This week I put Grayson, 15, on a plane to New Mexico. I had a lump in my throat and a tear in my eye as he waved goodbye and boarded the plane. I knew he was headed for an adventure that he has longed for, but I wasn’t quite ready for him to go.
Did I prepare him for this trip? Did he pack his underwear? Does he have enough warm clothes? Is he going to be polite and helpful to his hosts? Those are the questions I asked myself as I walked away. What I didn’t ask myself was, did he finish his algebra? Can he spell Albuquerque? or Does he know the scientific name of the elk he is hunting?
When you mix parenting and homeschooling, we can sometimes lose sight of the real purpose of our journey. It is to nurture their hearts, train their character and provide them with the skills to make good choices in the world. We can’t predict or control the outcome of our children with the curriculum we choose or how many math facts we drill into them. We can prepare them with a good foundation by the relationships we build.
So what is Grayson doing in New Mexico? He is elk hunting with a relative. How awesome is that? If you have been with us for very long you know Grayson declared he was going to be a professional outdoorsman when he was five and has been pursuing this passion ever since.
Guess what? He forgot his jammies, most of his pants, and his pricey hiking underwear even though I asked him 20 times if they were packed in his suitcase. He will survive. He might get a little chafed but will learn and maybe next time remember. However, he has been calling each day to share his wonder and excitement with us because he wants us to experience it with him.
Curtis and I didn’t really take the cute little guy at his word all those years ago until he shared his “lifelong” dream with us at age nine. His dream was to learn how to tan a deer hide the Native American way. I knew that wasn’t going to happen at our house and I surely didn’t see it in any of the curricula we were using. Then a funny thing happened, a new neighbor showed up, literally showed up in our backyard and is an avid outdoorsman. In time, our neighbor made Grayson’s dream come true.
Curtis and I realized there was a higher power involved in this outdoorsman thing and we decided to go all in and nurture this passion with him. When we did, Grayson began to have incredible opportunities to learn and grow. Not from us, but from other people brought into his life.
Parenting is a tough gig. It doesn’t get easier, it just changes and as they get into their teens fear can set in for parents. Did we do enough? Adding to that being responsible for their education at home and it can tip the scales of stress. It can also be scary when you dive into activities that you are uncomfortable with for the sake of your children. When it is what is right for them, you will learn to step out of your comfort zone and embrace it.
When we let go of our own ideas of what our children “should” do and let God be in control we can’t go wrong. Coming alongside our kids and helping them find what they truly love will give them a greater start in life than any textbook can. Our control of what we thought Grayson should be wasn’t working out. We are definitely out of our comfort zone in many of his activities but WE are learning as parents. Our concepts of happiness are changing and we are learning to love opportunities we could not have considered before.
Parenting with passion in mind for our children actually teaches us to develop passions of our own. What a great way to live life together. Encouraging each other to follow the specific path God has created for each of us. Some of us, like me, don’t even find our passion until later in life, if ever. Wouldn’t it be great if we could go against the current of the world and help our children to find their passion early?