Breaking for Wisdom (Not Just the Beach)

This week in our school district, it's spring break. If you watch the news then you might have heard that the college kids take their dorm brothels South during this time, outdoing even their on-campus shenanigans (impossible though that that may seem).

For families things are not so obviously degenerate.

Many families in our community head to Gulf Shores in Alabama while I sit on the sidelines alternately making up philosophies worthy of Wendell Berry about the evils of the modern American vacation and being jealous. I like the beach too, even if it is crowded with minivans. 

We homeschool, so spring break, or any break really, is not so easily defined for us. This is a blessing and a curse. When a traditional break rolls around we look at each other and sigh. We have already missed so many days dealing with that thing called life we have to skip the scheduled break. 

What is wrong with us? Why can’t we keep a normal schedule?

Recently we missed a few days when my elderly parents made a rare visit to watch the boys play baseball. In the middle of the day when Grandpa said, “Who wants to play Rook?”  I said, “Let’s!”   

We did try to do school the first couple days of the visit but I quickly realized that our days of having Granny and Grandpa around are numbered and all the wisdom they have stored in their hearts and minds doesn’t come out according to a schedule. We needed to spend our time with them, all of our time, while we had the chance. So we put away Shakespeare, Homer, algorithms, and written narrations so we could spend a few days at the feet of those who have walked the path ahead of us. 

We even got to hear the history of my dad’s barbers, starting with his first boyhood barber and ending with the infamous Shirley. That might not seem like a subject worthy of a break from Geometry but you would be surprised how much wisdom one can glean from a man and his barbers. Granny shared her stories too. We learned that life can be heartbreaking when your parent is an alcoholic. The best part, though, was that both of my parents are continually willing to share their walk with Christ with the children. You could call that Bible class but it would be a ridiculously inadequate title. 

Finally, the boys learned a few hard things about getting older, like sometimes when you fall you can’t get up by yourself and the best way to handle embarrassment is with a smile and a grateful heart. Those were good lessons for the boys but they were really good lessons for me. I was reminded that I am not so far behind my parents in this life. Grace and graciousness are the things I need to be stockpiling for the future. These things are far more secure than an IRA.

I couldn’t help think that if the boys were in a regular school none of this would have happened. We would have kept the universal American schedule.  You know, the schedule that says go to Gulf Shores in high school and Panama City in college.