Homeschool Life

First Day of School, First Triathlon, NO CEILINGS, & First Day of the Rest of Mom’s Life

Today is the first time I have ever watched one of my children get on a yellow school bus. When people were awed that I homeschooled four kids, I used to tell them homeschooling wasn’t much different than doing homework together.

I take that back.

It’s one thing to be a cog in the great machine of education; it’s another to be responsible for the entirety. I only realize that now, as I watch the bus pull away. With it goes a great weight I didn’t know was there.

Gabe is enrolled in almost all honors classes. His standardized tests put him in the top 97% year after year, so I feel pretty confident he’s where he belongs. Though he’s heard a few what-R-U?-nuts? over it. This is a theme in our family. This, U-nuts? 

Today I’m overwhelmed with nostalgia; I must lay down some words.

Months ago, I intended to post about how Gabe beat his Boston-Marathon-running dad in a 5K race. That’s an accomplishment in and of itself, but it gets better. Gabe hadn’t run any significant distance for six months prior. Zero training. He’s a swimmer, sure, so he has good lungs. But I worried he’d hurt himself. My husband wasn’t the least bit worried.

What-R-U?-nuts? hasn’t concerned any of my children. Katae graduated college at age 20. Tory is a marathoner. Luke’s off to Cornell on a full academic scholarship, and Gabe…

…used the strategy his dad taught him: choose a fast runner and stick with him, just a few yards behind. Let him pace you, and then at the end, turn it on. Gabe blew by his dad in the last quarter mile. Thanks, Dad.

Gabe climbing someplace he shouldn’t…

How did Bob respond? By running an Olympic triathlon. Just kidding—only in that it was the response. The triathlon was a New Year’s Resolution. Bob bought a racing bike in February and began figuring it out. He learned all he could about triathlons.

Race day. Every time Bob mentioned it was his first triathlon, people asked, “Which distance?” He told them Olympic, and they gasped and looked at him like…U-nuts? After a few times of that, Bob began to wonder if he was, indeed, nuts.

Just before the race, a triathlete friend of Bob’s related how his son got into Harvard. The son was apprehensive, but his dad convinced him to reach crazy-high, like, U-nuts? high: Harvard and Stanford. You know what? The kid got into Harvard. Was he surprised? I’m betting yes.

A U-nuts? mentality doesn’t mean you don’t plan. Bob did his homework for the triathlon. He trained. At first, a few laps in the pool laid him low. But he kept at it and eventually could swim a mile without difficulty. He sought pointers from Gabe and other veteran swimmers and cyclists. The race was brutal, but he did it. And he got a time that pleased him, within his goal.

We all know the only regrets we have are the chances we don’t take and the mountains we’ve stared at wistfully but never climbed. The Harvard dad said something along the lines of nothing ventured… People bandy that phrase about, but we mostly don’t live it.

Live it, is what I’m thinking as Gabe goes to high school and Luke to Cornell. If people ask if you’re nuts, look at them like you’re Jack Nicolson from the Shining, just hacked his way through the hotel door. They’ll make way.

 

Today is the first day EVER that I have no child to teach. I guess this is the first day of the rest of my life. I’m already dreaming of things like scrubbing the kitchen floor and learning to cook like Gordon Ramsay.

And finish that second book and publish the first.

And I do get to teach other people’s kiddos, which I’m excited about. I have a class I teach to homeschooled students. Writing and reading. I show them ceilings are bull. They find college English easy in comparison. One has gone on to West Point—starting his second year, one to Germany for college and missionary training, several to Miami University. Lots to local and not-so-local colleges, doing great things. I feel nostalgic for them today. And proud.

Happy First Day of School, First Triathlon, & First Day of the Rest of My Life.

See that little figure? …Gabe.  We all inspire each other.

 

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Personal Journey

The Only Resolution You Need: Be Resolute

Resolute: 1. marked by firm determination 2. bold, steady.

In a fit of New Year’s zeal you wrote a bunch of resolutions. And in a fit of cold reality already broke at least one. Now you’re starting 2017 as a failure. Why even bother with the rest?  New Year’s resolutions are like trains. One car off the track and the whole thing goes. The year’s derailed.

It doesn’t have to be this way. Make resolution your resolution.

Life will throw you down in 2017, of that you can be sure. Determine to get up when you fall, no matter what the goal or circumstance. Decide you’ll keep your vows, your promises, your commitments, both to yourself and to others. When you do that, everything else falls into line. Even a derailed train doesn’t have to stop. Where does it say it has to? A derailed train can keep moving forward, churning the earth into ruts behind it and dragging along whatever freight is there. And what is it doing?

Plowing. Paving its own road.

Imagine that train engine dragging its overturned cars along the tracks, igniting sparks from the flint of will and the drag of steel, bellowing the howl of metal on metal. That’s the mantra of the resolute.

Psalm 15:4 describes a resolute person as one …who keeps a promise even if it ruins him. 

Have you ever committed to something and halfway through, the landscape changed? The workload mutated, the expectation grew claws and horns and sharp teeth? That’s happened to me so many times I now brace for impact when I make a commitment. Call me a cynic. Or a realist. The fact that my commitment morphed into something else does not release me from it, not if I’m resolute. That’s what it means to keep your word no matter what.

Anybody can decide to fast. Deciding’s easy. It’s a word on a page, an intention. Not just anybody can Gandhi their way into changing the world. Don’t think Gandhi didn’t hunger. Don’t think he was some sort of superhero who didn’t need food like the rest of us. The difference between Gandhi and you or me: degree of resolution.

Look, if your resolutions don’t fly off your soul in a heartbeat, you probably don’t care enough to follow through. Limit your focus to a handful of things for which you’d die. They are the freight you’ll be dragging. They’re also the weight that makes you powerful in your momentum. You know the physics: a body’s mass determines its force.

Often our goals contradict one another. Lose weight. Enter ten hot-dog-eating contests. See more friends/family. Find more time for myself. Make more money. Get more sleep. Resolution is a pyre at which I must sacrifice worthy, wonderful, needful, beautiful things. Most of us can’t possibly accomplish all the high-minded and half-hearted goals we wrote in a delirium of self-aggrandizement. A train can’t go east and west at the same time. Take a fresh look at those resolutions. Do they align? Purge until they do.

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At Mount Rushmore, a young man was getting his picture taken. Giving the architectural marvel a middle finger salute.

“Don’t do that,” chided his mother, who was taking the photo. I’ll never forget his answer.

“This is ‘Merica. I can do Whatever… I… Want.”

In ‘Merica, we can flip off the stone busts of the founding fathers. We can do whatever we want. And that’s why we scrawl grand lists and scheme and plan and dream of the future. And some of us put more energy into flipping off life than embracing it. 77% of us would rather write resolutions than accomplish them.

Because it’s easier and more comfortable, we flip off a challenge and console ourselves with next year. But why wait?  If you, like me, like so many ‘Mericans, have trouble keeping your resolutions, try making just one this year: be resolute.

It is a trap to dedicate something rashly and only later to consider one’s vows. – Proverbs 20:25