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"School Is A Car With No Engine"

     I've come to understand that motherhood is one of the hardest journeys I have ever traveled.  As a runner, I’m convinced that running a marathon has nothing on the marathons we moms run daily to help love and support our children while trying to secure the foundations of their lives with both spiritual and practical truths. 

     Many days, I cry out, "Where's the Manual?"  The answer is always the same - God's Word!

     One of the biggest challenge areas in my mothering experience has been knowing what to do and when to do it for my son's education.  It has been a faith walk all along the way.  My son was born practically with a wrench in his hand.  He learned how to grip his Playskool screwdriver about the same time as he figured out how to hold his bottle.  Sure, his father encouraged Jayson to work on things by providing "the tools" literally, but the reality is that Jayson was mechanically inclined from the beginning.  

     In fact, when it came to potty training, I figured out real quick that somehow I needed to make a connection with him.  I needed to create an understanding with him that diapers were out and Big Pants were in.  God was amazing in giving me the idea to have Jayson (at 2-1/2 years old) help break down his changing table and pack it away.  I still remember the day we worked on that together.  Piece by piece the dark wood sides, shelves and white plastic mat were laid to rest (hardware in tow) as we embarked on a new journey together . . . to the Land of Dry Pants!  It was a thrilling moment.  With screwdrivers in hand, Jayson and I both knew that it was finished.  He never had an accident after that.  The connection had been made.

Seeing Things From a Different Perspective

     So what does this have to do with school?  EVERYTHING!  The theory of convergence, which many of us adopt perhaps without realizing it, teaches us that there is only one way to see things.  But, Jayson sees things in a different way and so do many other kids.  While there is a need for systems and order, there is also a need to stand on “Boo Radley’s porch” and see things from a different perspective (for those of you have had the pleasure of reading To Kill a Mockingbird).

     I remember my professor in college used to say, "Now you must remember one thing as a teacher and really just as a person in life . . . you're way is not THE way . . . it is merely A way."  I remember sitting in my seat in that large auditorium-like classroom when he said that thinking, "Well, he obviously doesn't know how well-thought out and efficient I am."  Ugh!  The arrogance - I'm ashamed to admit - is too much for me to bear now.  But isn't God good that he brought this precious son in my life to teach me just that?  There really is more than one way to do things and the only commonality that all these ways should have is that they are done God’s Way!!!

God Has a Plan

     God had a plan for Jayson's life from the very  beginning. (Jeremiah 29:11a)  Even before his birth, God knew this boy.  I find it so amazing and thrilling that before I even knew Jayson, my Father in Heaven already had an intimate relationship with him and an investment in his life.  God has given me the mercy and the grace to pray through each and every year of Jayson's life - guiding his footsteps  with God as the Hand and I merely the tool!

     Jayson's struggle in school is not because he doesn't want to succeed.  He very much wants to succeed.  Who doesn't like receiving "attaboys" and "way to go's"?  No, from the beginning, Jayson's struggle has been, "I'd rather be outside, building and exploring and getting hands-on experience.  Why am I in here trying to decode these words?" Everyday he would give me the gift of rocks from the school playground.  Each day it was a new rock, specially picked out by him.  He could tell me why he picked out that rock and why it was special.  One day he was really excited because he had found a squirrel bone!  It may not seem like that is something I would get excited about receiving, - but  I still have it to this day.  I boiled that bone and prayed over it, hoping that all the germs and heebie jeebies would be taken off it - then sealed it up in a Ziploc bag as a reminder to me that God has a plan for this young man!  And to remind me how we see things differently . . . I would've picked flowers for my mom, but his gifts were equally as precious!

     So here we are finishing up middle school with the same predicament on our hands as from the beginning.  The classroom is usually a place of sitting, taking notes and regurgitating the information back out a few weeks later for a grade.  Again, as an educator, I know that there are terrific teachers who do lots of interaction, who give project choices and who allow the kids to get up and move around when needed.

     I agree that there are so many amazing teachers who care about the students and truly desire to help make school as palatable as possible for those that have little to no interest.  But, here are some very real facts:  There are a minimum of 13 years your child will be in school.  If we just look at the core classes alone, being Math, English, History and Science, your student will have 52 core classes in his school career to endure (if school is a struggle).  That may not seem like a big deal to us (as we may not have struggled in school or figure it's just a part of life so deal with it), but for a kid that learns best by being hands-on, well, my son said it best in last night's homework assignment on metaphors, "School is like a car with no engine."

     Nothing has spoken louder to me over the years than that one sentence from last night.  I know his love and passion for cars.  I've watched this boy work on cars for years now and see the pleasure it brings him . . . Go-karts, motorbikes . . . if it has an engine to work on and will go faster after tweaking it, you better believe my son is right there with tool in hand ready for operation.  That is why it killed my heart when I saw on paper just how empty school is for him.  Like a car with no engine.

Hope for the Future

     So what to do and where to go from here?  Well, with such a heavy heart, you can imagine that I was up most of the night praying.  I have hope because God has walked this walk with our family all along the way, and He will walk it with your family, too.  I cannot encourage you enough to create opportunities and model for your child the absolute need for us to have relationship with God.  

     Jayson has been able to endure some very difficult things in his life because at the end of the day he knew there is a God who cares.  My son is strong of heart.  That will serve him in life.  Also, Jayson will be in high school next year so that means more options in his elective areas.  He chose Power and Transportation, Electronics and other areas of interest to help him survive the subjects that are tougher for him.  Finally, we've taken Jayson to schools in our area as well as neighboring states that have amazing mechanical, hands-on opportunities if that is the route Jayson still chooses closer to graduation.  This gave him hope that all his school studies will pay off as he gets closer to the goal and schooling of his choice.  (In fact, we keep the school brochure near his bed so that he can thumb through it from time to time when he needs a bit of encouragement.)  

Hope for Your Child

     Hope means everything.  God's Word says that "Hope deferred makes a heart sick," Proverbs 13:12 (NIV).  That's how important it is!  We have hope because God has a plan!  His plans are to prosper, not to harm (Jeremiah 29:11b)  Guide your child to the Scriptures.  Give him verses of hope and encouragement and try not to be discouraged yourself - especially if school was a breeze for you.  Remember that God created us all very uniquely.  Instead of judging why your child can't change what he's doing, try to find something you can't stand and imagine doing it five days a week for seven hours a day over the next 13 years.  Not only will it change your perspective on the situation, but it may give you more compassion  for the frustration your child may be dealing with.  God is the answer!  Just hold on!

Copyright © 2008-2015 Cindy Aitken

Reader Comments...
2010-07-17 20:46:01
"Dad & I like the article and found list for more."
        - Lois

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