Home Education Magazine
May-June 2002 - Articles and Columns
Publisher's Note - Helen Hegener
Homeschooling is About Families
As I write this on Easter Sunday morning I'm surrounded by family members. Five-year-old Nicoma and four-year-old Alyssum, visiting from Alaska with our oldest son John and his wife Annette, are helping their aunt Jody with breakfast preparations. Their sleepy parents are gathering and packing things, getting ready to begin the long trip home tomorrow. John's brother Jim calls to let us know he and Mary and their two girls, three-year-old Lilly and two-year-old Jesse, are just leaving from their home 60 miles west of us. I remind him to watch out for deer on the pass. Mark and I drove home over that route last night and two deer jumped across the road right in front of us - sleek and graceful and dangerous.
While the family members here in Washington are gathering for Easter breakfast, our two youngest sons, Michael and Christopher, are in Alaska, and will soon be heading off for another day of snowboarding in the mountains before making their way to their Grandma and Grandpa's house for dinner this evening. We miss them, but we know they're having adventures, developing skills, testing their young wings in a good place. John left them in charge of business in Alaska, and after a week down here he was pleased enough with their handling of affairs there that he stayed to visit for another week.
Alyssum, or Aly for short, is looking out the front window for her cousins' car when she spies the small herd of deer which live in this valley. "Look!" she shrieks, leaping to the top of the sofa, "The deers are back!"
Jody asks if they're whitetails or mulies, and when the girls shrug - they've grown up with giant Alaskan moose, not these smaller critters - Jody explains the difference, what to look for in their horns, their body shape, the tell-tale tail. Our dogs stand sniffing the breeze, content for now to just watch them but ready to take noisy offense if the deer come any closer to our apple trees or the hay barn.
Back in the kitchen again, chopping vegetables and melons for breakfast, the conversation turns to dance. Nikki explains that Jody's friend Kehala had shown her and Aly some positions that ballerinas use, and she stands with her heels together, toes pointed out, her arms in semi-arcs in front of her. Grandpa Mark tries the position. Aly says her cousin William in Alaska showed her how to twirl in a circle and she demonstrates. Grandpa Mark eyes her steps, but wisely decides not to try that one. Aly says she knows a lot about dance now "...because I learned and learned and learned."
Aly arranges Easter cookies on a big blue plate, while Nikki helps me with the orange spice biscuits. Then she checks out the window and sighs for the third or fourth time this morning, "When will they get here?"
Finally the cousins arrive, carrying colorful baskets. Mary brings a coconut-covered bunny-shaped cake, decorated with chocolate eyes and a gumdrop nose and a bright colorful licorice ribbon around its neck. Nikki and Aly grab Jesse and Lilly and show them the tracks the Easter Bunny left: tiny white five-pointed marks trailing in the front door, up the end table, over the lamp, across the back of the sofa, in front of the TV, around the fireplace, down off the rocking chair and back up onto the piano bench, and there - atop the piano - sits a huge basket filled with wonderful goodies. Jewelry, flowers, stuffed lambs, pinwheels, bubble-bottles, balloons - what delighted squeals and laughter as they sort and share the treasures. Daddies John and Jim grab two balsa-wood airplanes and soon the air is filled with loops and dives and "Look outs!"
I watch our kids and grandkids playing together on this Easter morning and smile to myself. It's nice to see them gathered here, smiling and laughing, simply enjoying each other's company. I think about how spending time together as families builds foundations for the future. The little exchanges which might seem to be mere playing around or goofing off are, in actuality, links being forged, threads being woven.
In his keynote address for the New Mexico Family Educators Conference in 1997 Mark noted, "Through the lessons we teach and the lessons we learn, we and our children weave the fabric of our lives. Sharing books, making meals together, through days of being sick, or traveling to visit friends and relatives. Picnics in the summer, building snowmen in the winter, day in and day out our lives wind together, over and under and around each other, creating a beautiful tapestry. Lessons like this can't be replicated in a school setting. These are the lessons our kids can carry with them through their lives, the lessons they can depend on for guidance and pass on to the next generation."
After breakfast the girls run outside with their baskets to find the eggs Jody and Grandpa Mark have hidden around the frog pond. They race through the herb bed, peer into the cattails, study the strawberry patch on the backside of the pond. There's an egg at the base of a rosebush, another tucked into the metal lantern. Someone spies an egg atop a log and tells the others that it's an easy one to find; leave it for little Jesse. Then Lilly spots an egg out on the rock in the middle of the pond - but how to reach that one without falling into the water? "Grandpa! Help!"
Mark holds onto Lilly's hand as she swings out over the water. She lands on the rock, collects her egg, and proudly shows it off. The other girls have stopped to watch, and Nikki says that looks like fun.
"Psst! Here, Mark!" Annette whispers conspiratorially as she tosses him another egg. It's quickly tucked into a crevice on the backside of the rock and when Nikki swings out she's thrilled to find an egg there! Aly's turn; another egg is surreptitiously tossed to Mark and Aly delightedly "discovers" it, and of course then Jesse wants to go too. But she's been watching intently, and she boldly proffers up an egg from her basket as her ticket for admission to the rock. Grandpa Mark smiles at her quick savvy as he swings her across the water.
Small things, but important things. Times to remember down through the years. We're a family building memories together, weaving a beautiful tapestry. And this morning, as Aly observed, we all "learned and learned and learned."
© 2002 Helen Hegener
May-June 2002 - Articles and Columns
HEM General Information
Subscribe to HEM