I happened to catch a few moments of Dr. Ray on Relevant Radio one day last week when a new homeschooling mom was wondering what she should do about her daughter who never seemed to want to complete the work that was given to her. The mom said that she would tell the girl, who is 8, what to do and then would have to leave the room for a bit, but when she would come back, the girl would be off building a tower for her brother or doing something else other than her work. Boy, doesn't that sound familiar. Of course, Dr. Ray made it all sound so simple. Just explain to her that she needs to complete the work that you give her and if she does not, she will not be allowed to do anything else until the work is done. He went on to talk about his wife who has successfully homeschooled ten kids and has used this method with great success. There would be times when the guilty child might have to take his school work out to dinner and work while the family dined, or to a party and finish the work while all the other kids played. Well, I realized, this is probably why he is a famous radio Dr. and I am not. He made it all sound so simple, but what he is not adding into the equation is the ability to actually remember which kids haven't done their work, or even what their work is, or the ability to remember what their punishment was going to be; you get the idea! How many times have I realized an hour later that the child sitting so nicely on the floor playing with their paper dolls is the one who was told to finish their math now, or else. I know the kids realize that I don't remember much of what I say and take advantage of that! How dare they take advantage of my failing memory, my over-taxed brain, and my inability to keep track of everything that is going on!
Accountability is such an important thing for children to learn, because if they can't be accountable to their parents, how will they ever feel accountable to God? What is a tired mother with a half-fried brain to do? There have been times when I have resorted to sticky notes on the kitchen cabinets so that I could remember what I told to who (or is it whom?). I have noticed that the less I am trying to run in five different directions, the better I am able to keep track of everyone and what it is they are supposed to be doing. Of course, I also noticed that the more I have been praying, the better my memory seems to be. In those kind of ideal circumstances, it might only take me 20 minutes to realize that the offending child is not where he/she is supposed to be!
Through much discernment time at my silent retreat this past summer, I realized that I do have to step back, pull out and slow down in a lot of ways because I only have a short period of time to teach my children so many important things. It is so much easier to let the many infractions of the day pass by because I am too busy or too tired to deal with them. It is after hering a conversation like the one on the radio that I realize that accountability to a higher authority (in this case me, or my husband) has to take a high priority in our daily learning. So even if I am tired or stressed, I have to remember to take those few precious moments and follow up on whatever it is someone is trying to get out of! Because if I don't, am I really being accountable to my higher authority?