Thursday, September 27, 2012

Stock School, goodness and truth

Yesterday, the day I began this post, was the kind of grey, misty day that makes you long to light candles and curl up with books under old quilts with cups of tea.  So, we did.

Then we went to the library, sloshing through puddles with bright pink umbrellas.  The library is peaceful and cozy at this time of day, we take our time, checking out great piles of books.  Then, more tea, more quilts, more books.  Lentil curry on the stove.  Later pumpkin cookies in the oven.

This is one of the things I love about homeschool; choosing what the day needs, following our own paths, wrapping ourselves in the moment.  We can stomp in puddles at ten in the morning.  We are home to see the way the shadows fall at two in the afternoon. This is a gift, one I don't take lightly.

I won't write that our days are easy or smooth, there are plenty of challenges, but first, why I am finding the challenges to be worth it:

First and most importantly, we see Sami thriving.  She is happy, settled, confidant, enthusiastic.  Jim commented the other day on the one statement we heard over and over from her teachers last year; "She is starting to come out of her shell."  She must have not said a word all year.  We know that she is bent toward introversion, and by the time she came home in the afternoons the day had taken all the energy right out of her.  Now, somedays she never stops talking.

She is a kind-hearted, responsible and hard working little person.  I have quit worrying about her "socialization".  For one, like my pastor/friend Nan pointed out, at this age her family is her socialization.  We are the environment where she can safely learn how to love her neighbor as herself, under our guidance and protection.  This also helps make the friends and cousins in her small circles that much more precious.  As our children grow and mature they will of course branch out into broader social circles; I do not need to rush that.

She is learning.  Rapidly, eagerly.  And I get to be a part of it, which honestly, is so much fun.

I can do this.  I don't know now why I was so fearful.  Just like any other aspect of mothering, I find that it is completely natural to teach our own.  (NOT that there is anything wrong with choosing not to, of course).

Homeschool in the city is especially great as there are so many endless options for homeschoolers.  Sometimes too many.

I could go on about things we love about homeschool (not hectic mornings, not packing lunches, not cleaning out backpacks . ..) but I don't want to paint the picture entirely rosy, either.  This is, also, hard.

Here are some negatives:

I feel some days like that mother cat whose kittens are piled on top of her.  My three girls follow me from room to room, chattering all at once, all. day. long.  I am sure there will be a day when they are independent and I wish they would spend more time with me.  This is what I keep telling myself.

There isn't me Me-Time.  There just isn't.  Jim works hard, and a lot.  My writing goals have slid into oblivion in the past few weeks, and I feel both constant nagging guilt and annoyance with myself that I cannot seem to do both; lately this is making me slightly depressed.

I am still have a hard time keeping Josie happy and Annie interested while we are doing school.  They both want to be at the table with us, and I want them to be there, but there is a lot of activity happening at once. 

Here are a few highlights from the past two weeks of Stock School:

First up, a much-anticipated trip to the Cleveland Zoo with Nana, Papa, and their cousin Brody.  A week later, they are still talking about the zoo.  Apparently we forgot to see the zebras.

 Over the weekend we visited the Holden Arboretum.  We had never been there and were quite impressed.  There is a fabulous children's play area- Buckeye Bud's Adventure Woods.  It was a beautiful day and the kids loved it.  We will be back here for sure.

No, every day of homeschool is not smooth, but even our not-good days do not make me wish for anything different.  When things are clicking and everyone is cooperating and learning, this is, truly, so much fun.

Housekeeping by Marilynne Robinson

I did not love this as much as Gilead, but then the stories are entirely different.  Housekeeping is similarly aching and fluid, though not an easy book to read.  I agree with one reviewer who wrote, "the plot is hardly the point, however.  The words are."  I learned today that she wrote this without ever expecting it would be published, in fact it was a friend who sent the manuscript to an agent.  Several brilliant passages, here's one:
 "To crave and to have are as like as a thing and its shadow. For when does a berry break upon the tongue as sweetly as when one longs to taste it, and when is the taste refracted into so many hues and savors of ripeness and earth, and when do our senses know any thing so utterly as when we lack it? And here again is a foreshadowing -- the world will be made whole. For to wish for a hand on one's hair is all but to feel it. So whatever we may lose, very craving gives it back to us again."

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