You’re not the boss of me!
…..but I am, though.
Let me back up a little bit.
My children are homeschooled. There are many things that people say to me when they discover that I educate my children at home. I am often asked questions like, “How do they get socialization?” (Meaning…”Are you making your children into creepy little socially awkward weirdos?”) “Do you really teach them everything?” “Are you going to keep them home all the way through high school?”
One of my favorite things that people have told me is, “I would never have the patience to homeschool my children.”
Seriously….some days I don’t even have the patience to homeschool my children.
As my 8 year-old son gets older, my husband and I encounter more and more glimpses of his developing character. In our home, math has a tendency to bring out the not-so-pretty parts. This year his math requires thought, organization and attention to details and steps when completing the problems. Additionally, he is learning processes that will become the foundation upon which we will build more advanced skills. He prefers to do all of the math in his head and tends to forgo setting up the problems as instructed.
On one particularly difficult day, there was yelling, tears, and ultimately refusal to do any math. Why? I am glad you asked. When I instructed him to set up his problems as the lesson taught, he got very angry because he wanted to do it his way…in his head. Sometimes his mental calculations are off even though he can usually compute like nobody’s business. I attribute this to distractions that come up while he his working in his room such as discovering a new Pokemon card or stopping to rock out to Lizzo and Beyonce songs in the middle of a multiplication problem and writing down the wrong answer. I explained to him my need to validate his understanding of the process–and I cannot do this if there is only an answer written on the page. He explained that that my way-the Saxon math way-required more time than he was willing to give, and it inhibited him from doing the other “stuff” he had scheduled for himself (e.g. LEGOS and Pokemon).
Cue tears, snot bubbles and flailing.
We took the time to talk about the situation and I finally reached the heart of the matter. He explained his desire do it his way and that he does NOT like it when I correct him and tell him what to do in math.
Translation: You’re not the boss of me.
I did not see that one coming.
Once he articulated how he felt, we did not have an easy conversation. It has actually become a series of conversations, often precipitated by math lessons. We discussed themes in Proverbs surrounding correction, wisdom, and accepting instruction. He really wants to do math (and life) his way. He does not like being told that he is wrong. We talked about how guidelines are necessary for him as he develops his skills…in each area of his life there will inevitably be times where he will be told that his way is not the right way, while other guidelines are provided.
Have you ever tried explaining to a really precocious, strong-willed elementary-schooler that sometimes they are wrong? I salute you….it’s hard out here for a parent.
I led with my experience in homeschooling because in our home my children are often with me throughout the course of the day. As such, our sinful hearts are constantly on display. Our sin nature is like the huge elephant dancing around my living room each day. The issue of sin is not unique to our family. However, being together all day often brings some of our glaring heart issues front and center, to the point where we often need to stop and deal with them before they inhibit us from dwelling together in peace for several hours. During our days, we spend time cultivating our hearts and academic abilities.
So, is math the problem? No. We are actually making headway with this subject. The problem was exposed through math–not wanting to be wrong and consequently not wanting to be challenged in the area of obedience. I am teaching my son that guidelines and boundaries can be good things, and that correction can actually be a blessing.
Hopefully this lesson will bring both of our hearts closer to God.