Category Archives: I’m Catholic Why?

Say Yes

For Catholics, today is the Solemnity of the Nativity of Mary — Mary’s birthday. I like Mary for many reasons, some maybe too personal to share. (Don’t worry, this won’t be too pious.)

But what I told my kids today is that what made Mary the first saint is saying yes. As told in the Gospel of Luke, God sent an angel to tell Mary what was going to happen, and Mary did not say “Holy Shit!” or “Dear God no!” Effectively, she said yes.

There is a knotty theological question about whether she could have said no–did she really have a choice? But in practical terms, where you and I live, of course she could have said no, whether she had a choice or not. When the alarm clock rings too early I always say “Nooooo!” whether I get up or not. Sad to say, I meet a lot of the events of my day with a “Oh God No!” even if I go ahead and do them.

But I love the idea of saying yes.

Last week at the fair I got a brat with sauerkraut. It was nighttime, and the kids working the fair were getting punchy. “Want to do a sauerkraut juice shot with me and my friend?” the brat girl asked me. “Um, why not?” I replied–good enough for yes–and we toasted 3 little plastic cups of cloudy brine and gulped them down before I rejoined my family.

This summer I was out walking around our neighborhood with a sore foot in a light rain, when suddenly a person in a drag show (male? female?) reached a hand out to me from a stage door of the bar we were passing and said, “Want to take a spin?” I am fat, 40, and frumpy, with a purse that looks like a diaper bag. I was thinking, “oh dear me, no,” but I said yes and danced to “Groove is in the Heart” –luckily in front of blinding stage lights — and took a bow at the end before dashing back out into the rain to laugh the rest of the way home.

When I remember to say yes, I often think Stephen Colbert, yet another of my-kind-of Catholics, and his commencement address of 2006 at Knox College. So to celebrate Mary’s birthday, I watched it with my kids. I hope they learned a little something about saying yes.

Key text as follows:

You seem nice enough, so I’ll try to give you some advice. First of all, when you go to apply for your first job, don’t wear these robes. Medieval garb does not instill confidence in future employers—unless you’re applying to be a scrivener. And if someone does offer you a job, say yes. You can always quit later. Then at least you’ll be one of the unemployed as opposed to one of the never-employed. Nothing looks worse on a resume than nothing.

So, say “yes.” In fact, say “yes” as often as you can. When I was starting out in Chicago, doing improvisational theatre with Second City and other places, there was really only one rule I was taught about improv. That was, “yes-and.” In this case, “yes-and” is a verb. To “yes-and.” I yes-and, you yes-and, he, she or it yes-ands. And yes-anding means that when you go onstage to improvise a scene with no script, you have no idea what’s going to happen, maybe with someone you’ve never met before. To build a scene, you have to accept. To build anything onstage, you have to accept what the other improviser initiates on stage. They say you’re doctors—you’re doctors. And then, you add to that: We’re doctors and we’re trapped in an ice cave. That’s the “-and.” And then hopefully they “yes-and” you back. You have to keep your eyes open when you do this. You have to be aware of what the other performer is offering you, so that you can agree and add to it. And through these agreements, you can improvise a scene or a one-act play. And because, by following each other’s lead, neither of you are really in control. It’s more of a mutual discovery than a solo adventure. What happens in a scene is often as much a surprise to you as it is to the audience.

Well, you are about to start the greatest improvisation of all. With no script. No idea what’s going to happen, often with people and places you have never seen before. And you are not in control. So say “yes.” And if you’re lucky, you’ll find people who will say “yes” back.

Now will saying “yes” get you in trouble at times? Will saying “yes” lead you to doing some foolish things? Yes it will. But don’t be afraid to be a fool. Remember, you cannot be both young and wise. Young people who pretend to be wise to the ways of the world are mostly just cynics. Cynicism masquerades as wisdom, but it is the farthest thing from it. Because cynics don’t learn anything. Because cynicism is a self-imposed blindness, a rejection of the world because we are afraid it will hurt us or disappoint us. Cynics always say no. But saying “yes” begins things. Saying “yes” is how things grow. Saying “yes” leads to knowledge. “Yes” is for young people. So for as long as you have the strength to, say “yes.”


Filed under I'm Catholic Why?

Weekend Snapshots, and A Poem for Sunday

We’re having a hot and lovely weekend, mostly — there is some eggshell-treading, after a volatile week. While Victoria spent the afternoon with an old friend, Violet, Eggmaster, and I went for a bike ride. We aren’t far from an on-ramp to the bicycles-only Midtown Greenway, which rolls along next to the railroad tracks, and between two of the lakes, and then onto a little shopping area, where we could stop at Whole Foods and pick up some goodies to bring to old friends’ house for dinner. Violet was ecstatic at the idea of cycling not just to tool around, but to run errands, putting our shopping bag in a milkcrate attached to my bike with bungee cords. My legs are feeling it today, but maybe by the next snowfall I’ll be stronger.

Many pangs of not quite sadness, but nostalgia and something more, as we pulled up in front of our old house to have dinner with our old neighbors. As we parked I felt I could just walk in the front door and be home. When our friends didn’t have enough of something, for a second I thought, “I’ll just run across the street and grab it.” I have not quite fully moved into the new house yet, almost 8 months later—my stuff is there, but not all of me. I like it, but it’s still my vacation home.

Today we went to the big city farmers’ market, instead of the tiny neighborhood one we went to last week. It was hot, and the kids were tired, but we managed some little pleasures. The girls had maple candy “just like Laura Ingalls” (those 4 words are enough to recommend anything to Victoria), and then we saw lovely leeks at reasonable (not supermarket) cost. I nearly passed them by, until Violet promised to make us leek pancakes, as she learned at a short Concordia Chinese overnight a few weeks ago. Tonight, however, Victoria and I have a special menu from her new gardening cook books. We’ve made mint syrup and started the “Strawberry Dream Cream” already — new potatoes, peas, and spinach-egg casserole to follow later tonight.

I allowed myself a treat too, a wonderful variegated leafy plant. I have no idea what it is, and Eggmaster had to ask the seller how much sun it needs. I’ve also made arrangements that he’ll water it. I am a black thumb — I cannot touch this plant, but I can still enjoy it.

I am reading lots and lots — Terry Pratchett’s Lords and Ladies, Jack Kornfield’s A Path With Heart, Kathleen Norris’s Acedia and Me. I just love her — who knows what she is like in real life, but when I read her I think, “Ah, we’re just alike. She understands me perfectly. We’re walking a common path, and she is just enough ahead of me to shed a little light.”

She’s also a great finder of quotations. Here’s a nice one for the seekers among us:

Most people come to the Church by means the Church does not allow, else there would be no need their getting to her at all . . . The operation of the Church is entirely set up for the sinner, which creates much misunderstanding among the smug. — Flannery O’Connor

This is a poem from Lynn Park quoted in A Path with Heart. I can find no links to it, or the poet, anywhere, so here is the whole lovely thing:

Take the time to pray—
it is the sweet oil that eases the hinge into the garden
so the doorway can swing open easily.
You can always go there.

Consider yourself blessed.
These stones that break your bones
will build the altar of your love.

Your home is the garden.
Carry its odor, hidden in you, into the city.
Suddenly your enemies will buy seed packets
and fall to their knees to plant flowers
in the dirt by the road.
They’ll call you Friend
and honor your passing among them.
When asked, “Who was that?” they will say,
“Oh, that one has been beloved by us
since before time began.”
This from people who would have trampled over you
to maintain their advantage.

Give everything away except your garden,
Your worry, your fear, your small-mindedness.
Your garden can never be taken from you.

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Filed under Cooking and Eating, Family Fun, I'm Catholic Why?, Our Domestic Church, Remedial Domesticity

Thank you!

I am very belatedly thanking Sarah, who gave me the Beautiful Blogger award that is going around.

It’s always nice to know someone out there likes to read you! Sarah is another homeschooler of gifted children who weren’t exactly thriving in a traditional school setting — she blogs at Quarks and Quirks, and I’ll be stealing science tips from her going forward.

So this is how it works:

Award requirements:

1. Thank person who gave you the award. (check)

2. Pass it on to 15 favorite bloggers you’ve just recently discovered. I’ve picked three favorites instead — which seems to be the trend. Fifteen bloggers?! — I don’t know if I can keep up with fifteen old blogs, let alone find 15 new ones.

3. Let them know they got the award. As appropriate

4. Share 7 things about yourself. Well, I’ll never pass up that opportunity.

Three Fairly New-To-Me Blogs

1. Fieldwork, subtitled “Science in its natural state.” This is a project launched by Theresa of the venerable blog LaPaz Home Learning. And if you don’t know that one already, you should, if only for the photos!

2. Roger Ebert’s Journal. Sorry to jump on the Ebert bandwagon if you’ve been hearing too much about him lately — but it’s all true. I swear, I started following him well before the Esquire and Oprah business started. You can believe the hype. There is some really good writing — and really interesting community formation — going on over there. Or you could just follow his twitter feed.

3. This one is a super cheat, because Sarah also gave her the award, but I’m trying to do anyone reading this a service. Through Sarah I found the blog Library of Books, Links, and More, which is pretty much what is sounds like and is especially helpful to parents of PGers, PGlets, or whatever you like to call them. Do check it out!

Seven Things About Me

1. I harbor a secret ambition of writing a screenplay about the life of Voltaire.

2. I never planned to be Catholic, or an at-home parent, or a homeschooler, and yet I still entertain the delusion that my planning is essential to how my life will go.

3. Ditto the whole gifted thing — never would have gotten IQ testing for DD10 if we hadn’t basically been forced, did our school searching with the express purpose of not sending our child to the local gifted magnet, intentionally avoided “working with her” (you know, “oh, you must work with her a lot at home.”) Plans, shmans.

4. Love Love Love the Twin Cities and Minnesota. I didn’t grow up here, but as soon as I came here it was so obviously Home.

5. If I won the lottery I would probably spend all my time cooking and learning every foreign language I could make time for. Oh, and playing the piano and learning guitar too.

6. I always thought I liked traveling until I met people who really liked traveling. I just like setting up house in different places, and then returning to Minnesota.

7. My mother told me that the 40s are the best decade because you really don’t care what other people think of you. I gotta say, six months into my 40s — she was right.


Filed under Gifted Ed, I'm Catholic Why?, Oh Mother

Ten Years On

I didn’t realize until I heard it on the news — at new year’s we enter a new decade (well, unless you are one of those people who gets off on saying “no, it’s really 2011” or something).

So what about a recap of the 00s? Apart from the obvious addition of parenting to the daily agenda, there are some dramatic changes in my life since I tried to party like it was 1999 — which was not a lot, as I had an 8-month-old baby. What are the big deals of the last 10 years?

— On the downside, depression. I crawled into the year 2000 barely functioning, and by April I was afraid to be alone with myself. Depression has been a constant passenger on my bus since I was a teenager — sometimes noisy, sometimes asleep, but never totally forgotten. But those mothering hormones really kicked it up a notch, and I have spent much of the last 10 years learning about how to get well, stay well, and deal with the fact that I won’t always be well.

I’ve had at least two extremely severe periods of depression since 1999, and several smaller ones, and wow, they changed me and the way I look at just about everything.

— On the upside, conversion. In 1999, pregnant with Violet, I started going to various churches, beginning my on-again off-again courtship with Christianity. Early in the 00s, something stuck. I wish I could tell a great story about how Jesus gave me victory over depression, but that would be total crap. “Victory” — meh. Yet here I am, a reluctant-yet-happy convert, in that Mary Karr/Kathleen Norris vein. And now that we’ve moved and I’ve left the parish that I was baptized in, April 2002, I feel like a high school graduate leaving home. No one knows me as a catechumen, as a neophyte with leave to ask more questions and get a little more direction. I’m just another fellow Catholic, expected to jump in like the rest of the grown-ups.

I’m still adjusting.

— This has also been a decade of lowering expectations, which is better than it sounds. It often seems to me that the story of adulthood is finding out that no one else knows what’s going on either. The further up the ladder you go, the more you realize that most everyone else is just faking it the best they can, same as you. This can be disconcerting at times, like when dealing with doctors and psychiatrists, but it can be wonderful too, like when dealing with employers and teachers.

I am a slow learner. I am still brought up short when I discover, “Hey, the person in charge doesn’t really understand the situation any better than I do.” I still expect to find a reassuring expert or professional in charge, saying “don’t worry Shaun, we’ve got this all under control.” What’s changed is the rapid recognition and acceptance I experience when I once again discover I’m wrong. And that instead of saying “Holy crap, that person is a moron!” I remember that s/he is doing the best s/he can.

Not bad for 10 years. Depression + conversion + lowered expectations + 10 years of aging and life experience = humility, compassion, and responsibility.

And now what? I am inspired by reading Sarah’s thoughts on a theme for the new year.

I’ve already started my manifesto for new life: less work, more joy. Less drudgery, more faithfulness. This needs more than a year, at least where I’m starting from. You’ll have to check in with me in 2020 to see how that turned out.

Happy New Year to you!


Filed under I'm Catholic Why?, Oh Mother

Goodbye to Hard Work

I’m suffering a bit of too-many-thoughts paralysis lately — I want to write about everything, and so write about nothing!

But I’m a little excited about this one.

A Facebook friend linked to an article that many friends in the gifted community were annoyed with.

The title of the article pits giftedness against hard work, as if you only get one or the other. Those of us who have already endured 12 years of school hearing that nothing we do counts because “it’s so easy for you” find that tired argument difficult to sit through again.

An old grad school friend — now also a coworker with my husband — made me laugh when he commented on the article by observing that he has spent most of his life avoiding hard work, and it’s going pretty well so far.

(Of course this is not exactly true — this friend has succeeded at several different things since grad school.)

I realized, I may be in danger of passing on to my kids this obsession with “hard work” and being a “hard worker.” I follow the New Parenting Rules and praise them for effort and process rather than quality of product. My daughter wants me to read her NaNoWriMo novel and I say, “Wow, I am so proud of how much time you have put into this.” Is that what you’d want someone to say when they read your first draft of a novel?!

So phooey on that. I’m not going to teach my children to value their efforts by drops of sweat or sleepless nights.

I’m making some substitutions in my vocabulary, at least for myself:

“Hard Work” is now “Passion” or maybe even “Joy”

“Effort” is now “Faithfulness”

“Persistence” is now “Love”

This is where, I think, we’ve been going on our homeschool journey, though we didn’t know it when we embarked. The blessing of falling into homeschool for us is not that the girls “work to their potential” or get “challenged,” though sometimes those things happen. The blessing is that we are all learning and actively looking to give ourselves wholeheartedly to what we are doing.

This allows us to sidestep worries about the dire fates that apparently await many “prodigies,” and the “harsh truths” about the perils of giftedness. Much of the mainstream chatter about gifted kids — apart from the utterly contradictory advice — seems to focus on whether kids are working too hard (“pushy parents,” “unrealistic expectations”) or not hard enough (“underachievers,” “everything comes easy,” “don’t earn their successes”).

We’re exiting that conversation now.

How hard are my kids working? How hard am I working? Who cares?

Are we living and working with joy and passion? Do we love what we’re doing enough to carry on through the inevitable doldrums and frustrations?

I hope so. Whether it’s a massive Thanksgiving meal or a child-size NaNoWriMo goal, I hope that we are giving our whole selves out of joy — the joy of serving, performing, creating, feeling. If we are not — if we are only jumping through hoops, acting out of a sense of obligation, checking off the to-do list, or trying to impress — I hope we will learn to recognize that and correct it as best we can.


Filed under Gifted Ed, Gifted Heart and Soul, I'm Catholic Why?, Our Domestic Church, Our Philosophy (such as it is)

The Great 2009 Church Search

We went to church for the first time in weeks, our first stop on the search for a new church.

You would think we would just go to the nearest Catholic church, but then you wouldn’t know the Twin Cities very well. Today we went to a church that is about 3 miles away from our home, which means we opted not to attend two or three Catholic churches that are closer. In our old parish neighborhood there were maybe 6 large parishes in a 3-mile radius. If you listen to Prairie Home Companion, as I do (and did today), you might think that all Minnesotans are Lutherans, but there are also a *lot* of Catholics. And back when there were immigrants from Europe of many different nationalities arriving here, each group built their own Catholic church.

In short, you don’t have to be a persnickity “church shopper” to find yourself choosing a church.

Today’s church’s patron saint was a skeptic, which makes it a nice choice. It’s also in a lovely area right behind a co-op to which we still have a membership from our pre-kid days, near a Waldorf-y toy store, coffee shops, a bread bakery (as opposed to a sweets bakery), and other nice things.

Also on the plus side, I saw a lot of kids. I have learned and changed my views on things like Sunday school, and now think kids should be celebrating Mass with parents, and I’m glad this parish also takes that view. I particularly noticed a lot of middle school kids, which we are always happy to see. Sometimes it seems that by the time kids reach middle school families have moved to the suburbs, and city neighborhoods are full of babies.

The homily was fine — nothing too challenging or profound, but nothing insulting either, which is a good start. The pastor told a Buddhist story relating to the homily’s theme of service, so I took that as a sign of relative open-mindedness.

On the downside: first, the church has been remodeled, and not all that well. The outside is lovely, but the inside feels kind of like an airplane hangar. All hard, cold, new surfaces, no color. The arrangement of the ambo (pulpit) and altar is odd — it took a long time for me to figure out how the church was oriented. It doesn’t add much to the experience of the liturgy, and of course I am spoiled by having attended an absolutely gorgeous church with a deep sense of (regional and salvation) history etched into every post, buttress, and tiny chapel.

Another downside: the church is affiliated with a school. My experience and that many friends is that if your children do not attend the parish school, it is nearly impossible to get involved in parish life. I say this as one who was co-chair of our parish council, and I am backed up by two other women who were co-chairs of our parish council — that is, it was not for lack of effort on our part that we found it hard to get connected.

The music: well, let’s just say that church music generally requires lowering the bar a bit, unless maybe you are a Presbyterian or Methodist with a paid choir (as many are around here). Still, while I’m no traditionalist, my old parish did give me a taste for a little more variety, and not *all* modern hymns.

So, we’ll go back next week and check out their Donut Sunday. Then I think we’ll try a couple of other churches. And maybe we’ll pop into our old church now and again. I would love to be settled into our house and a church before Christmas, but something tells me we will still be pilgrims on December 25th.


Filed under I'm Catholic Why?

Many Thanks

Just a short note of thanks to the people who have commiserated and encouraged with regard to the move. It really helps!

I am on such a roller coaster — I am sure I am wearing my family out! At times I am despondent about the chaos, about the deadlines slipping away, about how dreadfully disorganized and messy we are even when we aren’t moving, about what a bad friend I am being as I am so caught up in my own busyness. And then at other times I am galloping on about how great everyone is, and how great the world is, and how blessed we are and how friends keep turning up just when I need them most.

This can all happen in the space of an hour, several times a day.

It’s a crash course in gratefulness and trust. I am missing church nearly every Sunday as time runs out for meeting some essential deadline and I have to choose between my health/sanity and yet another outing, but this is like Eucharist to the homebound. The bread and wine friends shared with us tonight was yet another unexpected touch of the Real Presence.

I will need to have lots and lots of payback dinners once our dining room and kitchen are mostly box-free.


Filed under I'm Catholic Why?, Our Domestic Church

Happy Easter

Easter Homily

by St. John Chrysostom

Are there any who are devout lovers of God?
Let them enjoy this beautiful bright festival!

Are there any who are grateful servants?
Let them rejoice and enter into the joy of their Lord!

Are there any weary from fasting?
Let them now receive their due!

If any have toiled from the first hour,
let them receive their reward.

If any have come after the third hour,
let them with gratitude join in the feast!

Those who arrived after the sixth hour,
let them not doubt; for they shall not be short-changed.

Those who have tarried until the ninth hour,
let them not hesitate; but let them come too.

And those who arrived only at the eleventh hour,
let them not be afraid by reason of their delay.

For the Lord is gracious and receives the last even as the first.
The Lord gives rest to those who come at the eleventh hour,
even as to those who toiled from the beginning.

To one and all the Lord gives generously.
The Lord accepts the offering of every work.
The Lord honours every deed and commends their intention.

Let us all enter into the joy of the Lord!

First and last alike, receive your reward.
Rich and poor, rejoice together!

Conscientious and lazy, celebrate the day!
You who have kept the fast, and you who have not,
rejoice, this day, for the table is bountifully spread!

Feast royally, for the calf is fatted.
Let no one go away hungry.
Partake, all, of the banquet of faith.
Enjoy the bounty of the Lord’s goodness!

Let no one grieve being poor,
for the universal reign has been revealed.

Let no one lament persistent failings,
for forgiveness has risen from the grave.

Let no one fear death,
for the death of our Saviour has set us free.
The Lord has destroyed death by enduring it.
The Lord vanquished hell when he descended into it.
The Lord put hell in turmoil even as it tasted of his flesh.

Isaiah foretold this when he said,
“You, O Hell, were placed in turmoil when he encountering you below.”
Hell was in turmoil having been eclipsed.
Hell was in turmoil having been mocked.
Hell was in turmoil having been destroyed.
Hell was in turmoil having been abolished.
Hell was in turmoil having been made captive.

Hell grasped a corpse, and met God.
Hell seized earth, and encountered heaven.
Hell took what it saw, and was overcome by what it could not see.

O death, where is your sting?
O hell, where is your victory?

Christ is risen, and you are cast down!
Christ is risen, and the demons are fallen!
Christ is risen, and the angels rejoice!
Christ is risen, and life is set free!
Christ is risen, and the tomb is emptied of its dead.

For Christ, having risen from the dead,
is become the first-fruits of those who have fallen asleep.

To Christ be glory and power forever and ever. Amen!

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Filed under I'm Catholic Why?

Attitude Adjustment

Back in the day, when I was going to grad school in Ann Arbor, if one of my housemates announced that he was going to the porch for an “attitude adjustment” it meant one thing — time to pass a joint around. (I can say this in front of my parents now that 40 is in my sites, plus I have to support poor Michael Phelps.)

The phrase came to mind as I reflected on this day. Standing in the shower minutes before I was supposed to leave for Mass, I was feeling so put upon. Perhaps you know these feelings: “I’m the only one who ever does anything around here, I’m late because I have to help everyone else, blah blah blah.” (I say “blah blah blah” because that’s about the level of originality my thinking achieved.)

Knowing that I was going to be quite late, thinking of abandoning Mass altogether, I forced myself to go, because I knew there was an excellent chance that I would come away feeling much differently. And yes I did. In fact, it was one of those Masses where you feel like the readings and the homily are speaking just to you. (Which is a good thing to remember when they aren’t speaking to you — someone else may be getting a turn.) During the homily I couldn’t stop grinning, and I had to work not to laugh out loud.

My goodness, I’m laughing again, seeing the first reading, which I missed in my lateness. It is, of all people, Job, saying,

Is not man’s life on earth a drudgery?
Are not his days those of hirelings?
He is a slave who longs for the shade,
a hireling who waits for his wages.

Such were my own thoughts this morning, before Mass. Yet as my pastor continued speaking about not just giving and serving, but pouring out ourselves, my whole mood lightened. I didn’t feel guilty about my feelings of martyrdom, they just blew away completely. It didn’t hurt that my girls were not only extremely well behaved during Mass, but cuddly and affectionate as well, so that every time the pastor said the word “love” a little girl was squeezing my hand or putting herself under my arm. Though the sentiments were not new to me, they somehow overcame their mundane familiarity enough to make me see, and hear, and enjoy it so much I wanted to laugh.

I had a major attitude adjustment, and it has lasted through a long Target trip, an afternoon of working, cleaning the neighbors’ cat litter, and making Valentine’s treats in a messy kitchen with messy girls. And if I have the munchies I can only blame it on the chocolate-mint-dipped Oreos with sprinkles.


Filed under I'm Catholic Why?, Oh Mother

The Courage of My Contradictions

I am really a schizophrenic homeschooler.

I am just too many conflicting personalities rolled into one person, which means one part of me is always doubting the other.

Part of me is a free spirit. A special kind of free spirit, I admit. No one would mistake me for a flower child or bohemian; I guess I wear my patchouli on the inside. But a big part of me puts very little value on security and familiarity. This has long been a quote that resonates with me:

One does not discover new lands without consenting to lose sight of the shore for a very long time — Andre Gide

I found this while I was writing my dissertation, and it helped me stay curious and open to new conclusions rather than doing my research and interpretation with a particular end in mind. I think of this quotation often and bring it to bear on many parts of my life. The sentiment behind it has long been a guiding principle for me. It’s the reason I’ve been an independent contractor all these years, a factor in our decision to start homeschooling, a step in my eventual conversion.

On the other hand, part of me — in fact, closely related to that Christopher Columbus explorer part of me — is a very take-charge, git ‘er done, “if you want something done right you’ve got to do it yourself” kind of person. This personality works well for homeschooling in a way — I very rarely feel cowed by experts (though I can’t say I never do). If anything intimidates me, it’s knowing that *no one* really knows what to do about a lot of things.

The downside of this personality type for homeschooling is that I am frequently tempted to get in there and learn for my kids, or get them to wrestle their learning to the ground in a way that seems sufficiently aggressive.

I felt this pull today, strongly, as I listened to the girls play, frankly playing in a way that really annoyed me and seemed immature for Violet — though there was really nothing wrong with it. This follows a week of doodling in the history books, doing short, cursory piano practices, and general dawdling.

So while I often say that I love homeschooling because it lets my bright children be both advanced and age appropriate, I find that I’m not always feeling it. Violet in particular likes to play and be crazy — anything for a laugh. The other day at co-op I had to tell her to take a garbage can off her head! Even I struggle to reconcile that part of her with her super-brainy side — and I’m married to her anything-for-a-laugh, loves-to-cross-the-line, cares-not-for-social-mores, super-brainy father. (You might suspect, moreover, that if I would marry that kind of man and have that kind of child, I might not be a paragon of normalcy myself.)

Apparently when it comes to my children, I would rather not lose sight of the shore. I don’t want to discover new lands. Like millions of parents before me, I want my kids to grow up and be strong and happy, and I am not willing to take a lot of risks with that.

Today I had to backtrack with Violet and tell her that I am glad that she’s a kid, and that I like homeschooling because I want her to be a kid for as long as she *is* a kid. And I mean that . . . mostly. I also told her that I think she is a great kid, and I mean that too. Both my kids are great, but they have big personalities and big ideas that put my history as a free-spirited risk-taker on the line.

I was reminded of a homily from a few weeks back, about how one of the best ways we can comply with God’s will is just to get out of the way — the presider was speaking about the dogmatic church and the overzealous believer, but no doubt that applies very well to parents too. I think I’m getting the message that it’s time to pull up anchor and loose the sails.


Filed under Gifted Ed, Gifted Heart and Soul, I'm Catholic Why?, Oh Mother, Our Philosophy (such as it is), Socialization, Why Homeschool?