From the Nest…
a blog about faith, parenting and creating sacred space
Six years ago, when my boys were in fifth and first grades, we were counting down the days till winter break. They had just started at a new school in the fall and we thought it was going to solve all our problems. But of course, that was not the case. They were still struggling, each with their own individual issues, but the struggle was real.
We had seriously started to consider homeschooling as an option. We were in Los Angeles and had friends who homeschooled their children. There were lots and lots of resources and classes and groups. BUT, we were both products of traditional schooling and had such a strong sense that ‘we need to power through the spring semester, then we can try something else’.
Luckily, our good friends looked us in the eye and said, “Why would you do that?” “How is that going to help your boys?, or your family?”
And just like that, we called the school and told them the boys would not be back after winter break. Their school was amazing and asked how they could support us, and invited the boys back to participate in various activities with their classes. We could not have asked for a better transition from the school.
The transition in my own mind and body is a totally different experience. It was a roller coaster of emotions. One day I felt empowered, like I could take on learning and my kids would excel! The next day I felt like a complete failure and worried they would never learn multiplication and division.
And I quickly realized, it was not just about our decision to homeschool. It was the pressure from others, the expectations of what school means and what kids ‘should’ be learning. It was my own confusion about whether this experiment we were doing with our children was really going to work. And there was a deep psychic pull between what I thought of as two opposing views:
–School looks like this and you have to learn to do these things.
–Everything they do is about learning and as long as they are curious, they will learn.
That was my daily struggle. Is this enough? Are they engaged? How do we measure? Do we need to measure? Does he need to learn the capitals of every state? Have I ever needed to know that information? And the fact that he does know the Latin names of 50 different ants is more than I will ever know about that insect! That seems like a fair trade off.
I’m writing this because in the midst of COVID19, many parents are awake at night worried that their child is falling behind. We are worried they will miss so much, there will not be time to catch up. We are worried our little ones will miss key developmental milestones and our older ones will miss opportunities for better college admission. We worry a whole generation of children will grow up unable to socialize with real people in real time and real places.
I’m here to tell you, all of that might be true and our worrying about it will not change it. So, my humble advice is this.
Find ways to calm yourself down when the anxiety starts to rise. Go for a walk, read a book, meditate, bake cookies, whatever you enjoy doing. And if your child does it with you, even better! They will be learning not only how to meditate or bake or get exercise, or sharing conversations about books you are reading—they will be learning how to calm themselves down when anxiety starts to rise in them
Listen to your child. Are they talking about a particular class or topic? Go a little deeper. Google it and find some things you can learn together. Are they hating a class? Help them strategize on how to get through. This is the year of -just get it done and turn it in. My youngest has been heard saying “Cs get degrees!” I’m not convinced that’s true and I don’t know where he heard it, but it makes us laugh. And when we are laughing, we are not anxious!
Children are beautiful and smart and resilient. They are okay and will be okay in the future. As parents, we can let go of some of the worry and try to enjoy the moments we have right now with our children. Moments we would not have gotten without this pandemic. Moments we will never have again.
It can feel like a roller coaster everyday, and we have to find ways to enjoy the ride!
**If you need help or can give help: Check in with your child’s school or district office if you need help with food, tutoring or technical support. And if you are able, please support our teachers and administers with your money, your time, your expertise. As we calm the anxiety, we can find ways to help all children.
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