Running. Literal Running. As Opposed to the Usual Figurative Running.

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Running the zoo race today, my first 5K.  My goal is to keep up with Gabriel.  This has me thinking of the goals and benchmarks we set up for ourselves.  It is good to have extrinsic motivators.  I like to use them for academic purposes too.  Things like spelling bees or speech events– any platform will serve as a motivator, which frees me, the usual extrinsic motivator, from that burden.  So today I have two motivators of my own:  the race itself and my 7-year-old.  Briefly I considered the fact that certain running friends might check my time and laugh at my snaily pace, but I dismissed that as a motivator.  Times are Greek to me, and I categorize those folks who understand them into the running psycho lot (where I’ve also lovingly, admiringly placed my husband).  But it does matter to me that I not slow down Gabriel, who’s afraid he’ll not know which way to go. (This is his first big race so he doesn’t yet have that frame of reference that he can follow the hordes of running psychos in front of him.  Note his pre-race expression.)  Actually, before I began running as a form of life-extension, I would label any and every voluntary runner as a psycho.  I would see them along the road, beet red, looking like wounded marines, and I’d think, “What a way to ruin a perfectly beautiful day…”  So, no offense to you serious runners out there– I’m just jealous.  And for the record, my time was 34 minutes something.  Also, for the record, I was NOT able to keep up with Gabriel, whose time was 29 minutes something.  By mile one it was clear to me that either I’d die trying to keep his pace or let him go on ahead.  Either way, he’d be running solo.  Poor thing.  At first he kept circling me and waving me forward.  But after the hill (I’m talking the Cleveland Metroparks Zoo hill that most folks, including me, think should have a heart condition warning to walk up) I just waved him forward and prayed he wouldn’t get lost in the throng.  I knew Bob and Luke would be waiting somewhere ahead as he came across the finish.

I’m glad Bob’s passion for running has rubbed off on my boys, and the truth is, running with them was a pleasure.  When it was over, I mean.  After the race we got to walk around the zoo.  That was fun too.  And we were motivated to keep walking by the reward of seeing cool animals.  Goal-setting is a good thing.  Right after the race I talked to a gal who suggested I run a half-marathon.  “If I can do it, you can do it.” she said.  Hmmm.  We’re always raising the bar.   We’ll see if Gabriel needs a running buddy for his first half marathon… I’ll be right beside him for mile one.  🙂

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Knowledge is Power

My children enjoy making “forts” to sleep in or read on, whatever.  It’s becoming clear to me that my children hate to use items in the manner for which they were intended.  Whether it’s playground equipment, stairs, dowel rods, couches, beds (that’s a big one), they would rather create a new use for it because that’s more challenging and usually results in the object breaking much sooner than would be customary.    This is my youngest reading on the “couch.”  He feels more powerful up there.  And that’s fine.  I tell my kids knowledge is power all the time.  And whenever our knowledge manifests itself in ways like more money or time savings, I don’t hesitate to point that out to my kids.  In fact, the root of all our blessing is knowledge… of God.  Without Him, we wouldn’t know over what we stumble or which way to go.  So, knowledge– the pursuit of it, the respect of it, and the sharing of it– is the foundation of all I do as a home educator.   Knowledge truly is power.  It’s not nerdy.  It’s not shameful.  It’s not boring.  It’s powerful.  That’s the koolaid I give my kids every day of our school year.  Knowledge is awesome, and it begins with God.

If I do no better than to teach my children that learning isn’t a chore, that it’s a gift and a privilege, then I’ve done well.   My job is to provide an atmosphere of safety, freedom, and encouragement; sometimes that means a couch with cushions all askew when I’d much rather it were tidy.   It means allowing the kids to use things in unconventional ways, eg.  breaking perfectly good stuff.  I’m still learning how to leave books scattered all around the living room so that, in a moment of boredom, they’ll pick one up and begin to read.  And just so I don’t forget about it, I left the radio experiment on the living room floor, like roadkill with its circuits splayed all around the purple plastic casing.  I’m not ready to give up on figuring out how to tune in the airport channel.  The signal comes in and then gets scrambled.   Our minds are that way too:  the signal comes in and then gets scrambled.  I need a clear signal. 🙂

A caved-in couch cushion fort that needs the laws of physics applied to it or a forgotten bowl of cereal to which the laws of nature have been applied for too many days– even my radio carcass– these are not just messes.   These are the trail markers we leave behind as we blaze through a wonderful life.

Knowledge is power.   Make sure your children believe that.