It’s very exciting watching a child who is gripped by a passion. But what about those times when interest in learning seems to disappear?
I like to get up early. I leave my bed while everyone else is sleeping, feel my way out of our darkened bedroom, fall over the three hungry cats gathered hopefully at my door, and head to the kitchen to fill the kettle. Animals fed, a mug of tea in my hand, I settle on the family room sofa to read or pray or just check the mail.
“You seemed a bit out of sorts this week,” I observed. “Not your usual cheery self.”
“I feel like I’m drifting.”
I know how Sophie feels. I’ve been feeling the same way. I move from one unsatisfying thing to the other. I wonder what I’m supposed to be doing. Where’s all my excitement gone?
I could worry about being stuck in this stagnant state, but I’ve come to the conclusion that quiet times are a normal part of life. It’s probably unrealistic to expect to fly through every day in a constant state of excitement. Think how tiring that would be. And maybe important work is going on during these seemingly unproductive times, subconsciously, of course. Who knows what is brewing deep within us while all seems quiet on the surface?
I have noticed that quiet times never last forever. One day I wake up and instantly know things have changed. A wonderful new idea will be floating through my mind. I feel full of energy. Before I know it, I’ll be chasing knowledge, working on a new project, feeling excited about life once more.
“I can’t think of anything I really want to do.”
I could have said, “There’s plenty of interesting things you could be doing. Choose something! Don’t waste your time.” But is that necessary? I think Sophie will find her own way to her next interesting thing without me pressuring her. She probably needs space to rest and read and do nothing in particular. Of course, I could still make a suggestion or two, do some strewing, offer her some new ideas to think about. Something might spark her imagination, set her flying off again on new adventures.
“Now the weather is cool we could go for some more bush walks,” I said. “I’ve been meaning to get the wildflower identification book out. I’d like to know the names of a few more flowers. What do you think?”
We agreed that an outing would be very enjoyable. Get outside and enjoy nature, take our cameras and capture some photos, have a picnic. It sounds just what we need.
Perhaps children, like mothers, need quiet times. Life doesn’t always have to be full on. School schedules might suggest learning happens at a constant rate, but I bet it doesn’t. I’m talking about the visible kind of learning because, of course, we never quite know what’s going on inside a person. We can never measure all that is being processed unobserved.
Do you know what I’m going to do now? I’m off to find that wildflower book. And perhaps I’ll take a game or two down from the shelf. We have some CDs we haven’t played for a while. And maybe I could strew a painting on the wall…
PS: I’ve just remembered it wasn’t so long ago that my 17-year-old daughter Charlotte was drifting through her days, feeling uninspired. I spoke about that in my podcast, Exciting Times, Slow Times and Unschool Holidays. But today Charlotte’s eyes are alight with excitement as she thinks about starting her first university unit. She has found a Bachelor of Arts degree she wants to do. I might write or speak about that in another post!
Photos: The red flower above is definitely a honey flower, also known as a mountain devil, but I’m not sure about the flower to the left. It could be an old man Banksia (Banksia serrata) When I’ve done some research, using our identification book, I’ll know for sure!
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