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In the midst of a summer where we are navigating our way through the process of selecting materials to homeschool, where we are discussing how we will structure our days, how we will keep our children challenged, happy, productive, well-educated, how we will manage to not only survive this first year, but in the end all be happy and our children well raised – in the midst of all of this – the fights of the summer, the tattling, the bitterness over sharing couch space or swing-seats and who gets the last stinkin’ pink Gogurt, have escalated nearly as quickly as this feverish July humidity.

Yesterday while out at a favorite ice cream parlor, each child with spoons in their sticky little fists and grins on their faces, Asher called Alex stupid. Out of the blue, for no reason at all, leaving Vinnie and I flabbergasted, disappointed, confused, wondering where he picked that up and why he would say such a thing.

Vinnie and I discussed, as we usually do when we’re puzzled by our offspring’s actions. It’s what you do as a parent. You discuss, you plot, you plan and strategize the best possible way to mold/fix/raise your child.

On the ride home, Asher said them’s when he should have said their (as in, “when will we get to them’s house?”)

Vinnie corrected him, explained how what he said was wrong and what he should have said. I chimed in after, telling Vinnie that I had just been talking with a friend about this and that it’s better to just repeat what the child said back to them, but using the proper word, rather than shaming them for making a mistake.

Vinnie looked at me, maybe raised an eyebrow, and acknowledged me in some sort of Oh okay, Melanie, thanks for the tip, fashion. Which is fine. I don’t really think he did anything wrong. I don’t think any of what we’re doing is really right or wrong, we’re just sort of fumbling along. It’s not like we were natural born parents. We are now, perhaps more clearly than ever, just learning as we go.

As we drove home, I thought of what I want for my children, not just at the end result of homeschooling for a year, but as people.

I want my kids to be compassionate and kind, but not spineless doormats.

I want them to have self control, but to also know that sometimes life is best when you just have fun and don’t take things so seriously.

I want my kids to be humble, but not overly self deprecating.

I want them to be proud, but not boastful.

Basically, I want them to be perfect (and yet understanding and respectful of everyone else who isn’t as perfect as them, of course.)

And it hit me. Just as I am imperfect and in need of grace and gentle guidance, they will be as well. Not because I am going to fail them as a mother, but because they are just as human and susceptible to failings as me.

Parenting is hard.

Parenting is confusing and contradictory and humbling as all get out.

Sometimes, you’re doing everything just as you think you should be, and your kid is still going to call his brother stupid. Just because.

Good news is, God’s grace is still extended to us all. Just because.

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