Never Say Never



...okay...truthfully...does anyone not have that Justin Bieber song running through their head after reading that title?

We probably listened to it at least 20 times in a row when my girls first stumbled upon it. It may be a "tween song," but it may or may not have ended up on my running mix and may or may not have encouraged me to pick it up a few times when I got discouraged or wondered what I was doing out there on the trail.

Never say never.

It's a good thought...

Although, as a parody of "The Bieb's" smash hit would say,or sing), once you've sung that song in it's entirety, then...well, you've said the word "never" about 50 times!

I'd like to think that this credo is something that I hold to in my everyday life. However, I know full well that there are plenty of things I've been quick to say "never" about.

- Eating blow-fish, or any kind of fish
- Going on the show Wife Swap
- Touching a snake - or being in a room where a snake is not inside or behind glass on lock down
- Patronizing a strip club or any type of "Thunder from Down Under" extravaganza
- Divorcing my husband (had to throw that in there...as I'm sure he is relieved to read)
- Going back "and doing it all over again" in high school

And really, I racked my brain to come up with this list. I know that there are lines that I've drawn in my mind about moral issues. And there are things I might chalk up to "never," simply because they don't seem attainable in this lifetime. Mostly I feel like I'm open to things and experiences and willing to try pretty much anything.

But there is one that I left off of the list above...

...Never, ever, not ever would I EVER home school my children!

Why so vehement, you ask?

As a public school attender for all of my primary and secondary years, I was proud to say that I "made it through" the bumps and bruises and didn't need to be taken out and "coddled" at home or put into Christian school to "save my soul" or "chastity."

For some reason, I always viewed home school children as deserving my pity for not being able to "hang" with the "normal" kids. Granted, home schooling was a rare occurrence in my world many moons ago in the 80s and 90s, and some of the kids may have been a bit more "different" than myself and my peers.

I guess I really never considered it a truly viable way to be educated -- more of a cop out and less of a bold declaration of out-of-the-boxness.

So, I spouted out my "never" whenever I would talk with friends about the topic and especially when I had children, I many times declared the word in reference to their education.

However, because by then I was an adult and "mature," I added a caveat:

"I will never home school my children -- unless I feel like they are not getting a good education."

Which really didn't mean that much then as we made our home in an "award-winning" school district. One would think that would provide some measure of security.

Darn that caveat.

Because it's thrown me for a full loop this school year as my "excellent student" up through grade 3, has suddenly lost her love of reading and most of her curiosity of "why" about the world in grade 4. Instead, she seems to slog through her days uninterested, unfocused and bored. The sheer quantity of homework she has brought home (some attributed to work load, some attributed to her willingness to get it done in class) has brought us both to tears and utter frustration.

After a long day of school for her and housework and other running around for me, the last thing either of us wants to do at 3:30 is two hours of homework in between me making dinner and her listening to her younger siblings playing Wii and basically being free to do whatever they want.

I've almost pulled my hair out trying to run between burning food on the stove and a math problem that my 38-year-old, college-educated brain cannot seem to comprehend (who does their best thinking at 5:30 anyway?).

Add in little sister in first-grade who started the year with so much gusto and has proceeded to settle into a wheeze. She is my "busy" one -- the left-handed, precocious child who needs to be challenged and have her imagination ignited in order to get her want to engage and learn. Worksheets and writing spelling words over and over will never be easy with her.

I've had enough.

Adding in a few other things (such as discovering all that is being left out of curriculum due to state testing, and the dawning realization that basing funding on test scores is a terrible way to go about things), I began to realize that my caveat was waving the yellow flag.

So, I started checking it out. Home schooling has come a long way since I was a kid. I have several good friends whom I respect who home school their children. So, I started with my friend, Sarah, and tentatively asked a few questions that turned into a lengthy discussion...which turned into a lengthy meeting with her and a few other friends at my house a few weeks later...which turned into several of us attending a home school meeting for a local charter school for home schooling families.

At which a long-time friend who home schools her children, and who had heard me say "never," many times over the years way before either of us were married, saw me there and did a double take saying, "Sarah said Heather was coming, but I knew it couldn't be YOU!"

The meeting was great. It all sounded so good. The logic is there. I am on board with the intent of what home school parents want to do with education. I left that meeting excited about seeing my children engaging and loving learning once again. I vowed that we would produce critically-thinking children and not Scantron bubble-filling drones.

And then reality set in.

Or rather...my insecurities set in.

All the doubts of "can I do this?," and "can I teach two children with two preschool aged children running around?," and "am I qualified enough?," and of course, "will we all drive each other mad and have to put an emergency call into Daddy so he can come home and get the house off of lock down?"

It's unknown.

It's scary.

I think that fear is at the center of every "never" -- whether it be fear of what that something looks like, or fear of where it might take us and who it might cause us to become.

I have pinged and ponged back and forth until I've made myself sick and dizzy with the decision of whether we should take the home school plunge or stick with where we are at public school. I can lay out pros and cons for both. I can fully talk myself into home schooling one day and then talk myself out of it the next.

Last week, I ran into my eldest daughter's favorite teacher, Mrs. E. My daughter was blessed to have this seasoned, caring, Christian teacher for two years (1st and 3rd grade) and adores her completely. I trust her opinion about education.

When I shared with her my thoughts on homeschooling and whether I should do it, she jumped in and said, "Do it! Do it tomorrow!" And then, she proceeded to tell me why (which I won't go into here because that's another post).

I followed up with her today via email and thanked her for her candor and what she shared and then I told her about my insecurities and my wavering about what I should do and what would be best for our children and for our family.

I love what she wrote in return:
"I think of the 'faithful spies,' Joshua and Caleb's, "We are well able to take the land..." If you decide to go for it, God will be with you. If you decide to wait for now, God will not abandon your children. You are in a win-win situation. Both require a great deal of faith, and even home schooling is not the 'salvation' of our children. Take the anxiety off your plate and out of your head and listen to the Educational Coordinator [at the home school charter school]. He/she will help you sort out your concerns and decide. It's an adventure! Your kids will absorb your enthusiasm! 
Happy choosing, and you ARE well able to take the land."
And, you know...Mrs. E. is completely right. There were other 'spies' who went on that same expedition who came back and said, "we will surely never be able to take the land."

What was the difference?

Trust.

Trust that if God is calling me to do this, He will surely equip me to do it. Trust that if I go out to conquer the landscape of my children's education, He will meet me there and guide me. I will not be alone.

Trust.

Because most of the time, we believe God is for us and want to help us "in the land." But oftentimes, we wonder if he is actually watching us take that leap of faith......right.....at.....that.....very.....moment. As if he was "sleeping on the job," or "turned His head for a minute and missed our jump," and then had to hustle to get to us flailing out in the deep.

So, my never has turned into maybe, which turned into probably and is headed towards yes -- even if I'm not ready to take that leap yet.

But I have learned a good lesson about putting limits on myself and ultimately on God. I'm so very grateful that when he looks at me, he doesn't mutter, "never."

Instead he gazes at me and whispers, "forever..."

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