Thursday, September 25, 2014

Learning notes: Love is the thing

I remember the awful look on my mother's face when I told her I wished I was the only child.

We were on a five-day journey from Iowa to San Francisco. I was 10, that means Jean was 6, Evelyn was 4 and Catherine was 2. It's too bad that the wanderlust that possessed my parents to drive across a foreign country did not make it into my genes.

Pa and Ma, may I have a dash of your bravery please?

My sisters had been arguing and crying for hours. Someone had lost an earring. All four of us were itchy and scratchy from the chicken pox. The old car was chugging along the highways through Utah's desert. I wish I had been paying attention. I am sure the landscape was breathtaking.

Instead, I chose to focus on myself. Woe is me! I am being so good! They are all being so bad! My poor sisters are stuck with this self-righteous oldest sister I can't think of a worse kind.

There it is! My self-righteous face digitized. Apparently, I give them this face a lot.

In her still low voice, my mother warned me to never, ever say that again.

When my mother used her calm voice, I knew then my transgression was much worse than the hours of screaming and crying from my younger siblings. Never, ever wish that I was the only child, she warned me again.

And I have not.

The thing we did, the thing we cherished, the thing we pondered

Last week, we had our first guest teacher.

When our friend Esther from New York City was planning her trip to Chicago, I asked her whether she would be willing to be a guest teacher at our homeschool. She kindly agreed.

She picked one of her favorite picture books as our book of the week and I put her in charge of one activity she would do with the boys. She picked Chickens Aren't the Only Ones by Ruth Heller, a lyrical book about eggs that came with beautiful illustrations. She also chose an eggs-periment (teehee) to do with Emeth, a lesson on hypothesis, observation, note taking, and conclusion.

The week before she arrived, I checked out all the books we needed from our local library. We were ready for her arrival.

What I did not know was that we were going to be sick, sick, and sick.

In God's kindness and mercy, he sent friends to provide fresh vegetable from their garden and grocery (Thank you, Vivian and William and Sharon!). And because Esther and I had planned everything in advance, the Lord even supplied the material and a teacher to teach my children.

People regularly ask me why we choose to educate our children at home. More and more, I simply tell them that I do it because I love doing it, and I would feel like I am missing out if I do not do it. Despite the fact that Hans had to remind me this morning to stop feeling like I am drowning (ha!), I really do love teaching them.

Among my favorite things about being my children's educator are the many hours I get to watch the brothers learning to love one another. I love watching Emeth reading to his younger brothers, Yohanan reading to Khesed, Yohanan helping Emeth with math (I know, it's very sweet). I love how they turn pages for the baby when they listen to audio books, how they are learning (and struggling) to celebrate when other people win at board games, how they are learning to say sorry, to forgive, and put one another first.

I get it now, Ma.

This thing we call love. I felt its gravity in my mother's ashen face. I remember the weight of sadness in her voice. That awful wish, I feel a little sick just thinking about it. There are very few things in life that are sweeter than brothers and sisters loving one another.

I love these weirdos to bits.


Doria Tai said...

I can imagine your mum's low voice, Rev Laura is such a dear teacher. She is always encouraging and serious about sharing with others. I learnt a lot from her.

I am not a bit surprised with your passion to home-school your kids. That part is in your gene. Your ma and pa loves teaching. I think if environment has changed, your ma will home-school you all !

E! said...

<3 thank you for inviting me. I would have missed out otherwise. i am glad you are learning/teaching/being at home.

Catherine Yong said...

Aww :) thanks for putting up with us when we were little annoying things around you!! Hahaha. I'm glad you like us more now :P thank you for loving us. And thank God for such wise pa and ma for teaching us to love each other

Irene Sun said...

Doria - I have fond memories of my mother teaching Sunday school. She is an awesome story teller! =) In a sense, she did "homeschool" us by always helping us with our homework at home. I did not get after-school supplemental teaching (tuition) until I was in Form 4 (for add maths). =) Thank you for your kind words. Always great to hear from a veteran mom!

Esther - I told you this many times, we really, really enjoyed you.

Yeeling - I like you more now? hahahahahaha ... kidding! I think I liked you then too. You made great little people to boss around (that is when you would actually listen to me, which was never). =) Yes, praise be to God for wise parents. And praise be to God for his grace working in and through our brokenness.

E! said...

That scary still low voice. So sternly and deeply kind. Glad for mommas who teach us to love our siblings and give us space to be best friends.