It is a glorious afternoon. Warm and breezy, comfortable in the shade. The two little ones have both been asleep for over two hours (to WHAT do I owe this good fortune?!) and Asher has spent most of that time happily creating mud in the backyard, and then splashing in it. And I? Have done nothing. I have no deadline to meet, no report to write. No laundry to fold (of course there is always laundry to fold, but we're pretending this afternoon that none exists), no appointment to schedule. I have SAT in the sunshine, a turtle on a rock, craning my neck to enjoy the GLORY of the afternoon.
Which is to say, life is immeasurably better now that I'm no longer working.
This morning we had plans with friends that fell through at the last minute, and we found ourselves strapped in car seats, ice melting in water bottles, with nothing planned. So we drove to a park with a walking trail, and stumbled on biosystems engineers (“It used to be ag sciences,” the young man said as he removed his ball cap to wipe his brow) working to protect an eroding stream. The men were gracious enough to allow the boys to help scatter hay, and my children heard the word “conservation” for the first time. They spent the best part of their morning stomping around in the heat, Asher stopping occasionally to remark, “It's fun to put the ground back the way God made it, before people messed it up.”
God bless him.
And that moment – my two little boys playing in the hay, seeing and touching and smelling what it means to work and learn something new, stopping occasionally to check on the dozing baby in the shade – that moment is why homeschooling appeals to me. The world is round and great big and just so interesting, but education too easily becomes about ringing bells and inside voices. Report cards and snack money and Spanish clubs have their place in the world, don't get me wrong. But maybe when you're five, or six, or seven, learning should be about what you see and touch, and walking behind men with tractors and ball caps for a few hours on a Thursday morning.
I wrote this yesterday afternoon. This morning was spent in the backyard playing Engineers. The boys packed their backpacks with notebooks, pencils, water bottles, a tape measure, and a map. And I showed him how to collect data. We measured the width of the retaining wall, counted the shoes and ride-on toys, measured the length of lawn chairs, counted the swings. Each time he would write the number in his little notebook.