I remember a time in early motherhood where I was voluntold to work in a children’s class.
Voluntold because there was a need and some of that need was a direct result of having children of my own. I served in that setting because it was necessary, not necessarily because I wanted to.
Don’t get me wrong, I love children. I even enjoy teaching children. But there is something entirely different about teaching your own children academically if you lack the “teaching gene”. Particularly if you have a child that can be a bit more challenging.
My only prerequisite at that time was that I teach children who were not my own and to have the tools necessary to prepare and facilitate well. Those requests were not met. Yet I still upheld my end of the bargain (probably due to the people-pleaser in me).
The reality of this pandemic on parents is a little bit like that challenging season of classroom shenanigans.
I teach my children like they are mine. I’ve jokingly told my sister that my job is to teach my children, to discipline and love them well, and to prayerfully send them out into the world as equipped as possible – all the while hoping that one day they will be contributing members of the societies in which they live. But my job with my nephews and nieces is to spoil them, dote upon them, and send them back full of sugar to their parental units.
I teach my children like they are mine because they are.
Their academic successes aren’t as important to me as their respect for you in your class. Their success at the extra-curricular activity isn’t as important to me as their kindness toward the awkward kid at school that no one seems to want to eat lunch with. My teaching isn’t from the books, it’s from the heart.
I know that teachers also teach from the heart but they also have specific goals and benchmarks to meet. Their learning environment is structured and controlled; their training and experience are one of the keys to my academic success. These wonderful women and men are used to handling the complex emotions and frustrations of their students. Have I mentioned that they are amazing?
My aim with these students (ahem…my children) is to parent them well. While that includes teaching, it is not the same as being their teacher. And it is hard and different and frustrating for all parties involved.
When we moved to San Antonio, we really struggled to find a church home. After visiting about thirty churches, we started doing church at home because that was a better fit for our family. Now that we are homeschooling (ahem…crisis schooling), home church is just another area that their mom and dad are teaching them.
I love to invest in our children- spiritually, emotionally, physically. But these poor kids…Mom and Dad are currently:
Video Gaming partner
Work Out Buddy
The list could go on and on. We are homebound to this space with limited exit strategies; exit strategies they are likely in desperate need of in light of their present realities.
Today the kids had a nice little meltdown, and who could blame them really? We are all allowed our moments. They are frustrated, bored, and longing for normal. But no one really knows if and when this will end and normal will return. It is a loss – a loss of the life they knew, of their schools and friends, and of learning from anyone but mom and dad.
Military kids face so much loss. To some degree, they are used to this but to another degree, they are more isolated than ever before.
In our own personal experience with this pandemic and the loss of all the above, I have picked up a few things on homeschooling my children. But my best takeaways are not academic:
- This isn’t normal. None of this is normal. Your kids are experiencing this thing every bit as much as you are, maybe more. Hopefully with age has come some wisdom, and that wisdom can help in leading the ones you love. But these little ones? They were just learning the basics of how to handle emotions pre-pandemic. How much more now? With these social-distancing moments, come meltdowns. Heck, I’ve had a few. And it’s OK. Dare I say, it’s even normal. Allow them the gift of emotions, even the hard ones.
- Let the failed moments of today pass and determine to take a stab at some hope-filled moments tomorrow. Sometimes you need to simply let things go and try again tomorrow.
- Give yourselves some grace. We don’t know what we are doing here. Like the aforementioned classroom experience, we are grasping at control and resources to get us through this thing with some sense of purpose and planning. But we simply cannot control or plan our way out of this.
- Do it differently. Most of us have a natural bent as to how we operate. I most assuredly will over-expect, over-communicate, over-indulge, over-emotionalize, etc. Change your pattern. I think it was Albert Einstein that said “doing the same thing but expecting a different result is the definition of insanity”. Stop the insanity! Try something new!
- Don’t go into a pandemic with a specific expectation. I hate to use the word unprecedented because it’s overused in this season but truly, it is unprecedented. While people have faced these kinds of hardships before, it doesn’t mean we personally have had these experiences.
- Grieve the loss. Whatever that loss may be. Perhaps the loss is your high school graduation, a special trip, the loss of a job, the loss of a business, or the loss of a friend. I lost a childhood friend to suicide during this pandemic (which I am certain played a role in his decision to end his life). We are allowed to grieve that which we have lost. It is in fact, quite normal and appropriate to do so.
- I cannot emphasize this enough…try again tomorrow. Today wasn’t a good day? There is another tomorrow- with new hopes, new mercies, new opportunities. Tomorrow, give it another try. Each day has enough trouble of its own (Matthew 6:34). Don’t make today more worrisome than it needs to be.
How are you all getting through this time? Any tips for your children/homeschooling? Share with us below!