frustrated I can get with her. I’ve always considered myself patient, but I’m not as patient as I’d like to be. What’s wrong with me? I’ve made my expectations clear. I try to communicate what we’re doing in a way that makes sense. Why does she resist so much? Why is this so hard?
The answer I hear: she is not me.
I’m communicating the way that I can understand. I’m teaching the way that I learned. Truth be told, there are some ways that I’ve learned that I’d rather she NOT. So I have to re-evaluate.
This is the time to be patient with myself too. I am the person that I know best. It’s not unnatural to use ourselves as the example of “normal” and structure our approach to others accordingly, but it’s not always a working strategy. As she grows more and more into her own character and personality, I have to take the time to learn about her. What a wonderful opportunity.
She’s a much more physically inclined child than I was. I don’t remember turning cartwheels at her age, especially on one arm! I loved to read more than anything, and I was a bit of a brooder. She would rather move her body, and she’s certainly not hesitant to express herself. My fascinations usually tended toward the mystical – unicorns, mermaids, aliens. There’s a fascination in that for her, too, but she’s in love with horses, real ones. Her mind works differently than mine, maybe slightly more like her father’s, but really – she is her own person. Though I will certainly influence her and leave my tracks in her life, ultimately, she will make her own tracks in the world.
So I learn that I’m only just beginning to get to know this person who has been with me since her first cell divided. The more I relax into the process of learning about her, the more we relax together in the process of home schooling, and we are rewarded with a more harmonious home. Not to say we won’t still frustrate each other from time to time. Sometimes growing together is a challenge. In this life we’ve chosen, we commit to facing that challenge.
Our road is a clean slate after the snow.
We walk out together to explore, and we all make our own tracks.