Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Hey! Hey! Hey!

Generally speaking, I like dogs. But I don't like my neighbors' dogs. In fact, sometimes I wish I had a BB gun in order to gently convey to these dogs my feelings about their feelings about my being in my yard. After all, I can't go in my own yard without them hollering at me: Hey! Hey! Hey! Or when I walk in the morning, before most people are awake, the dogs are hollering at me: Hey! Hey! Hey! Whatchadoin'! Hey!

- Hey! yourself, you dirty curs!

I shake my fists.

There are days, when educating my children at home (without a teaching certificate) is rough. It is always an exercise in interruption, patience, and trust. And when I think my child has reached a milestone, the next day she has forgotten it all. It makes me want to rip out my hair in great handfuls, to bang my head against the table. Are they really learning? Does any of it make a difference? I know the answers, of course. But not convincingly. The nice thing about moments of self-doubt is that it allows me to examine what I am doing in order to do the best I possibly can, it allows me to practice letting go of this myth of perfection.

Of course, being a stay-at-home dad is itself an interesting proposition. It's lonely and humbling. But there are brilliant moments, like getting Jack Henry out of the crib and seeing the toothy grin on his face, his joy at seeing my face. Like hearing them laugh. Like listening to their dreams rattled off in half-words and lisps and with stark, real joy. It strikes me sometimes that I am glimpsing the face of God in their unsullied joy and love; and that I am allowed to live.

People tend to vocalize their admiration for what I do, but I think it amounts to nothing more than, "You poor, poor man." And while I love being at home full-time, it is an endless source of struggle for every atom of me. It is learning to live with doubt and failure. It is learning to be small. I always hated that Scripture "Live a quiet life." It whispers against my fantasies, my selfishness, my Mittyishness. And now I've come to realize that it is my salvation: littleness, quietness.

You either die for love, or you just die. It's really quite that simple.


Dan said...

"Mittyishness" is a great neologism. Let's keep it in the lexicon since we've all felt Mittyishness from time to time.

Your last line hits the nail on the head.

Freder1ck said...

teaching certificates are over-rated. At most, they're a helpful introduction to mass production methods of teaching....

alison said...

I feel this post. Been there, am there as winter drags on. Loving my family, day in, day out feels like the most heroic thing I can do.

I love the last two lines too.

Keep dying for love.

kkollwitz said...

Never underestimate the value of living a small life.

truevyne said...

Love your candor. Someone asked me if homeschooling was easy Thursday. Bahaaahaa. What kind of question is that exactly? I replied, "No, nothing about it is easy. Usually nothing worth doing is easy. At this time, it's what my children need."
I love it that you and your sweet wife, who stares down classroom education daily, have kept an open mind on behalf of your kids.

Dan said...

Scott, email me, will you. I need your new address.

your nephew zach l said...

hi. : )

Scott Lyons said...

Hey, Oldest-Male Nephew! How are you and your people doing?