When raising our kids overseas, we decided early on that they would go to the local schools just like every other kid. That meant that all of their learning was in a different language. Their English classes were probably much like your Spanish or French classes. They didn’t learn American History or read what we would consider “the Classics,” though they did master Latin. They didn’t understand American Government or memorize the State Capitols. And, in the first few years, I was worried.
I always wanted to supplement their education. I wanted to add in little snippets of history or literature or something. I was afraid that they weren’t learning what they needed to get into college or catch up if we ever moved back to the States. But my attempts always failed. They were already going to school. They were already learning and trying and working really hard. Their parent teacher conferences were great. (well, maybe we had one troublemaker out of four) They couldn’t handle more.
One summer, while back in the States, I had a couple of teachers tell me the same thing. They said that the experiences that my kids were having would far outweigh any book learning that they could have received. They were fine. Stop trying to compare them to others and let them flourish right where they were.
We did move back eventually. At the time of return, they had never gone to an American school and they were High School Juniors, an 8th grader, and a second grader. They were lacking some knowledge of the functions of our government and were lacking in some American History facts. They hadn’t read certain books. But, they kept up. They learned a lot. Two are now in college and absolutely flourishing. There was nothing to worry about, mom.
So, here we are. Caught up in a pandemic. Suddenly teaching our kids from home. Working from home ourselves. Doing things we’ve never done before. And worrying that we’re doing it right. I felt it fitting to share my experience. Because, frankly, I believe that you probably are doing it right. You don’t see it, but I see you. My kids are older, I’ve been around, and I can tell you that you’re doing a fine job.
Let me be honest, and I know I risk judgement for this, but I think my kids are crushing it in the education department. My 11 year old bought a cookbook with her own money, and is contributing daily to snacks and meals. I’m not even going to break down the skills this requires like reading, problem solving, math, and fractions. She writes letters and sends cards. She helped to make a list of elderly people in our church who need encouragement and helped deliver flowers. (There was zero contact, and she hasn’t been inside a store since March 14.) She’s helping us with gardening plans for the summer and working in the yard. She goes on 4 mile walks with her dad and has amazing conversations.
My senior is pretty crushed about his circumstances. He was looking forward to asking a girl to Prom. He, of course, was excited for graduation and senior pranks and all the dumb stuff that is also oh so important. He’s proud of where he is so far, and wanted to celebrate it. But, since he’s bored, he got a job. He works hard and is kind. He is generous with his money. He is doing his schoolwork, but more importantly, he is learning so much about taking care of others. He’s learning how the church really works and how to take care of people. He’s getting along with his siblings better than ever before. He has a heart for mission and justice and has been engaging in very important theological discussions. He’s learning that we can disagree with others and still love them deeply. That life has nuance.
So, yeah. They’re doing a great job. Do they stay up too late and watch to much tv and sleep in and have bad attitudes? Um, yes. Of course. Don’t you? (They also ask for ice cream about every day, and I bet you do that too!) Loosen your expectations. Laugh a little more. See joy in the little things. Because, honestly, our time is what we make of it. Our hours lead to days that lead to months and pretty soon this whole thing will be over. Really, it will. (Trust me, I have a kid that’s 21 and I have no idea how I got here so fast.) I’m not saying put on your rose colored glasses and don’t be overwhelmed. I’m saying that you might need to take some pressure off of yourself because you’ve got this and just didn’t realize it yet. Believe me, you can do it. You are enough. You are capable. You can do hard things. I believe in you.