Monday, June 17, 2013

The Permanent Record (or, Stuff Parents Say)

When I was a kid I had a fear of being late, or absent from school, or of getting a bad grade in something because my mom used to say,

"That will go on your permanent record!"

This pronouncement generated visions in my head of people wearing reading glasses and important-looking suits, sitting behind a long table, making decisions about my life. They would look over my file, which is by that time quite fat, and every tardy, absent, or poor mark would be circled in red. One too many, they mutter to each other, shake their heads, move my file aside and move on to examine the boy who had the perfect attendance record every year. He gets the nod.

Who are those people? Why are they examining me? What are they preventing me from doing? As strange as it sounds, I don't think she was kidding. I think she believed in the "permanent record." She gave this warning more than once, and she was always telling me not to do things because "You don't want to get a reputation for... (insert whatever here)." So instead I had the reputation of being a goody-goody. Oh, don't get me wrong--I was a sinner along with the best of them. I just managed to keep it hidden while I was in school, while sins and issues were still kid-sized, but it all comes oozing out eventually, doesn't it?

I have had a recurring nightmare through my adult life in which I must go back to high school and take one English and one Math credit because if I don't, both my B.A. and my M.A. are null and void. I find myself back in the same honors English class taught by the same teacher, but usually the students are 17 year old kids, not my classmates I graduated with. Invariably I hear myself saying, "This is so stupid! I could teach this class myself, why do I have to go through this?" Once in the dream, when I was pregnant with my daughter, I finally got up, left the classroom, signed myself out of school and left, and decided it didn't matter anymore. I haven't had the dream in the same way since. It was tied to a twisted belief that there must be something buried in my past that I can maybe go back and fix and then "it will all be okay."

The strangest things can burden children for life. An often-repeated line or phrase, a belief that we hold, a prejudice. I think sometimes we fall into the trap of thinking that because we homeschool that we are insulating them from these things, or that by our extra effort in child-rearing that we will win the award for turning out healthy, unadulterated humans. Unfortunately, homeschooling is not a fix for these things. The permanent record is not a myth. Rather it is one that we create in our minds, and often with our parents' help--the lies and ungodly beliefs that we cling to. There is nothing in ourselves that can expunge the record, but God can. We can be completely new. We can  go to the cross and wipe out the permanent record that has haunted us.

As we teach our children, and more importantly pray for them, we must help them write a different record--one in which the Examiner holds out his hand and says, "well done." Frequent talks about heart motives, forgiveness, asking for their forgiveness when it is needed, praying together, walking together in the truth, not in wrongs and rights, comparisons, and concern for reputation, but in whole relationship, will soften the surface upon which the record is set. Let us help them to constantly revise the record with the truth.

A few nights ago, I had the dream again. I went back to the high school English class but this time there were only about 5 of my old classmates there and the same teacher. I was aware that most had moved on, and we wouldn't see them again. Once again, I had the sense that I was wasting my time. Once in the classroom I discovered someone had stolen my iPhone. I decided to look around the school and see if anything was different, and I found it to be completely changed, and it was all rather chaotic, all except for that one classroom which was stubbornly remained as it was in 1987. I decided to look for a place where I could get a cup of coffee, and I found a counter with a coffee maker on it. Behind it I heard my text alert and looked, and there was my phone on a charger. Indignant that someone would be so bold, I removed it from the charger and walked away. I started to go back to the classroom and then thought, "No...I've been doing this (school) on my own for years now (this definitely tied in to me homeschooling my kids). It just doesn't matter. I'm going home," and walked out the door.

I think I may finally be free of the permanent record. Let the one we are writing with our children be full of grace and truth, forgiveness and acceptance.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Father's Day

Happy Father's Day to the Best Man I Know. Glen, you have made being a wife and mother the happiest thing in the world. Our kids are blessed to have you as their dad.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Why I Need Vacation

This year was the third year in a row that we have vacationed in the Outer Banks of North Carolina. We have rented the same house each year with another family, and have included several other families, as well. Every vacation has been outstanding, but this year in particular it was practically perfect. I have been meaning to write this post since we came home, before I say anything more about homeschooling, curriculum, schedules or educational challenges.

When I was a kid we took two trips, both to visit uncles. Being severely limited in finances and somewhat restricted to what types of activities we could engage in due to my mother's rheumatoid arthritis, I just took it for granted that vacation was something that was a huge luxury that only rich people could experience. I still think that vacation is a huge luxury, but I have discovered that it is one that I can not only afford, but it is something that I need to make room in my time and budget for, because the benefits greatly outweigh the costs. Here is my apologetic for vacations.

Headspace: I need to get away to a place that is different from my house. I love my home. I love the look, feel, and smell of my house. I love my shower and my bed and my cats and my kids' stuffed animals and the garden, and my computer and Facebook page, my kitchen and my refrigerator. This house is where I live and work. I do not leave it for much of anything except to go to the box to exercise. Eventually, I need to stop working, stop cleaning, stop fixing things and just think about something else. I need perspective. I need to not be responsible for everything. I need to do nothing and have that be okay.

More Yeses, Fewer Nos: Mom, can I have ice cream? Yes. Mom, can I bury you in the sand? Yes, or at least my feet. Mom, will you come fly this kite with me? Yes. Dad, can we catch crabs? Yes. Mom, can I go potty in the ocean? Yes. (Please do, so I don't have to walk back to the house with you.) Mom, can I jump off of this high lifeguard chair? Yes. Mom, will you wear this mustache? Yes. Mom, can I stay up late? Yes. Mom, can we watch movies all afternoon? Yes. Mom, can we ride the go-carts? Yes. Mom, will you bring our lunch down to the beach? Yes. Mom, can I roll down this very steep hill? Yes. Dad, can we overload the back of the truck and ride without seat belts? Yes. Yes you can. You get the idea. On vacation, almost nothing is a no, or at least it shouldn't be. I think that kids need time to be as free as possible without the grown-up contingent hovering over them, making sure they have done their chores, cleaned up their dishes, finished their school work, followed the rules. They need this as much as we need the break from hovering! At the beach, if they really don't care about the sand in the bed they are sleeping in, then they don't have to take a bath. If they don't care, why should I? I need to see them laughing, playing, enjoying their friends, being carefree. I need to see my husband relaxing and spending time doing nothing, sleeping if he wants, having a drink if he wants, playing with the kids and making them laugh...being goofy. Everyday stresses tend to suck that kind of living out of a person, and vacation brings it back.

Life and Beauty: I need to spend time in a place that specializes in beauty and teems with non-human life. So does my family. We need to see different colors, smell different air, touch different creatures. We need to dig ourselves into the earth and pull out the shells, the crabs, the fish. We need to see the dolphins frolicking in the morning, visit the wild horses grazing on the dunes, and feed the seagulls stale chips. We need to see the stars without all the light pollution and feel the majesty of the massive sky over the vast ocean and remember that we are small. We need "different." It changes us, reminds us that we are more than just people--we are part of a far greater plan that reaches far beyond what our imaginations can grasp. This is healthy.

clam hunting

night crabbing

look, Mom!

Claws! Those pinch hard. Ask my husband if they draw blood!

Where is the girl with the stale chips?

Wild horses of Corolla

Time with friends: On these vacations we have spent incredible weeks with friends who are like-minded in so many ways. This past vacation we shared the common ground of a love for Christ, homeschooling, healthy eating, and a need and desire to relax completely. We played hard, shared the daily tasks of cooking and childcare so that everyone got a break from the daily grind, laughed a ton, and waited with eager anticipation to see who would be the lucky dork who fell backwards in the tricky chair that lives in that house. We were not disappointed. The kids got along so well, free of conflict and strife, and all were sad to leave each other at the end of the week. Vacation truly would not be the same without these special families with whom we have grown so much over the years.


Levi, "ahead" of everyone else.

Mustache madness!

getting smacked by waves

best friends...



Look out! Pirate on the beach!

Game time after breakfast

Mostly, I just need to see this:

Enjoying time with my Nikon

Enjoying the ride

Enjoying the waves



Nearly flying

Safe with Dad

My favorites

annual traditions
Do we have to leave?
Until next year...