Thursday, February 18, 2016

Who Blazed the Wilderness Trail?

“Who blazed the Wilderness Trail?”

Sitting in my usual place at the kitchen table, I quietly sat with the textbook in hand and my head turning from one child to the other. Peanut sat chewing on the end of her pen, halfway sitting on the chair. Her mind looked like it was anywhere, but on pioneers heading to Kentucky. Jelly Bean, though focused, was putting all her efforts into drawing a picture on the back of her math worksheet. She proudly held it up one hand revealing a drawing of her holding a can of Sprite. My eyes scanned over to her other hand which held up the actual can.

“Nobody remembers? We talked about him at the beginning of the week!” My grumpiness was evident in response to the lack of participation. I was also not hiding a pounding headache very well. Maybe, I thought, if I didn’t think I was talking to just myself, I wouldn’t get a headache as often.
Jelly Bean pops up and yells out, “Johnny?” Immediately, Peanut decides to reinforce this answer with an echo of the same name.

“Don’t you remember?” As I summarized key facts about the pioneer in question, my mind began to wander. The word pioneer has been a part of my own understanding since I was a little girl. Studying early American History is typical in education. Early settlers who left the familiarity of their old home in search for new opportunities, freedoms, and prospects are the reason we even have this great country.

People who “risked it all” for a better way of life. People who had to literally start over from scratch with only the things they could handle during the move. Some arrived by large ships like the Mayflower. Others walked on foot or by horse as they traveled westward. As time went on, other modes of transportation would get people from one point to the other, but the result was always the same. These people went from point A to point B and started over.

We are getting ready to start over.

Soon we will pack up what little possessions we have left and we will travel across the border westward. We will blaze a new trail. Leaving everyone we know and love, we will venture out into the great unknown. Not knowing a soul, we will have to make our way to creating a new home. We will have to stretch out of our comfort zones and meet people.

Certainly the early pioneers faced many challenges. Our modern day challenges will pale in comparison. Yet, I sat there wishing that I could feel just a small measure of the bravery they had when they set out on their journey.

Suddenly, Peanut blurts out, “Daniel Boone!” She begins to chatter about the cool story we had learned about him tricking Indians who were trying to attack him.

My focus shifts back to our lesson as I scan over the questions and I stop at one that perks my interest.

“Okay, what would a man need to have in order to survive in the wilderness?” I secretly was waiting for smart alec answers like Doritos, chewing gum, or the iPad.

But instead my girls surprised me.

“An ax.”

“A gun.”

“A knife.”

“Food. Things to cook with.”

I nodded my approval and replied that these were all good things for them to have. Having all of these items would make it easier to eat, stay safe, and to set up a camp. I imagine that I would want all these things, too, if it were me.

Still the idea of packing up and leaving, unaware of what dangers lurk around, as well as what would be found upon arrival still baffled me. How could anyone just do that? Their way was so hard. How did they have the faith to just…go?

Later as I was settling into my evening after a busy day, I looked at my girls playing with each other. Everyone seemed at peace. As much time as we all spend together, being together is what we like best. A hopeful reply to my earlier answer settled in my mind. Family. That is why they could go. Often times, they went together.

A home isn’t a certain building on a certain street in a certain city of a certain state. Home is where your people are at. A family makes a home.

How can I have the faith to just…go? I can because as long as I have my husband and my daughters, I will always be at home no matter where the trail takes us.

Why Do You Homeschool?

For years, I pondered the idea of homeschooling my daughters. After all, I knew several friends who were homeschooling their children and they were doing it well. When I first started talking about it with my husband, my daughters were only three years old. We still had a couple years before we really needed to worry about it, but at the time we both agreed that we didn't have what it would take to homeschool our kids.

In our minds, homeschooling families were on-the-go, active, engaged families who went on field trips every day and were involved in everything. Surely in order to be successful at homeschooling, children need to be "socialized" and in order to do that, it takes an active family that purposefully initiates contact with the outside world on a regular, daily basis.

If the kids were not going to go to school Monday through Friday where they can be "properly" socialized, it would be up to us to ensure they receive these vital life lessons. There was just one problem with this. We are not what you call social people to be begin with.

We are introverts.

So, how could we responsibly give our children a well rounded educational experience when we were not the go-getting type of parents who would willingly and joyfully sign their kids up for every sport, activity, and hobby under the sun? These parents schedule back-to-back commitments with a smile and eagerness. Not only would they do that, they would be the coach, the parent volunteer, coordinate the ice cream social, and still have time to put a five course dinner on the table.

This idea scared me.

As I considered every excuse as to why I didn't qualify for being an adequate teacher for my children, I was reminded of these truths:

1. I loved my children more than anyone else in the world.

2. I cared about my children's education and their future more than anyone else in the world.

3. I would do whatever it took to ensure they received what they needed to develop in all aspects of their life in a way that was fitting for our family.

4. What they learned was important to me and ensuring that was founded on biblical truth.

5. Letting them explore who they were and letting education come naturally was important.

When I consider the truths listed above, it reminds me why I am homeschooling my children. And it is exciting to see how my kiddos have blossomed into more confident social creatures outside of the brick and mortar school. They are learning to engage people of all ages, to be kind to those younger than they, and find humility when they are not treated kindly back by those who have embraced the age/social pecking order of the public school world.

I am also learning the balance of homeschooling my children and not getting caught up in the doing-it-all mentality. Taking care of myself is a vital part of maintaining order in the household. While I am not always perfectly in line with my energy levels as an introvert and our daily workload, I remind myself why we are doing what we are doing. All I have to do is remember, and the idea of homeschooling doesn't scare me anymore.