Friday, August 17, 2012

Reflections on Our Sabbatical Year

What did they learn?
One year ago today, we left our home and headed out on a grand adventure.  (See last year's blog post.)  Our main goal:  to spend more time with our family by traveling the world.  We accomplished that, but still I wanted more.  All year, I was reminded of the great rush of time regardless of my attempt to snatch a quiet year to tell the kids all the things I want for them. I intended to teach the kids more than reading and math, but we got stuck solving for X a lot more than I planned.  Looking back, I'm not sure I conveyed everything to them, so here are the lessons I learned from our year; I hope the kids picked them up through osmosis.

Don't grow up too fast.  Childhood is a precious gift to be vigilantly guarded like the Beefeaters protect the Queen's Jewels.  We only have one childhood and those that rush it tend to return to childish behaviors that were never fully experienced.  Childhood is for pretending you're an adult- trying it on for size. 

"Do I want to be a doctor when I grow up?  I'll cover my dolls in bandaids and stiches to see." 
"Maybe I want to be a Vet.  Where's the dog so I can hear his heart beat?"
"I've got to pay the bills. Where's the checkbook?  Let's see ten dollars for the house, five dollars for the car."

Childhood does not know how much a house costs or how much a job pays.  It's about dirty feet, catching frogs and snuggling with Teddy.  It's about catching a flyball, licking a popsicle and not caring that you're covered in mosquito bites.  It's soaking up information like a sponge and eavesdropping on adult conversations while not understanding a word of what they say.  It's putting your bathing suit on when you wake up and not taking it off until time to put on your pajamas.   Responsibility applies to homework and competition refers to the next baseball game.

Only you can make you happy.  I don't know how to teach this, but I try to show it everyday.

Please be a Sue Heck.  It's cool to be uncool.  Hug your parents in public and tell your brother and sisters that you love them.  Don't worry too much about popularity.  Trust me, you do not want to peak at thirteen.  Hold on to your beliefs and feel confident to speak about them.  Never give up on yourself.  Try new things.  Share your love of God and talk about him openly.  Laugh when something is funny and cry when something is sad.  Look people in the eye when you talk to them. Sing along to your favorite songs.  Don't be afraid to dance in front of others.  (I know this last one will be the hardest.)

Be proud you're an American.  Get choked up when you sing the Star Spangled Banner.  Feel your chest tighten when you say the pledge of alligence.  Love the world, but be proud of who you are and where you come from.   Know the history of your country and share it with others.  Know the presidents' accomplishments and remember they are only human when you study their failures.  Believe that you could be one, too, someday- even in this day and age when it seems that only billionaires and club members may join. 

Don't think you're better than others; just different.  People come in all shapes and sizes, in different colors and with varying beliefs.  If you are confident, you are beautiful.  Be tolerant of others' thoughts and dreams.  Remember that we are all neighbors on the planet Earth and try to love your neighbor.  Follow the Golden Rule and the middle path.  Treat others the way you want to be treated and demand others do the same.  Have compassion for those less fortunate.  Whether someone is having a bad day or a bad year, say something nice and try to leave someone feeling better after you have met than before you arrived.

Great adventures usually start with a UHAUL.
If I could be sure all these lessons were sinking in during our travels, I wouldn't worry about that  Pythagorean theorem stuff a bit.   When I was a child, my mom always said, "These are the best years of your life!"  I would have to argue with her now.  I don't know if this was the best year of our children's lives, but I think Greg and I agree- it was for us.  I thank God we had this year, but don't think the best is over by far.  I look forward to the future.  Life is good.

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