On those days when all of your best efforts just aren’t enough to get the train up the hill, it’s probably best to pump the breaks and take a rest. Morning Time kicked off with a pirate treasure hunt, then moved onto MadLibs and play-dough and Legos — oh my! Scripture and Shakespeare were full of truth and goodness; Nature Study was full of beauty…and…then…things began to derail when it came time for nature journaling.
Asher had told himself before the pencil ever hit the paper that he couldn’t do it. While he never said it aloud, it was written all over him (that limp-noodle body language speaks volumes). With supernatural love speaking louder than my internal impatience, I urged him to try his best. Encouraging words just weren’t quite enough to pull him from the doldrums. Nevertheless, we persevered. Not because he wanted to, but because I sat with him and wouldn’t allow him to quit. I cheered him on and complimented his finger spacing between words. His perfectionist personality type can be a huge stumbling block when it comes to subjects like handwriting and drawing; frustration ensues when he can’t make the paper look like what he sees in his mind.
In these frequent situations, my attitude can go one of two ways:
1. I can allow that frustration to sweep us both out to sea and chide him for what some might see as a lack of effort.
2. I can look at the little boy God has entrusted to me, see both his strengths and weaknesses, and love him through it all.
A few hours after nature journaling time, he walked into the living room where I was folding laundry. Shoulders slumped and face fallen, he said, “Mom, I just have this big ball of feelings that I don’t know what to do with. I feel sad, like crying, and I don’t know why.” I gathered him up in my arms and told him that I sometimes feel that way, too. I thanked him for telling me his feelings, and snuggled him close. “Mom, do you think we could cuddle up and take a nap?” So we did, because hours earlier I had chosen option number two. How would our day have gone had I allowed frustration to reign? What would he have done with his big ball of feelings then? Over our three years of homeschooling, I’ve come to understand that it’s rarely just about the handwriting. The seeming problem at hand is usually a telltale sign of the condition of my son’s heart.
I’m so thankful that I stepped back and followed the Holy Spirit’s prompting. It was an incredibly humbling experience to realize that I held my son’s heart in my hands when I made the choice to extend kindness in the face of frustration. Keane was more than happy to join us on the couch, and we all crashed for a good two hours. Asher enjoyed his first nap so much that he took another one thirty minutes after waking up from the first. That, my friends, is God’s grace in action.