Yesterday I dug through all the old homeschool notebooks in my basement. I paged through copywork, dictation, freewrites, lists, illustrations with written narrations, nature journals, reproductions of paintings, charcoal drawings of African violets, topics for poems (like, “How loud my dad snores”), pages filled with revision notes, math and science pages (I found evidence that we did, in fact, study the scientific method, no matter what my kids say), journal entries, an original script for Gilgamesh, a novella modeled after Emma, handwriting pages, lap books, posters…
It’s all there—our homeschool in paper form.
I even found my journal pages from the months when I began Brave Writer and was writing The Writer’s Jungle. I was fascinated to read my thoughts—worried that I might not have the right angle, wanting to be sure that what I wrote would be useful and a fresh take on writing/coaching, really engaged in examining what it feels like on the inside to be a writer.
In the middle of all these paging-throughs, I read the following in my journal:
“Better tub and scrub the little guys. They played endlessly in the creek the last two days and came home gloriously muddied. Just what a mother loves to see. Caitrin kept putting a muddy hand to her 24/7 headband and had to suffer separation anxiety last night while it sat out to dry after a thorough soaking. Back glued to her head today though.
“Liam is all boy about these things. I told him it was okay to get dirty. He took me fully at my word and brought home feet so thick with mud that I couldn’t see shoes underneath. Then he dribbled bits all over my house. Jacob made “Indian clay pots” that he left to dry… on my computer desk. I revel in this stuff, though. It’s far superior to TV and makes me feel that they are having a real childhood after all.” (February 25, 2000)
It heartened me to read that in the midst of everything else I was doing/thinking about (starting a business, writing a book, homeschooling every day), the highlight of one of those days was mud everywhere—head to toe, in my office, all over the house, up and down my kids’ bodies, wrecking shoes and clothes, requiring baths in the afternoon.
That’s parenting, that’s the whole reason we signed up to have children!
In our eagerness as parents to be dutiful, to foster learning, to make a difference in the world, to be “good parents” raising “good children,” I want to remind you: keep your eye on the ball.
Ball = kids.
Ball = happy.
Ball = mess.
Ball = wet.
Ball = serendipity.
Ball = living in this moment, today.
Ball = celebrating childishness.
Ball = gifts of mud pots on your computer desk.
Ball = smiling back at smiling children.
Ball = noticing, remembering, valuing, honoring.
Today: value your children as children.
- Choose not to take anything they say personally.
- Put your house last.
- Forget “training” or “obedience” or “discipline.”
- Cherish this chance to connect… and then connect, and connect again.
- Relish the person your child is today because today becomes tomorrow and that child changes and grows up.
- Be happy when your child is happy.
Then write “today” somewhere, and tuck it away… and like a time capsule, your preserved memory in words will come back to keep you company years from now, when you need it, when you’ve forgotten about today, when the house is all tidy and empty and silent and obedient and no longer muddy.
Cross-posted on facebook.