We started school about a month ago, but just finished our second week of main lessons. The novelty has worn off, but our new rhythm has not yet taken hold. It seems like everyday is a struggle with one of the boys. Last Tuesday it was Vincent’s turn to recite the standard litany: “This is boring.” “I’m too tired.” “Do we have to?” I had a one-day reprieve, and then on Thursday it was Jude’s turn. He absolutely refused to write three words. Three words! We are at the place – that no man’s land between novelty and rhythm – I ruefully refer to as “the slog.”
I apologize for the dramatics, however all doubts, all questioning, all second guessing is heightened here in the slog. Those detailed plans I worked on this summer seem fragile and uncertain. Did I plan too much? Did I not plan enough? Is he bored? Do we need more review? More than complain, I want to simply acknowledge that this wasteland exists. I hope this blog can be a place of balanced expectations. Yes, there is the effervescence of planning. Yes, there is the comfort of an established rhythm. However, allow me to interject a bit of reality and say that getting from one to the other is usually not fun. It is not fun. It is not easy. And some days it is not pretty.
These are the days I rely heavily on my inner work practices, because once those doubts, questions and second-guesses start flooding my head, it is so easy to turn outward to try to find the answers. If I had just chosen a different curriculum . . . If I had just done what she did . . . I knew I should have . . . well, fill in the blank. I know myself well enough to know that during times such as these I need to get quiet, focus my attention and remember the bigger picture. I need to remember that beginnings are always fraught – they are never smooth, seamless nor simple. I also need to remember that we have been here before, and that the slog does eventually pass.
These days, if we go on our walk, go through the motions of circle time, say our poems and muddle through both main lessons, I consider the day a resounding success. Details like morning chores, formal poetic recitation, and engaging dialogue focused around the stories and myths are things that will be picked up along the way. I’m trying to focus on the forest and not the trees. For the most part, our days are good – it is not all-out mutiny here. I’m drawing on that core confidence, that deep place of knowing that despite appearances and any evidence to the contrary, we are moving in the right direction. We are on the correct path. So we will start again on Monday with form drawing. I hope it goes better than last week’s session did, but even if it doesn’t, that’s ok. We will move on and try again the Monday after. Someday soon, maybe in a few weeks, it will seem like second nature. Monday means form drawing. There will be a comfort in that certainty and predictability. Until then, however, we slog on.