Archive for May 14th, 2007

Happy to Us

May 14, 2007 @ 3:45 pm | Filed under:

Our eyes met across a crowded room, and he wondered why there was a middle-schooler at a college party.

And here I thought I looked so sophisticated in my awesome blue cowboy boots.

Ah, well. He upgraded his opinion of me soon enough, after we’d been cast opposite one another in the spring play, and he discovered I was smart enough to get all his jokes.

I’m pretty sure that’s what hooked him. Or it might have been the fact that I had a car, and it was a loooong walk to the comic book store in town.

Or the fact that I was as big a Lord of the Rings geek as he was.

Or my excellent crock-pot chili.

Whatever it was, I’m grateful for it.

Eighteen years later (thirteen since the wedding day), he’s still making me laugh. I drive a minivan now with two carseats and three boosters in the back, and he’s the guy putting the comic books in the stores. I still make a mean chili, although now it’s vegetarian because Mr. Meat-and-Potatoes gave up eating beef.

Last night we watched part of The Lord of the Rings, and he didn’t even mind when I got all goosebumpy over Aragorn.

Our eyes are still meeting across crowded rooms. Only now they’re crowded with our own offspring (who, let’s face it, make as much noise as a bunch of drunken college kids). I still haven’t managed to pull off "sophisticated," boots or no boots. He doesn’t seem to mind. There’s a look in his eyes that says he’d live it all over again, even the hard parts. Talk about goosebumps.

Man, can I pick ’em.

Why I Am -Inspired

Jane wrote:

I love your approach, Lissa. Why stick to one way of teaching and learning?

You know, I can see an argument in favor of adopting one consistent methodology and sticking to it. Actually, Charlotte Mason herself makes that argument in my beloved Volume 6:

“The reader will say with truth,—’I knew all this before and have always acted more or less on these principles’; and I can only point to the unusual results we obtain through adhering, not ‘more or less,’ but strictly to the principles and practices I have indicated. I suppose the difficulties are of the sort that Lister had to contend with; every surgeon knew that his instruments and appurtenances should be kept clean, but the saving of millions of lives has resulted from the adoption of the great surgeon’s antiseptic treatment; that is, from the substitution of exact principles scrupulously applied, for the rather casual ‘more or less’ methods of earlier days.”

I admit to having sometimes read these words with a wince, feeling a pang of guilt over not having scrupulously applied any one set of principles. I am an adapter, a tweaker, a “take what works and leave the rest” sort. And here we see Miss Mason herself tsk-tsking the “casual” manner in which I have applied her ideas to my children’s education.

(It isn’t really “casual.” I’m just not going 100% by her book.)

After the wince I always remember that I am working with real people here, and real circumstances quite unlike any Miss Mason might have envisioned when designing her curriculum. She can’t have imagined a mother trying to hear narrations while a hard-of-hearing toddler chatters loudly in the background, like an old man with an ear trumpet unaware that he’s shouting, and a winsome baby steals the pupils’ attention by threatening to take her first walk across the carpet when (gasp, not permitted!) Daddy isn’t home. I doubt she envisioned her method being put to work in homes in which the bulk of the day consists of one adult having full responsibility for the care and education of multiple children, AND meal preparation, AND basic housekeeping. And our “ands” could go on, couldn’t they? AND having paid work to do, AND having to spend a lot of time traveling to doctors’ appointments, AND etc etc etc.

Which is not to say one CAN’T home-educate in complete accordance with Charlotte Mason’s principles. Many people do (check out the Ambleside webring), beautifully, happily, and with great success.

I’m just saying that for me, my family, our tastes and circumstances, CM-inspired works better than full-on CM.