I share this story as a reminder to all of us, including me: what we see now is not that all that is, nor is it all that will be. I think we know this, but Today is often discouraging when you are homeschooling. This thing, it went wrong today. Woe is me and all that.
Two years ago, A-Age-Twelve was doing AmblesideOnline Year 5. One of the books assigned for that year is Oliver Twist. It was an absolute joy to read Oliver Twist with my oldest child. This probably set my expectations too high; I was disappointed when she didn’t seem to connect with it.
I am not one to drop books, so we continued, despite the apparent lack of connection. Or perhaps I should say lack of apparent connection? Doesn’t matter — I kept reading and she kept listening and narrating.
She struggled with the book. It was slow going. We were only about two-thirds of the way through by the end of the school year. I asked her if she wanted to continue over the summer, she said no, and that was that.
I tried not to make a big deal out of it. Not all books will get the same responses from all children. It’s okay, I told myself.
But it turns out something was happening. It was just underneath the surface, where I couldn’t see it.
And life is like that sometimes.
I was thinking about this verse last week:
But the Lord said unto Samuel, “Look not on his countenance, or on the height of his stature; because I have refused him: for the Lord seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the Lord looketh on the heart.”
Some use this verse to say that men should never look at the surface — aren’t we just horrible, judging those books by their covers all the time?
But really, that’s not the point. It’s more a statement of reality: man looks at the outward appearance because that is all he can see. It’s not good or bad; it is what it is. We must be humble and realize that we can only see externals. We can know people deeply and see not just their clothes but their actions and words, but still we are only seeing externals. Sure, some of these things are good indicators of internal heart conditions, but the point remains that we don’t really know what is going on inside other people.
Do you see this photo?
I found my copy of Oliver Twist this way yesterday morning, and so I snapped a quick picture.
You know what is significant about this?
I brought this book out of my boxes when I pulled books for Q-Age-Ten to do AO Year 5. A-Age-Twelve quickly cornered me and asked me if she could read it. I said yes, as long as it was done by Christmas. Daughter Q. would need it beginning in Term 2.
She grabbed the book and ran out of the room.
She devoured that book. It only took her about a week to read it. She pestered me with questions about it when she was done. She continues to bring it up, and the book is still out in my living room (see photo) because she is still picking it up and flipping through it to re-read certain parts.
It feels like a tiny miracle.
Here I was, feeling sorry for myself that my ten-year-old didn’t appreciate Dickens. It seems so silly now that she’s grown into a twelve-year-old who volunteers to read it in her spare time.
I didn’t give the relationship any time to germinate; I wasn’t patient enough before making my judgments.
In homeschooling, we’re often initiating relationships. We’re not finalizing them. We don’t get to say what takes and what doesn’t, nor dictate the timeline. We’re growing persons, not programming computers.
I think the important thing to remember is that things are not always what they seem. We can continue to be faithful in spite of our children’s responses. And who knows? In time, we just might be surprised.
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