Friday afternoon was one of those days that as a parent and homeschooler I was glad that I wasn’t writing up as a day in the life post. As often happens with kids, for some inexplicable reason everything as difficult. Schoolwork that on other days is done with a smile (or at least just done) was whined about. Everything took twice was long to do as it should have. And the most annoying to me was that both boys were just being silly to the point where they couldn’t stop.
I’m ok with silliness. I often encourage it. I don’t really see the point of homeschooling if we can’t all have fun. But it’s vital that they know when we need to move on from the silliness. Friday they crossed some imaginary line and just couldn’t come back. Just looking at each other made them double over with giggles. Anything I asked them to do set them off again. I tried multiple different tactics but then I just had had enough. I sent them both to quiet time early and told them there would be no computer time that day. The punishment itself wasn’t that bad and I think was reasonable.
Then I lost it. When they got up from quiet time I gave them a lecture on being respectful and told them how frustrated I was with their behavior. I told them that since they had wasted so much of my time that I didn’t feel like doing fun things that afternoon and they would just have to find things to do on their own. And really, the worst part of it all was my tone and my attitude. I wasn’t being kind and loving but firm. I was being mean. And I knew it.
I sat at the computer doing some work and listening to them play much more quietly than usual downstairs and wondering how in the world to salvage the rest of the day. I knew I’d behaved badly. And yes, I could have just gone down there and apologized to them and hugged them. But I’d crossed a line of my own. It wasn’t so much how to salvage the day with them, it was how to salvage the day in my own heart. I was ashamed of my behavior and like many people when ashamed, I respond with defensiveness. I was having a running dialogue of sorts in my head “Don’t you think you were a little hard on them? Well, yes, but they deserved it. They have to learn respect. You know, they are only seven and four. Sure, but if it doesn’t start now, when does it? ” And so on.
Finally, grace won out. Not grace on my part but grace on God’s part. He softened my heart and took my focus off myself (always a dangerous place to focus). I put on the tea kettle. I called them up and before I could apologize for my behavior, John quietly and sincerely apologized for his. I told them I was equally sorry and asked for their forgiveness. We had mint tea and strawberry pie. We read some. We giggled together some. And just like that all was restored.
This day served as a reminder to me that as a parent, and I think even more as a homeschooler, it really is all about me. My attitude and mood set the tone for the day. My work ethic sets the example for my kids. Do I fail? Absolutely. Over and over again. But that’s not an excuse or a reason not to try to do my best.
And if nothing else, I was reminded that a cup of tea and a slice of pie can heal a lot of wounds.