Hear that? That is the deafening sound of another academic year reaching its close. Pip-pip and break open the junky cereal!!
And for those of you who find your fibers inextricably woven to the rhythm of the more traditional school system (no judgement. Everybody has a past) who are squirming right now because doesn’t it seem like you should keep going for another month or so, and then make sure to start back up mid-August? Or better still, be a good homeschooler and school year round? I scoff in your general direction (though obviously with compassion on the first instance and shuddering on the second. Traditional schoolers don’t know any better. Year-round schoolers… just know too much), which is actually fairly tricky to do while simultaneously sipping a margarita and shoving school books in a closet. The things I do for you people…
(Ok fine, it wasn’t a margarita. That would have been cool, but instead it was the weirdest, tastiest hardcore nutty hippie trail mix I have ever encountered, that I feel morally compromised for purchasing because you know the founder is going to spend the money on bat wings and newt tongues.)
The point is, the Quail worked their feathers off this year and finished up their books this week and we say hoo-rah for no snow days or silly holidays like Labor Day or President’s Day and seeing the end in sight, so you opt to do 3 lessons a day for 5 days rather than stretch the school year out a single week longer than absolutely necessary. You cannot tell me they are not learning life lessons here. Plenty of things are not better as long, drawn out experiences. Ice cream, labor and chicken pox all come to mind.
I’ve never been able to grasp the year-round homeschooling concept, despite being related to folks who do it on purpose, not even as the result of having lost a bet. I understand, conceptually, that they have become convinced that their offspring actually learn better or some such rot, and I am sure that is all fine and good… no. I don’t really think that. It just sounded like the right thing to type here. I am aghast at the idea of not getting summer break. But you do get breaks, they tell me, we take time off every 7 weeks/3 months/insert a schedule I don’t understand here!
And they always say it like it should be compelling or attractive. Like receiving your first pelvic exam and having the doctor comment, mildly, that you might feel “a little pressure.” That is NOT what he would call it if he was in the stirrups. A week off is not enough! I barely get my first insane spree of baking out of my system in the first week! And I hate having things hanging over my head. It’s bad enough having September hanging over my head!
I digress, don’t I… Like, a lot.
The point is, we were successful. This morning before the Quail hit the books (you can imagine it if you have ever seen an owl fly full speed into a sliding glass door), we sang Psalm 122, reviewed catechism questions from the year (we are 4 questions away from finally finishing the Westminster Shorter Catechism. Phew!), and recited the year’s Bible verses (all put to rather fantastic rhythms and cadences. Is it bragging to tell you I am a savant at putting the world to a beat? True story), which include Hebrews 11, Ephesians 6, Colossians 3, Proverbs 25:28 and Philippians 2:14. These also make great ring tones.
And we celebrated by…. (drumroll, please) Going to Costco.
Now, I am aware of how this sounds to most of you. It sounds mildly mentally impaired to say that no really, we get a kick out of going out to the grocery store together. We get excited when the UPS man comes (my UPS man is better than yours. Seriously. This isn’t pride speaking, we just love love love Brian and always try to have a fresh baked something or other to hand him when he comes. He brings my boxes all the way into the house, smiles, even pulled his mask off during the season when my mailman was shrieking at me to get my germy self back inside — he brings in the packages that the slacker FedEx dumps on the step), we run to windows when large machinery drives by, we are tickled when we see Daddy’s truck in the field across the road. My Quail, aged almost 9 all the way up to 16, have always been like this and I am personally delighted that they are still people who know how to be delighted.
The first time I realized how odd we look to other people (and not just because of the tatted mama Quail. Incidentally, we are into the time of year where I get stopped by every second person to tell me how much they love my ink. It’s a crying shame my tattoo guy stopped speaking to me. I am a walking advertisement for his talent) was in a Safeway parking lot. We were scurrying across the parking lot when a flock of seagulls flapped by and the Quail burst out, pointing with delight, and a fellow shopper stopped dead in her tracks, eyebrows cocked at a curious angle, and commented that you didn’t see that every day…
I think at the time I probably said something trite and obvious, like, “Yeah, we don’t get out much,” or, “They live in a big box with small holes. Lots of room to run around, not much contact with the outside world.” And… well… that was probably true. But as the years have passed, and the capacity of my Quail to be delighted over ordinary occurrences has grown, I have decided that it is one of their most admirable qualities.
Truth be told, we are ignorant people about most everything that matters. We are the ridiculous people that think, deep down, that our joy is connected by a rather tenuous thread to our circumstances, so that when they hit a pothole, the connection snaps and we despair. And then we bemoan how stressful/overwhelming/”bad” our recent days have been and completely miss 2 extremely important, and honestly obvious things:
- No matter the flimsy threads that propped up your mood, if you are in Christ, then your joy is bound to Christ Himself, and not with some fabric-of-our-lives cotton thread, but with a thick, unbreakable chain of gold, held fast by the cords of His unchanging love. Why are you staring at the pothole, as if you have been pulled down into it, when the Almighty holds you fast, when you CANNOT DROP?
- Your life, in the midst of every circumstance, is completely saturated with mercies. Remember being a kid and thrilling at the sound of sirens, racing to the window to see a police car or an ambulance? Yes, you say, but it was a lot more fun when I was not the one holding someone’s hand while they took a ride in it. Yes. It was. But awe can remain. You can sit in that ambulance and begin to thank God that blanket warmers are standing by, that sounds can still capture your attention, that hot coffee is a thing and that it likely awaits you when the ride is over. The list could go on. It should. It must.
Choose to be someone who doesn’t get out into worldly thinking much. Look up. See Christ. Give thanks.