What’s Possible on a Tuesday Night and a Wednesday Afternoon

Tuesdays are gymnastics night.

#1 son gets home around 7:30pm, his boundless energy spent after 2 hours of intense physical training. So we had a dilemma when we realized we needed to increase the academic training time for Chinese. We had been making an effort to do this most evenings but thought gym nights might have to be excluded. It was not pleasant most nights– our  parental efforts being  met with much complaining…but when I came out of the kitchen after washing up the dinner dishes one Tuesday night, this is the scene that greeted me: 

With the carrot of iphone game playing time dangling in front of him, tired #1 son set himself to the task at hand. “This is possible,” I thought to myself. While he need an extra incentive to get going, this became a night of possiblities in my mind. Now gym nights are also Chinese nights and no one is the worse for it.

So there are Tuesday and Thursday nights where many things seem impossible because of the late gymnastics classes…and then there are Wednesday afternoons where many things seem possible but rarely materialize.

On Wednesdays, there are no regular appointments or classes. There is no need for me to prepare dinner (we go to my in-laws’ for dinner every Wednesday evening). According to my master plan, we should have free time to go for walks or do projects or play games. It almost never happens. Schoolwork doesn’t get done in the morning and drags on until dinner time. When schoolwork drags, I drag my self though the afternoon ‘should’-ing on myself for not being more strict and resentful that I’m not getting a break. Tempers flare in our tiredness, #2 son retreats to his room to read, and #1 resists all my efforts to get him through his schoolwork. I hate it when this happens and I always tell myself there must be a better way….

Then one Wednesday, we all got up earlier, all the schoolwork was done before lunch and this is what we did while little sister took her afternoon nap:

It is possible and now that I know this, now that we’ve done it once, I pray next homeschool year we will see more afternoons of games, walks, talks or just peaceful rest. It is easy to lose sight of what is really important when the pressures of keeping up with the local curriculum loom over our heads. It is easy to swing to the other extreme and be complacent about the discipline that is good for all of us.  So, we find ourselves again teetering on a see-saw of priorities, praying we’ll get the right balance to fulfill that command to “Train up our children in the way they should go.” (Proverbs 22:6)


The D Word

The word keeps appearing on pages I read about parenting, in my mind when I think about writing, as a shadow across the pages of my to-do lists, over and under my attempts at prayer: Discipline.

Training children takes discipline. All day. Every day.

(My bones are tired just writing those words.)

Writing is a discipline.

I know–people have been telling me this for years.

Getting up early to commune with God when it’s quiet is a discipline.

Yes. And I love it but don’t do it often enough.

Even the educator Charlotte Mason said it: “Education is an atmosphere, a discipline, a life.”

Discipline always seems to be an area where I fall short. I guess I need more, er, discipline…See?! There’s that word again. The long and short of it is this: If I want my life to amount to anything, I need some measure of discipline. So today I post this and today I pray–

Lord, teach me the secrets of a disciplined life in You. Not a life lived by the letter of the law but by the spirit. Let this disciplined life be immersed in grace and let me discipline myself to keep my eyes fixed on YOU.