This week, we officially started our 6th year of homeschooling in the Lee family household. I recently re-read these words that I’d written over a year ago, reflecting on some sweet home school moments–intending to gird up my loins, if you will, for a new season of teaching and leading and learning. I’ve discovered as a home school mama more than through any other life experience that my heart and mind need to receive constant reminders of truth. This memory from 2 school years ago provided a fresh injection, a renewal of vision for why I do what I do with my boys.
Home school, like any form of schooling and more or less anything in life in general, must stop for an emergency. Today’s emergency took place when one of our tadpoles had hopped out of the dish of water where we’ve been nurturing them with his newly-formed frog legs–built as his body consumed the fat stored in his tadpole tail. He looked so tiny, and he had seemed content to hop on the seashell we’d placed in the water. Every time I look at that container with algae and pollywogs and pond water placed on our kitchen table, I just think, “You might be a home school family if…”
My younger son and I had been observing the dish of water and its residents earlier in the day when he asked me where the newly-hopping little guy was. I couldn’t give a satisfactory answer for my boy, and he pressed me to promise that our tadpole-frog hadn’t leaped out. I think he worried that we’d lose this one–truly, that it would die–because years earlier, we’d raised tadpoles and one indeed had jumped from our bowl and couldn’t get back in, only we didn’t know. This wee one had been found later (a day? Two days?) dried to our tile floor. I didn’t fret this time, though; I figured the seashell provided enough land habitat for this current tadpole.
Then, while my older son wrote a story–that he volunteered to write in cursive!–and I helped with spelling (a character in a Truman Capote story is described as having spelling that is “highly personal and phonetic,” and I think that about my son sometimes), we spied a teeny animal on our floor. There was the young frog, hopping soundlessly on the white tile, between my feet and our table. I slid some paper under him and carried him to the pond behind our house, calling out to my boys to open doors for me so I could get him outside. We wished him well and then returned to our lessons. But I never minded that interruption, or the one involving checking on the butterfly that we’d rescued from the sidewalk in front of our house the afternoon before.
My boys had spotted the butterfly and pointed it out to me. We noticed that it still had life in it but that he could not fly–a bottom piece of one wing had been torn away somehow, and its body was no longer symmetrical. Younger boy had serious qualms about bringing it in the house; maybe he imagined it flying around and landing in his food or something. So I brought out a small glass vase of wildflowers we had picked a few days before, put it on our porch, and then delicately placed the disabled butterfly on a flower. He hung there for hours, moving from one bloom to the next. (He? She? I don’t know why I don’t want to call these animals “it.”)
After we delivered the baby frog back to the pond today, I thought of the butterfly. Once again, we paused the school lessons to peak in on the butterfly–still alive and still not flying. Only now, he was resting on our porch beside the flower vase. That interruption had clearly been my idea, but those are the moments I don’t want to miss. I firmly believe that learning is always taking place, so I don’t want us to miss what we can learn from and in the world around us.
That is part of why I love being involved in God’s creation, taking part in the life around us…rescuing a butterfly (even if the life remaining is short), releasing a frog to its homeland (or home water), listening to red-winged blackbirds fuss at us as we fish at a lake near the spot where they are building a nest. I feel very engaged in life around me when we do all this nature stuff, the life that exists and thrives and brings praise to the Creator. Birds and large-mouth bass and alligators doing what they were created to do–it not only glorifies the One who formed this earth and all that live in it; it shows us how intricately He is involved in the creation that He crafted and enjoys.
I know Woodrow and Garfield and I will continue to revel in the nature around us during this school year. Yesterday, we spotted a shed snake skin beneath a pile of branches in our yard. There’s always something new to discover in this world. Here’s hoping you enjoy your moments of discovery, too.