We’ve been on break and while we’ve been busy, I can’t totally say with what. I just know we have been. Busy enjoying the weather. Busy watching TV. Busy building with Legos. Busy seeing friends, playing soccer, starting ballet again, auditioning for community theater, painting the back porch. Just life.
I’ve also been busy with birthday planning. Mushroom and BalletBoy are officially nine and officially in fourth grade now. So, of course, I had to plan for these things. I had to plan their Box Day, when we open all the new books. I had to plan their birthday, wrap the presents, cook a special dinner, make cards, decorate the house. I had to plan their birthday party and that one was particularly a feat of planning, making T-shirts for the kids, setting up a mammoth obstacle course, putting out food. And now we’re back to school, so I’m lesson planning and teaching again.
As I hand-printed those T-shirts I was struck not by how I like silly crafty projects (though that’s clearly true too), but by how this is how I show my love for my kids. I’m always there planning stuff for them. I plan Shakespeare camps and Destination Imagination teams. I plan elaborate field trips and co-op classes. I plan just right Christmases and roadside excursions on trips. To continue encouraging BalletBoy’s love of movie making, I am considering planning a mini-homeschool film fest later this year. I’m their personal event planner. As I set up the party in the field I had reserved, a stranger asked me if I was an actual event planner. “You must do this professionally,” he said. I didn’t know whether to laugh or what.
It reminded me of that pop psychology concept of love languages. I’m not always a fan of pop psych stuff like this, but I’ve found this one (I’ve never read the book, just seen the little summary) strangely useful framework. I’ve never been anyone else’s event planner, but clearly this is how I show my love for my kids. It’s acts of service to them, all the time. Of course, we’re also a cuddly family and all about giving specific praise and spending time together, but at the heart of it, this is the thing I do.
Really, this is what homeschooling is to me. I could talk about my educational reasons (there are many) or my practical ones (plenty of those too) but really it’s an act of love and a tangible way to show that I love them, through my actions and service. I wake up every morning and start teaching math in my pajamas, shuttle them to activities, organize field trips, stay up researching the right programs and picking dictation passages at night because I love them and this is how I can show that.
Will they get it? Well, in a way, it doesn’t matter. They appreciate me and appreciate my efforts with words of thanks and looks of joy often enough. They will benefit from the educational and practical reasons even if they never see it as an act of love. In a way, I do it for myself. Service is for the server as much as the beneficiary, right?