We have had some fun, on some days. Like when James, Dan and I went to the woods, and did a nature collection, fed the ducks and swans and had lunch together. The next day James and I made a huge nature picture featuring photographs of our time in the woods, and some of our nature collection. We both enjoyed that.
But most days have been full of struggles. James has been quite out of sorts. He's been angry, confrontational, defiant. He's been cheeky, silly, and distracted. He's been really unenthusiastic about many of our plans (things we both had talked about and agreed on), and unresponsive to my attempts to direct him or challenge his behaviour. To some extent I think this is due to the disruption of the change from school to home. Perhaps he is just pushing the boundaries because I'm his mum and I am trying to carve out a new role as his teacher. Maybe he's reacting to the newness of the circumstances, and things will settle down. I hope they do.
I am trying to be flexible, to think about the options for different ways of learning and interacting. At the same time I am worried about what other people are thinking - how do I convince my husband and other family members that this is going to work out, that we can be adaptable and unconventional and still give our son a well rounded and effective educational experience? How do I convince myself?
I haven't behaved particularly well either. I've been cross and shouty, and too, too serious. I've been anxious to get things done in a certain way, to achieve my goals according to my timescales. I've been talking too much and listening too little. And the furrowed line in the centre of my forehead is getting deeper! I thought I was well prepared for last week. Now I think I've been flying blind.
Preparedness for me has always been about the external - the paperwork, the to-do lists, the right things in the right places, the materials and the books, the trips and the experiences. But I have not prepared myself. And I have not prepared James. Our relationship has taken a bit of a beating over these last few months, as he and I have struggled to navigate the ups and downs of school and home life, and to communicate in our different languages (that's what it feels like some days).
I thought that being prepared meant having the right plans for each day and each week's work, planned responses for this and that behaviour. Now I realise that being prepared is much more than that. It's about me being a mum, the right kind of mum for James. It's about my heart and his. It's about our relationship, our connection, our trust. I am not here to control him, but to nurture, not to boss, but to train, not to do for, but to show. My role is to care, to love, to bless. I am to raise him towards adulthood with care and affection. And our homeschooling journey is now a major part of that. I want to worry less about what he is achieving academically, and concentrate more on how he is developing as a person.
"Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is older he will not turn from it". (Proverbs 22:6)
I am going to spend some time thinking about what kind of character I would like James to become, and how I can help him to grow into that character. I'll be on my knees praying a lot - I need all the help I can get!