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  • The Sharp Spot

Answers lie in the gutter balls

I feel like I am caught in a riddle….

What doesn’t look like school but counts as homeschool?

What is fun and engaging, driven by my children and not me but is something where learning is happening?

What is simple but yet fun?

What is something I do not have to prepare but is still organized?

Any guesses?

It’s got my brain stumped.

Until recently.

I find a lot of answers driving in my car. I generally talk to myself or God. Lately, I have been listening more. Lots of quiet in the car when I’m by myself.

So I’ve been trying to come up with an answer to this riddle. And I’ve got an idea. It came to me in the car.

My boys are in a bowling league this year. Brayden is less than enthused about it. He gets a lot of gutter balls and is convinced he is horrible at it.

One time recently, he was warming up and he threw gutter ball after gutter ball. He was frustrated and came back to where I was sitting. He was upset and said he wanted to leave. Right now. He whined and was acting like a two-year-old with his emotions instead of the twelve years that he is. I did my best to remain calm - parents were looking. I simply said I would not be taking him home. I let him know I believed he could do it and all we were here for was fun. He continued to argue, whine, and complain. I told him I was going to go sit somewhere else. He was allowed to have his emotions and feelings, but I did not have to sit and listen to him.

I was not sure this was the right move, but I also could feel my blood pressure rising and I did not want to threaten, punish, bribe or anything else I might do.

So, I just got up and walked away.

I didn’t look back.

I immersed myself in my writing for about 15-20 minutes.

I went back to where I could see him and observed what was happening.

He was calm. He was sitting with his teammate and they were bowling. The scoreboard reflected that Brayden was no longer getting gutter balls - or at least not every time.

He caught my eye and gave me a sheepish kind of smile.

I smiled back and took a seat to watch.

He continued to do pretty good. Lots of spares and 8’s and 9’s. I could tell he was feeling more positive and his demeanor was one of joy.

He came back to me a couple times and I told him he was doing great and I hoped he was proud of himself. We were just there for fun.

In the car on the way home, I started to ask him some questions:

  • What were you thinking in your mind to change it around?

  • How did it feel to stay and not give up?

  • I prodded with comments like “tell me more about that” or “why do you think that is?”

His answers were something like this…

“I knew you weren’t going to let me leave so I just told myself I had to do it. I guess it felt good to not give up. I don’t know how I really did it; I just did.”

I gave him some more ideas and words…

“I see you shifted your mindset into one of determination. It took courage to not give up and go back even though you felt defeated and you didn’t want to. That is a brave thing. This moment needs to translate to other parts of your life. I’m proud of you buddy.”

His response… “Mom, have you been reading your books again?”

He thinks this was not original thought but from my books and audiotapes! I tried to tell him it was all me but in truth I’m sure I only thought of doing this because of all those books I read and listen to. So, he’s partly right.

Either way, my epiphany of an idea and possible answer to my riddle is that I just need to ask questions and encourage my children. That’s it. That’s what homeschool can be.

Whatever they choose to do with their time, I will continue to guide them with questions and encouragement. That’s my job.

It's simple, little planning required on my part.

It’s enough like school: the part of school that is missing because we never had time for reflection. We had to hurry to the next content standard.

It’s driven by them because they can choose to do anything with their time and days. (Except be on their devices for hours on end!)

It’s fun and engaging for me because I am an excellent questioner and feedback giver - my strength.

It’s learning through life. Exactly what I want.

So as I continue to detox myself from school, I am going to try this out. I am simply looking for opportunities to dig into their minds. Help them understand themselves more. It’s going to benefit all of us.

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