Trust The Children

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

The Love of A Blacksmith

Holland is my "motherland". That is probably not a real word, but shucks, we are imaginative home schoolers, right? We understand each other. Anyway, my mother's father imigrated from there. A few months ago, I was heading over to Germany for business and went a few days early so I could drive to the Netherlands or Holland. I arrived in Frankfurt and at the airport, went about the business of renting a car, to drive to Holland some hours away. The girl at the desk asked me what car I wanted. I told her what I was doing and where I was going and asked her, "If you were me, which car would you pick?" I ended up with a Nissan SUV, 6 speed, that had GPS in the dash. GPS (Global Positioning System) is a navigation system. I punched in the address of my destination in Holland, and the car began talking to me. Straight here, left here, this onramp, straight ahead for 40 kilometers and the next thing I knew, I was starring at a building that had the exact address I had entered into the GPS 3 1/2 hours before. Amazing. The only way to go in Europe.

As part of the trip, two distant relatives picked me up on Sunday, and showed me around the land of my fathers. It was wonderful and a most enjoyable experience seeing the sites and getting to know them. In the afternoon, we ended up in the countryside, the rural areas around Dordrecht. The name of this area is Dubbledam.. I fell in love with it immediately. Besides being really pretty and tranquil, the name itself represents just how I feel about life from time to time. While there we visited a great aunt who had known Grandpa Evert. It was this Grandpa Evert who was the hinge point between my distant relatives and myself. He had been a farmer. But in the middle 1800's the economics of farming made it so that unless he got more land to work, he couldn't make a living at it. So what to do? Grandpa Evert noticed that there were no blacksmiths in the area, so he decided to become one. As time went by, he became quite successful. His sons joined in, and eventually his grandsons. They built a very large shop on the back of the house, which is still standing today. Great grandsons joined in and the two I was with, though not part of that business today, trace their interest in engineering and making things, to Grandpa Everts choice so many years ago.

So it was a bit shocking actually, when this great aunt told us, that in all the years of his occupation as a blacksmith, he hated it. He persisted, but compared to farming, he hated being a blacksmith. (Hence Dubbledam fit pretty good I thought to myself) We said our good byes and continued the tour of family landmarks, but I sensed that we were all thinking the same thing as we drove away, if he hated it, why did he do it?

Did he persist because he loved his family? Yes. Did he persist because he wanted to provide for them as a father should? Yes of course. Did this change in occupation, impact generations? Yes it has. Generations of influence as a result of love and a sense of responsibility. The love of a blacksmith.

This is a story, that I have shared with our family more than once. There is a message here for parents and children who have chosen home schooling as their educational priority, don't you think? For kids, some of the education at home may be something you do, because you love yourself and want the best for yourself and sometimes the only reason the kids persist, is because they decide to. For parents, home schooling is the gift we give our children, that really only WE can give. it isn't always easy and it isn't always how we would use our time each day, but we do, because we love. We do because we want to preserve something in our children that will bless them for generations. In fact, if we are careful, we can preserve in them their natural curiosity, which is the gift of gifts, the gift of the ages. And so the gift of love ripples outward from this home.

I can't know how the future spouses of our children will feel about educating at home. I hope they can learn to feel positively disposed to the idea. Either way, we will love them just the same. But I have given this some thought. Even if, as our children marry, they choose together a path that doesn't include home schooling in their lives, we still have given something to that family that preserves the ripple effect. We have given that new family a father or a mother, our grown up child, who is different and capable in important ways. We gift that family a child who loves to learn, who feels freedom to confidently but intelligently shun following the crowd, who remembers their own personal trail of learning and will feel less disposed to impose some unnatural learning process on our grandchildren, and more disposed to let the plant grow without always pulling it up to check the roots.

The power and influence of the children we have educated in our home will continue to live and move outward in the lives of generations to come. In this way, our choice to home school, our choice to give the gift of educating at home which can be from time to time a hard gift to give, our choice to persist when persisting is uncomfortable, becomes a choice to develop our love and sense of vision and responsibility. It becomes very much like... the love of a blacksmith.


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