And so it begins

I can't believe my last post was back in June. It's now September. You'd think we were busy or something!!!

Home-schooling ended with more than a fizzle than a bang. Ethan finished everything he was supposed to get done to stay caught up with his class even a few days early. But that does not imply it was without tears or gnashing of teeth, or more often, simply just-below-the-surface irritation and an eye-roll suppressed only by the most extreme will-power.

I am not meant to be his teacher.

The rest of the summer passed in a haze of a great vacation, meetings, ministry, moving, and doctor's appointments. The kids had a blast. I rejoiced every morning the alarm didn't go off, and then rapidly reverted to cursing the craziness of four children and three dogs underfoot in our new, single story house. I was so used to saying, "Go upstairs!" in moments of exasperation, that once we had no upstairs I felt paralyzed. Until I realized the whole point of the new house was the large yard, in equatorial Africa where winter is played out in 78 degree days. "Go outside!" saved the day, and I figure the children are better off for it.

Anya, grade 8
School here starts early, so by August 1 the dreaded (by them) countdown was on. Almost to the day the calendar flipped over, Ethan began having trouble sleeping again, started getting into things he shouldn't, started being more sensitive. Isaac started getting mad at 'stupid school' for 'wasting all his time'. And Omara began incessantly crying and whining, and at the same time adorably asking, "If I eat all my dinner, will I grow big enough to go to school too?" Only Anya was unaffected. Or I should say, pleasantly affected. She got out the hair-dryer, practiced with new styles, and upped the teeny-head toss to perfection.

All that counseling we've done prepared me to interpret rather than react.  "Find the reason. Find the reason" I heard the counselor saying in my had to have been the counselor because, as inevitably happens, I was single-parenting for the first 2 weeks of August.

Ethan, grade 5
Ok--this wasn't brain surgery. Ethan: stressed about starting school. Isaac: stressed about starting school. Omara: stressed about everyone else starting school. Anya: never stressed about anything.
So we got cool back to school haircuts, and went out for ice cream, and read extra books, and ignored as much of the reactive behavior as possible, and Chad made it back to take some of the pressure off me.

Isaac, grade 1
School started on Aug 11, and I'm happy to report that everyone is still alive and kicking. Some days kicking all the way to the car, but kicking is better than the alternative, right? Everyone has great teachers; Ethan's in particular is doing so much to ease his stress with modified assignments, oral testing, and gentleness. I can't tell you the relief and gratefulness I feel! It turns out all that African sun bleached out most of what Isaac learned in KG, so he's not enjoying the steep learning curve again, but he'll get there!

After our meetings with Ethan's teacher, and the obvious efforts she is making to help him, and after he started answering, "Awesome!" to the daily, "how was school?"...I somehow expected we were home free. You know--that parenting would go back to being easy (as if it ever was).

Omara, desperately longing to start school
Of course, that's not the case. I shed a few tears in my coffee as that pipe dream blew up in my face. Ethan is still stressed by the very presence of school--be it with me, or with a kind, patient teacher (yes, those are opposites!) We can't ask for a better teacher, and we can't do more to set him up for success, and it's still going to be a daily exercise of speaking encouragement, ignoring irritations, picking battles, and staying positive.

I didn't ask for this challenge any more than he asked for a brain that has trouble processing at the speed in which life goes by. Any more than he asked to be overwhelmed by challenges and discouraged by failures. Or to be distracted by every single sound and sight and thought.

I didn't ask for it, but I'll accept the challenge, because it's the one that's been given to us. And how can I possibly ask Ethan to face his challenges with courage and determination if I don't show the same?


  1. Enjoyed the read Miriam. Before you know it our kids are going to be walking out the door and off to college, or grown up life at least. Miss you guys!

    1. Yes, I do believe it will be before we know it--after all, I have a 14-year old--that happened without me realizing it! But at the same time, I feel like I've been in the trenches for 14 years now, and the battle is still raging! It's hard to ever imagine looking back and thinking, "wow that flew by!"



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