You know, there’s something glorious about having a playground to yourself.

You can twirl on the swing without anyone complaining. You can run up the slide or pour sand down it, and no one will say a thing. You can holler and sing and pretend you have a gun to shoot bad guys with, without any social pressure to be quieter or play nicer.

Whether you’re a parent or a kid, it is easy to be who you are and do what you want when you’re alone. It’s harder when people are watching.

Maybe that’s a good thing? I suppose it’s important to learn social acceptability. But maybe there’s also value in learning to be brave enough to be willing to be socially less-acceptable once in a while.

This has been the conundrum that has challenged me for my entire parenting career.

He thumps down the stairs, every ounce of his seventy-five pounds working the steps, and pirouettes into the kitchen. Pirouettes. Really, like a grubby boy-ballerina, followed by a sock-footed slide over to the fridge. Open the door and stand there, bopping and snapping fingers, reach in, find apple, hip-check the door closed.

No audience that he knows of. Not a performance. Just joy, pure and simple.

Away he goes, back up the stairs to listen to iPod stories in his room. The other boys are in their spaces. The reading boy, reading. The guitar-playing boy, playing. It’s an afternoon like a million afternoons, and I feel like I could stay here, perfectly happy, forever.


Joy. Pure and simple.

He’s put John Denver on repeat to ease the algebra, and I’m thinking it’s been a long time. I’ve missed you, John. All the songs about trees and mountains and eagles flying and mothers laughing. The beautiful guitar and that dad and his fiddle and the feather bed. And Annie. And saying goodbye. Time passes; math is done. Outside, then, for space and movement and air.


The other boy is upstairs, cuddling under the covers of his bed, writing and reading and calling for a snack. And could I sharpen his pencil for him, please? And does he really have to do six pages? And could he read one chapter instead of two today? And what’s for lunch? Did Colton go outside? Can I be done?


And the oldest, away building music at school. He’s putting the strings on his guitar today. That’s the plan, anyway. And bringing the baby home this weekend. Seven weeks to birth this one, from rough board to the smooth, curved masterpiece, and he’s named it, already. I can’t wait to hear it sing.


This is what I am noticing, today. Boys, boys, boys. The conversation of my home.

Colton's doodle of a Metis boy

Colton’s doodle of a Metis boy

You can find my words over at How to Homeschool High School today. A little letter to Anne about art and muskrats. Love to see you there if you don’t mind popping over for a quick visit!

Have a great weekend! I’m off to the spa with some friends to talk about writing and such. Yay, me!

I’m blogging today at How to Homeschool High School, where we are talking about family communication and art. I’d love for you to join in there.

Here’s a taste of the conversation:

In families, especially families that spend as much time together as do homeschooling families, communication is extra easy, and extra hard. We do a lot of it, but we don’t always do it well. And there’s the extra pressure, sometimes, to do it exceptionally well because, you know, we’re homeschooling families and it’s supposed to be one of our strengths. And we think people are watching…

Be blessed, friends, as you go about your day!


The boys are settled into math this morning, one on the couch and one on the loveseat. Settled may be a generous description, as we’re struggling a bit to return to the routine of structured learning. In other words, we’re struggling with math.

I’ll do the problems, but I’m not checking them.

That’s Carter’s statement this morning, as we look at the pages he is to complete. Grumble. Sigh. Pick at a toenail. Grumble. Draw dragon pictures in the white spaces on the page. Sigh.

I’ll do the problems, but I’m not checking them, he repeats, just to make sure I’ve understood the line he’s drawing in this morning’s mathematical sand.

Got it.

I think, as I brush my teeth and plan what I will fix for supper and decide whether or not to bake muffins and make the bed and make a phone call… I think as I do all these things about the lines I draw.

I’ll do this, but not that.

These are the little bargains I make – with my husband, with my children, with God, with church, with myself.

It’s how I keep a little bit of control over whatever it is I’ve decided (or been told) I need to do.

It’s not a bad thing, I suppose, in many situations. I don’t mind if Carter doesn’t check his math problems. I don’t mind him finding ways to feel in control in difficult situations.

Except that, we don’t always. We don’t have control, a lot of the time, and while it might feel good to draw a line, sometimes you can’t.

Today is September 11, 2013, and twelve years ago a line was crossed.

Today, on the anniversary of that day that changed so much and affected so many people, we’re doing math in our living room. Today, social media will be awash with memorials and tributes and flags and commentary, and there will be political discussions and people will find things to disagree about. But in our home, in our living room, we are doing math. Carter is doing his work, in peace, and his only concern is how many pages he has to complete, and I’m incredibly and selfishly thankful for that.

My words are next door today, over at How to Homeschool High School. Anne and I have started writing letters back and forth, and it’s so much fun. I’d love to have you join us.


My letter to Anne today is part reflection (summer is almost over, you know) and part kick-in-the-pants. I’m still trying to figure out how we (my son, Colton, and I) are going to approach the rest of his homeschool experience. Structured? Relaxed? High School transcript or not? College credit courses?


Please pop in on the conversation, and if you have any wisdom to share, that would be fabulous.

And enjoy the last days of summer. We are trying to.