Hard work. We’re none of us strangers to it. It comes with the territory, part of our heritage from Eden. The old adage says it never hurt anyone, but there are more and more evidences of that being something of a misleading theory. The fact is that people die from stress, anxiety, lack of sleep and depression all the time – and a lot of those things are caused by working too hard for too long.
Why do we work so hard? Well, we don’t want to be seen to be lazy. That is certainly my issue. If I work hard, no one will ever call me lazy, and I will always have the moral high ground. Right? Well …
Another reason is that we want to keep up with society’s (and out own) expectations of us. We need to earn X or buy Y. We need to live in this sized house in that neighbourhood. Our kids need to go to a particular school. And so forth.
Or perhaps we have no choice. Our circumstances, partners, employers or life choices might have resulted in a situation where the only possible solution is to work hard. (This is also covered in the Lesson I’m learning about promises).
Proverbs 24:33Yet a little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to sleep:
34So shall thy poverty come as one that travelleth; and thy want as an armed man.
Whatever the case may be, I know that working hard has been the persistent theme of my life. I don’t mind and I’m not complaining. In fact, I like it. I feel righteous and energised when I’m busy, and stressed and confused when I’m not. I like to be doing. I don’t entirely believe this outlook is healthy and I’m working on not passing it on to my daughters. I’d prefer them to have a balanced outlook on life: work is good, but so is rest. In fact, rest is commanded in the Word. I guess God knew I was coming, and knew I’d need a shove in the right direction. (Because it’s all about me, ya know.)
DD#2 has inherited some of my approach. She is no workaholic, but she likes neatness and order, and will jump just as high at a chance to wash dishes or laundry as she will at an opportunity to play or watch TV. We relate. On the other hand, DD#1 is much more about being than doing. She enjoys thinking and dreaming and staring off into space and creating fascinating things. More like her dad in that way. In many ways we are very alike, particularly in how we see the world. In this way, we are not.
The result is that while DD#2 is racing through her work and is nearly halfway through Grade 1, DD#1, three years her sister’s senior, is about halfway through Grade 2. At this rate, by the end of the year, they will be doing the same work.
I don’t know if this is a good thing or not. I do know that if DD#1 was still at a conventional school, she would have a serious problem keeping up. And the thing is not that she is in any way mentally challenged. Quite the contrary, in fact. The thing is that concentrating on the task at hand has never been important to her.
How can I complete a table of numbers from 1 -100 when there are jungle gyms to design and pirate treasures to bury?
Today, when it had taken her 30 minutes to write the numbers from 1-70 into a grid (and she should have gone to 100), we had a Serious Chat. I stopped “education” for the day, and laid out the whole scenario. I admit that I was frustrated, but I took a deep breath, got some coffee and reminded myself that it’s NOT about finishing a worksheet every day. We sat down together and I explained that by not realising the importance of concentrating and finishing the task at hand, and by taking three times longer to finish anything, it would eventually reach the stage where both girls were working together on the same work. And the logical extrapolation is that she’ll finish “school” at age 27! Perhaps I should have kept that tidbit to myself, but I proceeded to explain that I would by no means keep home educating all that time.
The thing is that I know her potential and I want the best for her. The best for her does not include spending eight hours a day trying to keep up with her peers because she refuses to focus. It does not include a sub-standard education because she won’t keep pace. It does not include me not getting any billable work done (and us starving and living on the street) because I spend all day acting as her conscience and External Concentration Device.
Despite my calm tones and good intentions, we ended the morning’s education in tears, and called it a day. Fail. I don’t think it’s right to allow her to miss out on her potential, and I know that I was honest but gentle too. How could I have handled this better?