Several things got finished last week. 90 Minutes in Heaven by Don Piper. Piper is a Baptist minister who was involved in a terrible car accident, where he was declared dead. He had an experience of going to Heaven, but not of going in through the gates, before he was sent back here to finish his life. Like Peter Kreeft (see, I'm in decent company) I think there is more to near death experiences than "random firings of dying neurons". This is also the story of his recovery and his reaching out to others who are in terrible circumstances. Very interesting.
Beautiful Boy by David Sheff. A story of addiction--and what it is like to have a beautiful, talented, smart and funny son throw most of that away for crystal meth and other drugs. Sheff doesn't spare himself much, seeing that his divorce and the long distance joint custody he and his ex-wife arranged may have played into his son's problems. But the most heart wrenching passages are those where he comes to realize, as all of us as parents must realize, that ultimately our children are going to live their own lives, and there is nothing more we can do. For better or worse, their lives are theirs (and God's) and not ours.
Let me tell you, as the mother of a twenty-something, this is difficult, even when the kid is doing the right things. It must be absolutely the hardest lesson to learn when the child is doing the wrong things.
And the best book of last week was a book that I felt like I could have written myself, in large part: Homeschooling: A Family's Journey by Gregory and Martine Millman.
What really resonated with me was their almost reluctant decision to homeschool. Because they had decided to live on one income, they could no longer afford a home in the fancy neighborhoods with the good schools. They sent their girls (they have three girls, then three boys) to the parish Catholic school, only to be disenchanted with the education they were receiving there. It was only after several discussions with the teachers and the administration that they became homeschoolers.
The book is a discussion of their philosophy of homeschooling and why it works. Like us here at CasaS, they found it a fit with their lives as a family. They are not proponents of "school at home", that is, trying to make a home school room function like a classroom. They were "book people", and that mirrored our take on homeschooling.
This is a book I would recommend to people who are just starting out on their homeschooling journey. It will give you confidence that yes, you can do this. That your school doesn't have to look like everyone else's school to be right for you. That those extra-curricular activities you take part in (judo and drum-and-fife core for them, sports and Scouts for us) can be a major part of your learning experience if you have time to really involve yourself in them. That literature and the arts are to be enjoyed and savored--not dissected and examined with a test in mind. And that travel, to anywhere, can be a chance to learn, learn, learn.
If you're homeschooling, or thinking about it, read this book. It made me so homesick for homeschooling, it's not even funny.
On the to read pile: Acedia and Me by Kathleen Norris. And the first of the James Herriot books.
How 'bout you?