Thank Heaven for Little Boys

I homeschool my children. I use the term 'homeschool' loosely. After all, they are at home. And I do sit them down every few days for some formal schooling. But mostly, they're just at home. 

I believe in the value of boredom. Of having to fill long, empty chunks of time with whatever your mind can dream up. Often, when I'm asked what curriculum I use, or am pushed to explain my teaching style, I say, "You know those times when you get really into a project? You are scrapbooking or organizing a closet or editing a movie or something. You hit a groove, and stopping to eat or sleep seems a nuisance. That's what learning is like when you homeschool." 

It's easy to be confident about all this when my son is building train tracks that loop around the entire house; or my daughter sits down to write and illustrate a book all about the lives of her stuffed animals; or the two of them become obsessed with insects and butterflies, check out every book they can find on the subject, and go on 'caterpillar hunts' in the backyard in the hopes that they can watch it form a chrysalis. 

But I'm human. There are days when I worry that I'm not doing the right thing.

I was in the grips of self-doubt a few weeks ago as I went to have lunch with Little Miss C {at the cafeteria of the school she attends one day a week with other homeschooled children}. She was vibrant and social, laughing as she introduced her baby brother to her friends. She ate quickly, then ran off to hula hoop. 

E. had his eye on the basketball court, where a group of older boys were playing. They appeared to range in ages from 10 to 13, in that awkward pre-teen stage of large feet and loud voices. They ran back and forth on the pavement, yelling boisterously as they passed the ball back and forth. 

E finished his food, then made a beeline for the basketballs. He carefully chose one, then promptly dribbled it on his foot, sending it rolling across the court. He ran after it, picked it up, then walked with it to stand directly under the basket. With a burst of effort, he threw his basketball straight up, then ducked as it came right back down, far short of the basket and narrowly missing his head. 

At this point, he was starting to get in the way of the actual basketball game being played. Embarrassed, I was just about to step in and lead him off of the court when the tallest boy crouched down next to E. and asked him for his name. E told him. "Nice to meet you! Give me five!" the older boy replied. Then he stood and announced, "Hey everybody, this is E and he's going to play with us!" 

They spent the rest of the lunch period running at a crouch so they could be eye level with him. They passed him the ball. They ran after it when he failed to catch it. They lifted him up so he could 'dunk'. They listened and participated when he tried to change the rules to more closely resemble hockey. When the bell rang, they all said goodbye and gave him a high five as they filed back into the building. The tallest one saw me standing in the corner and asked, "Is he your child?" when I nodded, he said "He's awesome!" and gave me a high five as well. 

I couldn't help it. I looked at those gangly pre-teen boys with sweaty hair falling in their eyes and felt a surge of gratitude and love for them. Not only had they made E's day, but they had eased my mind concerning my choice to homeschool.

After all, if teaching them at home makes my children a bit different, it appears that they are in excellent company.


LisAway said...

I love your gratitude week.

This post got me teary eyed. I just have such a huge appreciation for kids of the age where nothing matters more than to look good in front of their peers who still make right and good choices. Sometimes even above the call of duty, like these kids playing basketball.

But I'm sure E's cuteness was a bit of a draw, too. :)

Janae said...

You have such a way with words (the value of boredom? So true!) What wonderful kids to include E. like that.

Krissy said...

I found your blog through C-Jane ... and I gotta say - this post is just beautiful. It's so nice to hear that there are still respectable parents and their children in the world. It's all to sad to know they're hard to come by in these days.

I totally love your blog! I'll be adding you to my google reader to follow along. :)

Krissy said...

Ugh .. it's late and that was supposed to be 'all TOO sad' .. lol my bad. lol

molly said...

what an awesome post. your kids really sound wonderful. and congratulations to your for "homeschooling" in whatever manner you chose to use it. i would love to do that someday when we have kids. i think it's a really warm, loving experience that can't be had anywhere else.

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