The spring sun is dropping lower in the sky, the sunlight flickering on my table is lightly filtered through the birch tree outside. I can see the jar of fading tulips out the corner of my eye behind my computer, the smell of warm sultana scones is in the air and the children are playing nicely, happily and quietly, all four of them. Together.
I think they must be pleasantly exhausted and relieved. Today has not been a good day.
Traces of the disaster lay on the table and floor. Frustratingly ripped scraps of paper strewn around. Worksheets angrily scribbled over, even the odd pencil thrown across the room, empty iced coffee glasses and bowls of unfinished lunch.
Today was Wednesday. A school free day in France and the day I’ve chosen to make our “English” day. The plan is to work together, reading and writing in different ways for an hour or two every week. The plan is that it’ll be fun, that we can learn new things and talk about things together and keep up with our English at the same time for a few hours before we go out, play or do some other jobs. That’s the plan.
Today the children didn’t feel like it. They couldn’t do it, they didn’t know how, writing is too hard, they would not do it, there was no point. There were tears, arguments, yelling, and criticizing. We had a refreshing break from not doing our work for lunch, and then we got back to working hard at not doing our work again.
Generally there are two responses we get to taking children overseas, even to France. 1. You will have to make sure they keep up with their peers back home. And 2. Wow, they’re so fortunate, they will learn so much. When I have days like today I have both thoughts running through my head. I wonder if it’s necessary, I wonder if it’s worth it, they’ll learn it eventually anyway, and they’re already learning amazing different things, but what if they get behind? what if it’s too much for them when we do go home? I have to make them learn, isn’t it important? But they hate it. Surely it’s not that big a deal? So why are we going through this?
The truth is, it’s not super important. But it is good for them. And it will benefit them in many ways. Many things are more important than being totally up to date with their English, like learning to try, learning to struggle, learning to be bored, learning to obey, learning to take responsibility, learning to encourage each other, learning to deal with frustration and anger, learning to work, learning to do different things, learning to be patient, learning to value knowledge and learning to love each other. Things that ALL of us learnt a little bit better today.
And we all feel that our terrible day has been a success now that work sheets have been completed and afternoon tea has been eaten. The late afternoon sun provides a beautiful light to play under and ironically I get a chance to relax with writing my blog, as the tulip petals drop to the table. One child voluntarily approaches me and says “You know Mum, I think you’re right, learning to write is good for me, I could do it and I should have done a better job today.” I almost cried.
make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, mutual affection; and to mutual affection, love. For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. (2 Peter 1)