It was a wet, cold and rainy Monday that mostly seemed like just another school day. The only difference was that it was time to pull the plastic off my sixth grader’s new Math curriculum.
I’ve been inspired by some great teachers on this homeschooling journey to remember that it’s better for us to plod our way carefully and thoroughly through a curriculum until we understand it all, than to rush our way to the final lesson by the end of the school year so that we can jump into the next year’s curriculum on the first day of school.
We started this beautiful curriculum (RightStart Math) when Asher was a bright and happy little five year old. We put numbers in front of teddy bears and matched the cards that would add up to ten. We build pyramids from tiny centimeter cubes. We played games to help us remember our multiplication facts and compare fractions with percentages.
We even talked about how finding the right answer in Math is a lot like looking for truth: two different answers can’t both be true, and the truth matters.
We’ve definitely cried a few tears. Turned some erasers into nubs. Thought about balling up a worksheet or two to file it in the trashcan. But we’ve persevered.
So I finally pulled the plastic off Level G (we started at A), and began looking over the first lesson in preparation for a new year of school.
I was in for a big surprise.
The notes I normally start by reading at the beginning of that lesson were addressed NOT to me… but to my student. He has transitioned to a year where he will be guiding himself through his Math curriculum.
There have been review lessons where I get to hand Asher a worksheet and let him get down to business and show me what he’s learned, but 95% of the time, Math has been me, sitting beside him, asking the questions, discussing the lesson, guiding and leading.
I didn’t know whether to cheer or cry. Or both. (I chose both.)
So teach us to number our days,
That we may gain a heart of wisdom.
I immediately wondered: if I had known that last lesson was the last lesson, would I have done anything differently? And I remembered that for the first time I’d filled out the little paper certificate that comes at the end of each year’s curriculum, filled it out, and written a note of encouragement on the back, commending Asher for his hard work and how well he’d done through the year.
I was grateful I’d taken the time to do that… but if I’d known that last lesson was the last lesson I’d have to really sit down and “teach” him… what might I have done differently?
I wonder how much of our lives we would live differently if we knew? If we knew “this is the last chance I will have to speak to this person on the phone.” Or this is the last time I’ll shampoo this child’s hair, she is going to take showers now.
The truth is, most of the time we don’t know. We don’t know we’re saying goodbye for the last time. We don’t know we’re coaching the last game, attending the last meeting, having the last conversation.
But what would we change if we acted like it might be?
I think we’d say a lot more of the things we’re glad we decided to say, and maybe we’d say fewer of the things we afterwards tend to regret.
I think we’d be more enthusiastic. Less distracted. More present.
I think I would have taken even more time, and moved more slowly through the previous year’s curriculum, enjoying all the lessons where we were just supposed to play card games and strengthen our skills, instead of rushing along to try to reach the end.
With all the things you and I tend to do, and all the change that tends to take place over the course of a lifetime, tomorrow probably holds at least some small last chance for all of us. To smile at a neighbor or send a card or make that one phone call. Or pop some popcorn and have a party to celebrate finishing a year of Math.
The wisdom that comes from numbering our days might also be the perspective that can only come from remembering how, way leads on to way, as Robert Frost put it in The Road Not Taken:
“And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.”
It does so often seem that way leads on to way. Remember you won’t come back to today, dear friends, so perhaps every chance you get? Savor the moment. Share the kindness. Choose the road that looks most like love.
I hope you’re encouraged today, friend. If so, I’d love to welcome you to subscribe here for a weekly dose of encouragement.
Update on Blake :: Thank You So Much For Your Love + Prayers!!
Saturday night, I stood in the entranceway to our living room watching four Collie children crowded around the coffee table playing together, and I wept. It is such a joy to have our kids together, and the reminder that these moments are gifts is still very, very fresh! Blake continues to do so, so well. He is sleeping in his own room, in his own bed on the bottom bunk, and sleeping well. His left arm and hand continue to improve and when he notices himself doing something difficult with his left hand, and turns to show me, his face lights up. (And, it is hard not to giggle: because of his short term memory deficits, he sometimes has that same “I’m doing this for the first time!” celebration feeling more than a few times!)
Our entire family is so excited about the party Saturday and Blake is very enthusiastically looking forward to it! We are planning to enjoy singing and giving thanks with a talented band who are dear friends, and then another dear friend of mine has some fun activities planned for the kiddos to make this party a great celebration! Please plan to come, bring a lawn chair, maybe a picnic, or an extra lawn game… pray for beautiful weather and join us in the celebration!!!
Blake asked some more questions this week about his aneurism — specifically what would happen if it started bleeding again. I explained that he’d get another headache and we would take him to the hospital again and they would stop the bleeding again. I was amazed at how he took this information — as easily as if it was nothing to fear. A shrug of the shoulders and he was onto the next subject while I was trying to calm my own heart rate. Please continue to pray for our sweet and brave boy — that the gamma radiation and our many prayers would be successful and the AVM would indeed disappear, that Blake’s first neuro-opthalmology appointment would go very well on Wednesday, for the complete healing of his vision and wounds, and for the strengthening and recovery of his short term memory. He is remembering better and better and more and more — you can sometimes see a difference from one day to the next!
God has been good to us! We look forward to Raising a Hallelujah for His goodness on Saturday!! Please join us!!