Parents, you can not predict the future. You know that, right?

I had one of those time-transcending moments last night in a warehouse in Chicago.

Travel back in time with me for a moment, to 1995. My thee children, then ages 12, 10 and 9 and I have started another typical home school day. Breakfast, a few chores, prayer, then the day’s instructions, which invariably included a few minutes of journaling. Their journals were the one school assignment they had each day where I didn’t have to bust out the green or purple pen to correct mistakes. (I rarely used red. I thought it made my own school papers look like a crime scene, so I used gentler colors to deliver the error news to my kids.) I wanted them to be able to enjoy expressive writing and build fluency. so the journal was the one place where they could simply write.

When I heard the inevitable wail “…but I don’t know what to write!”, from my kids, I started compiling prompts, which I eventually self-published as a help to other home schooling families. (It’s now available here.)

Even with the prompts, even with the freedom from correction, my son Ben used to fight me like a furious wildcat when it came to journaling. “I don’t know what to write”, he’d growl and spit.

At one point, after I told him I just wanted him to simply fill four lines in the journal each morning, he wrote the following:

I don’t know what to write. I don’t know what to write. I don’t know what to write. I don’t know what to write. I don’t know what to write. I don’t know what to write. I don’t know what to write. I don’t know what to write. I don’t know what to write. I don’t know what to write.

Seriously. I had to bite the inside of my cheek to muffle my laughter.   

Fast forward to last night. Ben, graduated with dual degrees in Philosphy and English/Writing, is not only a writer, but has become a publisher. He put together a release party for Volume 2 last night that included readings from 5 or 6 of his contributors (including at least two who teach at the college level in the Chicago area), a band, free beer from a local craft brewer, and beautiful vanilla/vanilla cupcakes scratch-baked by his equally-gifted wife. About fifty people showed up on a Saturday night to listen, to network, to drink beer and eat cupcakes, and to celebrate Ben’s vision.

I have had those unexpected moments of discovery with all three of my children. The same focused persistence on a goal that we saw in Rachel during a decade of piano lessons has shone in her adulthood as she’s faced life challenges few of her peers can imagine and pursued vocational training and a long-cherished goal of a college degree. Jacob, a daydreamer, spent most of his U-8 soccer career picking dandelions during his games. We didn’t realize that he was drinking in every.single.detail. in the world around him until he focused on pursuing a career in art. (Jacob’s illustration is featured in Ben’s publications, which is another sweet unexpected gift.)

I could not have imagined any of these things back in 1995. There’s a lesson in that.

As I pray for my children and grandchildren, I hope I’ve been schooled well in what God has been patiently teaching me (sans red pen) – the truth that what is happening on the surface of things is not always a reliable indicator of the story being created in a life.

 

Anobium v.1 and v.2 for sale

 

Sarah and Ben, enjoying some Half Acre Beer in red Solo cups

 

The owner of the venue had quite an interesting vinyl collection in the front office area.

 

Master of Ceremonies

 

 

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9 thoughts on “Parents, you can not predict the future. You know that, right?”

  1. How awesome!! Truly a proud mom moment and an even prouder God moment! I know you both are thrilled!
    Teri

  2. If someone would have told me 5 years ago that my son would be wearing button-down shirt, vest and good shoes to a B-ball game (he’s a coach)..or that my map-phobic daughter would spend 2 months in NYC working for a big costume shop and them move to Oregon (!) and drive out there in our truck, I would have told that someone they were crazy. Not without serious concerns that I must leave in God’s hands, my children are growing into being incredible people with far more courage and vision than I had twice their age. And that is pure grace.

  3. And I forgot the bit about our daughter became quite able on the NYC system! Boo-yah! more grace.

  4. “Not without serious concerns that I must leave in God’s hands, my children are growing into being incredible people with far more courage and vision than I had twice their age. And that is pure grace.”

    Love that thought. And might I add, recognizing the courage required by your kids to take these steps is also grace.

  5. Michelle, would you home-school me?!! I liked hearing how you built disciplines with flexibility and gentle colors. I have read in lists of writing exercises that starting out with “I don’t know what to write …” is exactly what you should write if that’s what you’re feeling. Anyway, you can be justly proud of your children’s accomplishments. You make a good point about futility of predictions. My nieces and nephews have made their own marks on the world, some in surprising ways, too.

  6. Ha ha! I doubt words like “flexibility” or “gentle” (except in terms of pen choice) would be on my kids’ home school descriptor list.

    I’ve heard it said to simply write phrases like “I don’t know what to write” can prime the pump when freewriting. I don’t think that Ben was in the pump-priming mode as much as he was in the protesting mode. 🙂

  7. Wiser words have never been spoken. My oldest son after fits and starts is finally going to graduate from college this May at the age of 25. He has applied to several graduate schools in Engineering, including MIT. This is not something we would have predicted 3 years ago when he flunked out of Purdue for the second time and got married as a “fallback” position.

    Fortunately I have learned my lesson and will be taking a gentler approach with my two younger sons who are finding their paths through high school.

    Thank you for your continued words or wisdom.

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