Friday, May 8, 2009

Spring Fever Cure #3: Have a Party!

I remember how homeschooling felt in the middle of May. The year was winding down. We would still be working on in our school room, but no one wanted to be there.

On one particular morning, Ben rubbed his eyes and put his head on his desk. Josh stared out the window. I couldn't think very well. I kept forgetting things. All that was going through my head was the overwhelming thought that I couldn't do this even one more hour. My heart ached for my sons who were struggling to overcome the lethargy that had settled over us. We were all tired from a late ball practice the night before. We had been working hard in our little school for nine months, and I was out of ideas for prodding us to keep at it a little longer. But I was grimly determined that we would finish the year -- and not open to doing anything that were deter us from reaching that goal as soon as possible.

The problem was, I could feel that we were headed for one of those scenes. You know, the kind that blows up the school room and leaves everyone unable to do anything productive for the rest of the day.

"Do something fun." This odd suggestion ran through my thoughts that morning as I glanced over at Ben's head down on his desk. I pushed it away.

It came back, "Do something fun."
I don't want to risk getting off track. We will never get back to doing real work again.

Still, it persisted, "Do something fun."
I don't have time for this.

"Do something fun."
I don't have the energy to be creative right now.

"Don't worry about all that. Just do it."

Then it hit me. These thoughts were in second person -- addressed to me directly. Not only that, but I was actively resisting and arguing with the intruder. The only conclusion I could draw from this was the earth-shattering notion that this new idea could not be coming from my own head.

How many times had I asked God to guide me as I tried to be a good mom and teach my kids? Was it possible that He was trying to do that right now? Sure, the idea of doing something fun at that moment seemed like nonsense. But that was what stopped me in my tracks. It was so utterly unlike my own inclination when I am under pressure. When challenged, I tend to simplify and stay on task. Was it possible that God was trying to direct my steps to a path that I would not choose on my own?

I took a leap of faith. "Boys, we are going to have a party."

They stared at me. "Mom, are you feeling okay?"

They really thought I was unwell. Never, never had they seen anything like this from their very serious and devoted homeschool teacher. It was time for math and composition. There were projects to complete, deadlines to meet. It was 10:00 in the morning. A Party? Utter nonsense.

I put on some music. We made a coffee cake, and some chocolate-flavored coffee. We filled a platter with fruit and cheese and crackers. We lit a scented candle and decorated the table with it. I got out some leftover party napkins and little plates. I let the boys have as much to eat and drink as they wanted. We read a book aloud. We watched an educational movie. We went out to the porch and played a board game. We blew bubbles from the porch. We played with the cats and laughed at their antics. I got out the watercolors and colored pencils and pads of art paper. We did art outside -- anything we felt like drawing or painting. We laughed and joked and hugged one another.

It was wonderful.

And so was the next day, in our school room with our books and our lessons. School had gone from gray to full color again. We met our deadlines. We finished our projects. We remembered about joy.

And every afternoon after that for two weeks we had flavored coffee and cake and music while we worked.

It amazed me then. It still amazes me now. What a difference the little things can make.


  1. We went to the park today for a picnic and stayed for a while, even when it began to sprinkle.

    I'm all for the cake every afternoon!

  2. This would not come naturally to me either. But my ear is tuned to the suggestion and perhaps tomorrow, we shall have a party!


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