I went to a homeschool convention today. First one I’ve just attended in years. I’ve worked two separate conventions every year I’ve been here, usually as a vendor, but also as a volunteer, helping vendors set up and tear down their booths. This year, because I hadn’t even bothered to volunteer, I actually had to pay to get in. Jes’ like reg’lar folks. I felt so out of place. And while I knew the contents of every table, every rack intimately, it was so wonderful to leisurely browse the booths to see if anybody had anything new. Yes, here and there, but nothing on my agenda or within my limited budget.
But the main reason I went was to see Paul Hastings, the founder of JibeNow, a social networking site for Christian homeschoolers. He’s a comfortable speaker, much younger than I expected, and full of information. I thought it would be good to find out what I’m supposed to be doing.
I’ll need to listen to the tape for that. I only made it to his beginning blogging speech, and the best part of that, for me, was what I saw surrounding it. I came into the room a few minutes early, and found my 17-year old son assisting the sound crew with running specialized cables for Paul’s presentation. He helped bring a podium out of the back storage room and assisted with the computer set-up. Then he found a seat on the center aisle, within spitting distance of the speaker. I was back in the far left corner. How things have changed since I was in high school!! It used to be moms in front and teens as far to the dark recesses as possible. But here I was looking at the back of my son’s head. I wonder if this alone is indicative of the difference between public and homeschooling.
But the shock wasn’t over. The seminar began and Mr. Hastings referred on occasion to his sister and a teen from a prominent local family who were in the audience. Then, as way of illustrating “network presence”, he motioned to my son and said that if you google your own name, say, “Jon Elving”, you should come up with several hits of your own work along with others of the same name. I knew that my son had some great connections in a forward moving group, but he has face recognition among the movers and shakers of his generation! I found out recently that someone he corresponds with regularly is one of the Harris boys (look up “Rebelution” and you’ll meet his older brothers). They don’t even live in our state. And he is just one of the group; they are all high caliber kids.
I realized as I pondered where my son is in life that God moves in completely unpredictable ways. I have struggled for years with misgivings, not about whether homeschooling works, but if I am up to the task. While I still don’t think I am – I see grave failures – I also see successes. But I serve a great God, who has facilitated it all. God has provided opportunities in areas where I was lacking to maximize what we have for good. Our rural community relies on volunteers for its fire protection. Jon became their first cadet when he just plunged into an engine repair a couple years ago and proved himself competent. His propensity for collecting tools meant that he always had the appropriate implement for any job at any time and earned him the nickname, “Go-Go Gadget”. He was sent to EMT school earlier this year, and when he passed, began getting offered other classes to further his education in exchange for running calls.
But now I know that he has more than I ever dreamed of: he has amassed a social network of future businessmen and women who are on the fast track to success. This is something I never could have provided, and did not foresee when he first assembled all the extra computer components in his closet and got it running. I didn’t authorize the internet connection when he patched it through the attic off my home computer, but it sure was a godsend when the home computer completely crashed and he was able to retrieve all of our information from his lair. Now I realize that he has used those spare parts and his extra time wisely to learn computer skills and then explore the Web to find the information he needs to learn more.
Every time I’ve doubted that God is real, he shows Himself in ways I never would’ve expected. This is just the latest in a long string of successes when I’ve thought I failed. I’m realizing that my trust in God’s provision is the most important thing I’ve ever had present in our classroom. I am most proud of my literary accomplishments, but I cannot teach English to save my life. A church friend sent an invititation to join the newly created JibeNow and my son has started his own blog as well as developing a network of “pen pals”. I have never considered myself more than marginally competent in science or computers, but he has excelled in both with only the everyday happenings of our home to teach him.
And like most things, the everyday is where the still small voice of God is heard. All it took was listening and learning alongside him to enable him to get where he needed to go. I don’t like to teach and Jon doesn’t enjoy being taught – but both of us love to learn. I’ve found that both of us listening to the Master is the surest way to a solid education. All the rest is purely academic.