I recently read a book called Being Bread. In one of the early chapters, the author describes a morning commuter scene, parents rushing through the subway with their children to get to their morning destinations on time. In the middle of this scene a famous musician is playing his 300 year old Stradivarius. Out of the over one thousand people who pass through the subway station this morning, only seven people stop to enjoy the gorgeous music played on this rare instrument. All of them are children, and all of them are pushed on by their parents who are too busy to stop to appreciate the auditory treat. The author makes the comment that we only recognize quality music when the musician is dressed up properly and performing in Carnegie Hall at $150 per ticket.
He gave me pause to think. I doubt I would have done any better when my kids were little if I were rushing to get them to school or a sitter before going to my own job. Life is so busy, jobs are hard to come by, and there isn’t room in my daily schedule to stop and appreciate anything, or I would be late. So I really understand those parents.
And then I reflected that that was one of the many good reasons why I chose to home-school – and, I might add, was privileged enough to be able to do so through high school. Homeschooling isn’t a mad rush from one mindless task to another, tyrannized by time and the demands of others. We did have a schedule and structure, yes, but we did have time to stop and sniff the flowers, listen to a street musician, or ponder and discuss an important idea that just popped out of nowhere. We had time for the annual State of the Union address, for Presidential inaugurations. We watched as Ted Kennedy was put to rest (to mention one of the last important figures who died recently). We ‘were there’ watching at the umpteenth anniversary for the Martin Luther King, Jr. “I have a dream” speech. And we watched the aftermath of 9/11 George Bush’s speeches, Tony Blair’s speeches.
I could mention a slew of other hall mark events that we took time out for. One year during elections we did a mock election ourselves, and we followed the maps all day, as well as go to vote, and my kids each got to punch a hole in my ballot.
When I look back, and I think of the million and one good reasons to home school, one of the major gifts we were able to give to our children by staying home every morning, having a leisurely breakfast, cleaning up, and then starting school with about 1 hour of prayers, read alouds and literature discussions was that they know how to stop, ponder things, enjoy things. We were not over-scheduled with activities, we sat, we were, we thought, and we were together.
My home-schooled children would have stopped at that Stradivarius playing in the subway (I hope I would have too) and because we were homeschooling, likely, I would not have rushed them on because I would not have been in a tearing rush. If we were on the subway that morning, likely we would have been headed for a day at the zoo, or the art museum, or the science museum, or perhaps a trip into the mountains. We would have had the time. We did have the time back then. And I am so grateful for those years of low-to-no rush, of living and being to the fullest.