“I will teach you the good and the right way”
1 Samuel 12:23
Okay, well, we’re a month into school now, and can we just talk about work and organizational habits? ‘Cause boy, are my two kids on opposite ends of the spectrum.
My daughter ~ my oldest ~ is, well, a girl. And the oldest. So you probably won’t be surprised when I tell you that her work habits are pretty much what you’d find in a textbook under Type A. She doesn’t write her name on her papers (that’s unnecessary, of course, in our little homeschool) but she writes the date, and the section or page number of the textbook, whichever’s appropriate. I never have any trouble grading her work, because I can immediately find my place in the answer key.
She also has impeccable handwriting (usually. Sometimes she gets busy…) and if that’s not enough, she has always drawn a line under the answers in her math homework, and highlighted them as well. This makes it super easy for me to locate the answer amongst all the work that goes into solving a math problem.
She takes notes while she reads her textbooks, she makes flashcards, and uses all this to study for her tests, and then after she takes the tests, she gives me all her notes to file in her “completed work” folder.
Her desk is clean, her pencils are sharpened. I wouldn’t be surprised to find out that she recites the Pledge of Allegiance every morning before she gets started.
My son. Well I’ll tell you this: he’s adorable. He’s light-hearted and friendly. Joy-filled and joy-giving. Heck, when I wake him up in the morning, the kid smiles at me before his eyes are even open! Who does that?? My daughter, on the other hand, has a t-shirt that says, “I’m sorry for what I said when you tried to wake me this morning.”
It’s okay… she gets that from me. I understand.
My point is, he has that same carefree approach to school, too. Not with his education, mind you. It’s important to him to get it done, and get it done right. But his work habits ~ not so much. Pretty much everything I said about my daughter up there? You can put a “not” in front of it, and it will describe my son. We have to look for his papers, I have to ask him what questions these answers go with, and he’s sweet and sincere and apologetic every time.
Now, it’s important to note two things: First, she’s a Senior and he’s a Freshman. She’s had a few years to perfect this high-school thing, and it’s all very new and slightly overwhelming for him. Secondly, he’s been homeschooled all his life, while she had a few elementary years in a local private school. Some of those good habits of hers were drummed into her early on.
And here’s the wonderful thing: none of this bothers me at all. I don’t even feel myself getting frustrated, feeling that he’s sloppy or disorganized. I encourage him and remind him and I trust that he’s learning as he goes. He’s just being who he is, and becoming a better person at the same time. Which is pretty much what all of us are doing.
See, God’s got His rules (please see Exodus 20) but I think He’s also more flexible than we think He is. I mean, not about the Ten Commandments, of course, and loving Him above all else, and loving our neighbor, etc… But I mean about how we learn and how we love. Fasting, honoring the Sabbath, church attendance, daily prayer time, communion… The Bible rarely tells us how, or how often, even about very important things. I think that’s because He wants us to find our own way. Just like I do with my son. The grades matter. The learning matters. But I don’t want to hold him to an arbitrary standard.
When God gives us instructions about something, there’s no other right way. But there’s not as many wrong ways as the Pharisees of life would have you believe. He is the the only One you have to please.