Your Adventure Begins!
The good news is there has been many homeschool adventurers before you and many more that will come after.
The bad news is not all of us begin our homeschool journey with a sure footing, setting out confidently to see where the path will take us. Lucky are those whose homeschooling journey begins with a gentle knock at the door. The rest of us? More of a rough start. Some home educators undoubtedly will feel they were kidnapped, homeschooling vigilantly against their will. Or perhaps there was a miscommunication and you ended up coming along for a ride that took a sudden detour. Embarking on this epic adventure, we have no choice but to do our part to save the world…one child at a time. Sure. You can fight it as hard as you want but in the end who can resist the call to homeschool? Certainly not you.
No matter how many questions you ask, at some point you must do the hardest thing. Decide to step out your front door and see where the path takes you. Pack your bags. You are going on an adventure! Isn’t that exciting? Sign this contract and never mind the fine print and the bit about the dragon. I’m sure it will all work out.
“We are plain quiet folk and have no use for adventures. Nasty disturbing uncomfortable things! Make you late for dinner! I can’t think what anybody sees in them.”Bilbo Baggins, The Hobbit, or There and Back Again
by J.R.R. Tolkien
Every journey begins with good intentions. This is pretty straightforward. We are going to hike in this general direction until we find the elves. What could go wrong? We think we have packed everything and ready to set out. Only to find out there are no plans for second breakfast. And that Strider dude is all business. No stopping until night fall? Sooner or later we start to wonder where was all the fun we were promised. Life starts to look a little grim when doubt starts to settle in.
“I can read more in your face and in the thought behind your questions. You are leaving the Shire, and yet you doubt that you will find what you seek, or accomplish what you intend, or that you will ever return.
Is not that so?…The wide world is all about you: you can fence yourselves in, but you cannot ever fence it out.”Gildor Inglorion, The Fellowship of the Ring by J.R.R. Tolkien
Gildor doesn’t sugar coat anything. The world around is going to change. It was changing before you ever noticed and will continued to do so long after you are gone. Frodo recognizes while that was true his own experience in the Shire “has always seemed so safe and familiar. What can I do now? My plan was to leave the Shire secretly, and make my way to Rivendell; but now my footsteps are dogged, before ever I get to Buckland.” What Gildor says next rings true for all adventurers who dare to continue their journey.
“‘I think you should still follow that plan,’ said Gildor.Gildor Inglorion, The Fellowship of the Ring by J.R.R. Tolkien
‘I do not think the Road will prove too hard for your courage.'”
Making a Perfect Plan…Again
Once you realize what the journey is going to really look like for you now, you make a second plan. And you know what? Sometimes you have to reevaluate and make a third or fourth plan, because…plot twists! To make a much better plan you of course need your fellow travelers to get on the same page as you. Tada! Here is this new course of action, isn’t it great? They of course do not think it is great at all. Not one bit.
In the Fellowship of the Ring Gandalf makes a passionate argument for a ridiculously dangerous plan to the Council. To destroy the Ring they would simply walk into Mordor. No one would expect it. It would be incomprehensible to their enemy and would appear foolish, because who could resist the lure of the Ring? Who would dare come to Mordor?
“Despair, or folly?’ said Gandalf. ‘It is not despair, for despair is only for those who see the end beyond all doubt. We do not. It is wisdom to recognize necessity, when all other courses have been weighed, though as folly it may appear to those who cling to false hope.”Gandalf, The Fellowship of the Ring by J.R.R. Tolkien
Gandalf says out loud what everyone is thinking, have we lost hope or are we simply foolish for following this crazy new plan? Bottom line: It is not foolish if you believe it is the best course for your family-I mean fellowship-at this time. At some point in your journey you will appear foolish to your friends and family members. Resisting the popular comfortable choice in lieu of an uncertain alternative will sometimes make you unpopular. Some will try to point out the chinks in your plan. You might face a powerful temptation to give in. Your journey is your own. In a world where it is natural to seek validations from those closest to us, you have to look in your own heart to decide if the journey is still worth taking.
“This quest may be attempted by the weak with as much hope as the strong. Yet such is oft the course of deeds that move the wheels of the world: small hands do them because they must, while the eyes of the great are elsewhere.”Elrond, The Fellowship of the Ring by J.R.R. Tolkien
Things WILL go wrong
You can count on it.
You want to take a stroll in the park or meetup with other homeschoolers, and then your child has a meltdown. Your kids are sick the day of the fieldtrip and it is nonrefundable. You drive an hour away to a museum and find out the section you came for is closed for repairs. That curriculum you spent hundreds of dollars on? Your kids hate it. Yes! Keep those plot twists coming!
And you know what? It is going to be okay. The crap that is happening right now will pass. You do not need to have perfect control over every moment to make your homeschool a success. Tomorrow is a new day to start again.
But, Why Does it Have to be ME?
There will come a moment when we are too tired to homeschool. We wish the good idea fairy had found a different partner in crime. There are going to be plenty of times where you will feel the weight of homeschooling.
You will feel lost. You will feel the same as Frodo Baggins, trapped in the dwarf caves, feeling the weight of the ring he is carrying. The ring is hurting him. He doesn’t think he can take anymore when he says, “I wish the Ring had never come to me. I wish none of this had happened.” What was I thinking? Why did I ever agree to this?
Gandalf is tired. He has experienced as much and even more than Frodo can understand. Compared to what is coming, what Frodo is experiencing right now is nothing. But he doesn’t whine or snap at Frodo. He doesn’t tell him to deal with it. He doesn’t use his vast experience to mock him. More importantly he doesn’t dismiss or make light of Frodo’s burden. Instead he tells Frodo, yes. This sucks, but here is what you need to focus on; “So do all who live to see such times…All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given to us.” Likewise if things are not going as planned, if you had a crappy day or week…take a deep breath and refocus. What really matters is what you are able to do next.
The Power of Small Things
While you are on your journey, keep in mind the power of small everyday moments. In the Lord of the Rings, evil was able to win by small hidden things until it amassed great power. Who we are is revealed in these small everyday moments in the way we treat each other. How we support each other on this journey matters.
“Some believe it is only great power that can hold evil in check,
but that is not what I have found. It is the small everyday deeds of ordinary folk that keep the darkness at bay.
Small acts of kindness and love.”Gandalf, The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey
A Hero’s Reward
I like to believe a good story is where the hero doesn’t need recognition. Their deeds speak for themselves. Even if at some point people forget the hero’s contributions, it did not make it any less worth doing. I am pretty sure you didn’t go on this sensational journey for the accolades and the promise of free beer at the local tavern. Sure you will have a tale to tell a fellow adventurer but even the best stories fade with time. Still. No matter how long you are on your homeschool journey, every moment and effort counted. At the end of the day, the hero’s reward is the simple satisfaction of a job well done and the knowledge that you made a difference.
Until your journey reaches the end, I hope you enjoy your homeschool adventure and all the plot twists that come with it!
Can you think of any more inspirational quotes that I might have missed?
If you enjoyed this take on The Lord of the Rings as Your Homeschool Journey do me a favor and share with someone you think will get a kick out of it.