As I’ve prepped for our new home school year this month, I’ve cleaned out our art supply box. I sharpened so many colored pencils (some of them I sharpened over and over, because the tips tend to break inside the sharpener) that I now have a slight callous on my pointer finger where I held each pencil and twisted it around and around to get it sharpened to a point. Even so, I’m thankful to have a more organized basket of supplies (markers in one bag, pencils in another, crayons in their own bag).
I’ve also worked on preparing for our art study for this year. These bright ideas have been tremendously helpful: the Charlotte Mason picture study method, and this plan for elaborating on that. I have feasted my eyes on beautiful art as I’ve selected the pieces that we will enjoy this school year.
Today, I looked over a piece by James Tissot illustrating his rendition of the return of the prodigal son. My older son saw it on my laptop screen, peered closely, and discovered he could zoom in on the picture. A minute later, he declares, “I’m going to focus in on that dog’s behind.” In case you don’t spend much time around little boys, that’s JUST. HOW. THEY. ARE. He will thrill to experience art this year and to create his own, even if most of the pictures don’t feature any dogs’ behinds.
So as we gear up for our 5th home school year, many friends have sent their children off to a brick-and-mortar school of some kind this month–private, charter, public. Even though I don’t go through the same experience of dropping my children off at a new classroom with a new teacher each fall, I can comprehend the mixed feelings of enjoying a little more open-ended time during the day and yet feeling the bittersweet nature of watching my children grow up and become more independent.
I’m an introvert, so I understand the need for alone time, free time, down time–whatever we call it. I understand the hunger for a quiet house with the freedom to accomplish chores or read a book or get some other work done uninterrupted. But what I don’t understand is the frequent sentiment I hear or read that some parents express about their children getting back to school. Like this one…a mom commented on social media that she thought she might jump off a cliff from being with her children all summer and was SO excited for them to return to school.
Sure, we all exaggerate sometimes. I’m sure she didn’t mean her children drove her to suicidal ideation. I get it. Still, it saddens me, and I seem to read it almost anytime the day draws near for children to return to school–the end of the summer, the end of Christmas holidays: Parents taking to social media to blow off steam about how they can’t seem to stand one more day at home with their children.
I can empathize to a degree; I really can. There are times when I want my children not to ask the same questions over and over again, or to need things from me so much. Lunch, again? And yet…these boys of mine are a blessing from the Lord. They are a precious trust from God, and I get–GET–to be their mother. I know the parents who write on Facebook “just get these kids back in school already!” love their children as much as I do–and I’m sure they sometimes love their children better than I do.
But I do believe that how we talk about our children can affect how we see them. I know that it does for me, even if it’s just my never-spoken-aloud internal dialogue. And the lenses through which we view our children will affect not only how we treat them, but how we talk to them.
Years ago, I took this quote to heart:
The way we talk to our children becomes their inner voice. ~ Peggy O’Mara
I am willing to fail at almost anything except leaving my children with a voice in their heads that affirms their worth and value, that reassures them they are uniquely created and wonderfully made. Are parents who eagerly look forward to getting their children back in school–and loudly proclaim that on social media–desiring anything less than I do? Probably not. But I do appreciate what my friend Nancy wrote on Facebook about sending her children back to school this year: She wished for two more months of summer with them. I’m willing to bet her kids’ inner voices are something worth listening to.