“This is sleep.”
I watch their eyes track my hand, crisscrossing X’s over boxes. 9 gone, 15 remain. Determination pulses through me, lest I miss the mark. I’ll toss out this moment and all its magnitude. Or, I’ll convince them. Lecture or life, both this experiment might hold. The tedium of motherhood nearly blinds me to these moments, but it’s where the magic happens. Right here, in five-minute dialogue.
“This is meals, showers, everything you need to do in a day.”
Two more boxes take on an X.
“To focus on what you need to learn, we spend around two
hours on school.” I trade my green pen for purple, claim two boxes for their
“This, then, is your free time, it looks pretty good,
right?” I watch the pupils of their eyes travel methodically across the page,
counting empty boxes. “Yes!” a resounding agreement.
Their impromptu time management lesson came on the heels of
my boy’s statement, after I announced we’d be taking a two-week break from school.
“Oh good. I don’t really like school anymore. It wastes my
My heart sank at his flippant words. All the effort my
husband and I have invested to educate them at home flashed through my mind.
All the insecurities I’ve worked to silence reared. Anger rose. There is a
considerable tension in my life between work and play. I err on work. They err
on play. We’re both wrong, both right.
“That’s an interesting statement,” I began, “but I think you’re looking at what’s right in front of you…” I placed my hands in front of my face, blocking peripheral, a forced nearsightedness. “You want to play, which is important, but you also need to think about a year from now,” I relaxed my arms to my sides, “five years, ten years, and what opportunities you want to have.”
That is when we pulled out paper and pens and traced the
visual of a day. “We each get twenty-four hours,” I started with, adding the last
row of four blocks, “that is God’s gift to us each day. The way we’ve chosen to
do school, you actually get more time for play and projects.” They nodded,
smiled, and ran off to make much of those free spaces.
Last week we hiked. The dirt path bled into as many of those blank boxes as it wanted. Twenty times we crossed the river uphill. Twenty times again on the way back. I watched their careful steps, precise decisions to keep balance and dry sneakers.
I hope they watch me and their Daddy do the same —
concentrated calculations, weighed risks, confident decisions knowing that
sometimes, yes, our feet will get wet. I pray it’s what they’ll see when they
look back, our consideration of each stone, each log, why we choose to cross
the way we do.
I hope they will see the reason behind our direction, and how sometimes methods change depending on the ways of the water, the clouds overhead. Sometimes we wait. Sometimes we press on. Sometimes we quicken our pace. The point is to always have an answer as to why. I pray our why will silence their doubts and reassure their hearts, and that our careful calculations will teach them their own. I pray one day, as they encounter their own river crossings, perhaps with little ones running ahead or grasping their hand over wobbly logs, they’ll be better equipped to navigate the path ahead — with steadfast values to steady their steps.
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