(This is an edited version of my annual Christmas letter to friends and family.)
A few years back, the boys would sing their own versions of familiar songs, with original rhymes. That Christmas, D proclaimed, “We three boys are traveling noise.” How true! And now we have four.
If you don’t have a house full of boys, you don’t know what you’re missing. Try writing a column on silence while your kids throw each other off the couch. Every toy that hasn’t already been destroyed is a weapon. I could have a PhD in dinosaur science. I’m also an expert in football stats. And you already know—at least you tell me often enough—that boys are easier than girls.
I made a decision long ago never to make negative generalizations about men. Jesus was and remains a Man, so any disparagement of men would be a criticism of Him too. Now I remind myself that He started out as a Boy and try to bite my tongue.
Of course, our boys are little angels. And though they began life as Barbarians, I insist they must be civilized before they move out of the house. I hope I don’t live to regret that…
This Fall I created a list of good books for boys aged 10 to 14 to share with my homeschool friends. Hardly anyone makes book lists for them, assuming boys that age don’t read for fun. Ours do. Rambunctious as they are, their love of stories and knowledge has been encouraged by our curriculum. D and M read both fiction and non-fiction regularly. C is still in the phonics reader stage. I expect it to be another year before his reading takes off. Meanwhile, J’s favorite request is, “Read, read, read.”
For years I’ve thought about having a homeschool website. Last month I launched my Contemplative Homeschool blog. It combines my love of education with the Carmelite spirituality I write about for our diocesan newspaper. Dan says the name could be taken as an oxymoron. How do you live a contemplative life with four active boys with you 24/7? It’s a real challenge! Blogging makes me focus more on how we can change our routines and parenting practices to foster a life of prayer. We want our boys to be contemplative too—starting with having lots of time to ponder what they learn.
How much time should they spend with electronic media? That’s a perennial question. This year we began using a typing program with the older two that includes mild video games. D informed us last week that he broke the world record for typing speed. (He was holding down one key.) I limit them to an hour a week each on it. Otherwise, they might “practice” all day. C has taken an interest in electronic chess. I’m waiting another two years before he’s allowed anything beyond that and Oregon Trail.
The real oxymoron, I think, is blogging about contemplation. Adults too can hamper their focus through too much computer and TV. We need that focus in order to pray. But should we leave the New Media to secular babble?
I wish I had time to tell you about all the other highlights of this year: M’s First Communion, History Fest, soccer and swimming. But a toddler is struggling to climb on my lap, making it hard to type.
Wishing you joy in the Boy born at Bethlehem,
8 thoughts on “Christmas greetings from our contemplative homeschool”
When you live in a large household, I think “contemplative” is largely a state of the heart and mind since days full of solitude are non-existent. The best I can hope for in a busy day are tiny pockets of relative quiet. I also take advantage of small blocks of time when I can pay a quick visit to the Blessed Sacrament or attend Adoration.
My husband’s good at watching the boys on Sunday afternoons so I can get to adoration. But there’s not much silence or solitude other than that till after 9 pm. We can still practice interior silence as you say.
I am still giggling at “we three boys are traveling noise.” Oh, don’t I know it. I LOVE the way you write.. thank you for sharing your wisdom and humor!
Connie, I’m just dropping by to let you know I’m presenting you with a ‘Blog of the Year 2012’ Award. Please stop by my December 29 post at The Breadbox Letters (my “connects with the world 🙂 blog) at http://thebreadboxletters.blogspot.com/2012/12/blog-awards.html for details. Thank you for the blessing of your fine blog!
Nancy, I was out of town the last day and a half–thus, my late response. Thanks a bunch!
Connie – Can I see the booklist? I know I have read some “boy” books and am interested to see if they are represented. – – Gina
I hope to post the list to a new download page in the next couple of weeks. It’s not comprehensive, of course, so additions will be very welcome.
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