We just came through parent-teacher conference season again, and what we learned in Julianna’s home visit was that although she can read a page that looks like this:
her comprehension is stuck on pages that look like this:
For anything more complicated than Corduroy, I have to sit with her, read with her, and stop her at the end of every page to ask comprehension questions. Which is soul-killing work, I’m telling you. If I harbored any lingering guilt for never feeling the slightest attraction to home schooling (which I don’t), this would have done away with it. This is not my charism.
And yet…after only doing it 3 times—over the course of a week, mind you—her assessment score went up, ummmm, 100 points.
Yesterday I decided to take advantage of the hour we sit at piano lessons to catch Julianna up on her “church school” homework, which has been sitting in a growing pile on the table for weeks. Here’s a small slice:
“Telling our sins to the priest is called…what?”
Julianna: “I don’t know.”
Me: “God is willing to forgive us when we are truly sorry…never, sometimes, or always?”
Me: “Um…Does God forgive us?”
Me: “Um…yes, sweetie, he does.” Pause to regroup.
Me: “When we pray an act of WHAT, we tell God we are sorry for our sins?”
Julianna, pointing triumphantly at the second of three options: “CONFESSION!”
Me: “No, honey. Contrition.”
Clear throat to regroup. Let’s try a different page. Oh, that one has pictures! There’s a lady at the ambo in one picture and a priest with a paten and a chalice in the other. This will be successful.
Me: “What do we call this part of the Mass? The liturgy of the…?”
Me: (befuddled that she even knows that term.)
All this has made me realize two things:
1. I have to sacrifice my time to work more with Julianna. But not just Julianna–the other kids, too. Most of my recent negativity was due to the stress of being overcommitted, but some of it was also because the kids are just ignoring the most basic lessons, spacing them out. Like “take your shoes off and put them int he cubbies when you walk inside.” Or “rinse your breakfast dishes and put them in the dishwasher.” I shouldn’t have to tell every person to do this at every single meal and every single house entrance—but apparently they’ve learned bad habits, and if I expect them to change, I’m going to have to grit my teeth and put some self-sacrifice into it.
2. I have to accept that Julianna’s understanding of the faith is probably going to be even farther behind her age than her reading and math skills…and it’s not the end of the world. Because she participates in the liturgy with gusto, and mystery can do its work even if she never in her life gets the finer points.
I’ve been puzzling for several weeks about what to “do” for Lent. I know I need to take time every day to “be still,” but I’ve also toyed with a Facebook fast and even a writing fast (fleetingly). In writing this post, I realize at last what my “alms” are to be this year: a gift of myself, to my children.