When Lisa and I signed up Tarcisius for his spring baseball season earlier this year, we all knew that it would be his last year in Little League. He turned 13 years old, which is too old to play any longer; so, in a sense, it’s a graduation. And like almost every kid who has ever picked up a bat, he dreamed of hitting a home run one day. (Unlike in the Major Leagues, home runs are rare in little league.) And with encouraging parents who have always told him that he would hit balls out one day, he never had much doubt that baseballs were going to be “leaving the yard.” Yet, though he had frequently come close, he had never hit a ball over the wall.
However, on the night of his very last game, in his last batting practice before the session, he crushed a ball over the left field wall. In fact, it went so far that it rolled halfway to the next field. Mission accomplished.
After he hit it, Tarcisius glanced over at me and gave me a look that seemed to say two things: first, “It’s about time,” and second, “That’s the first of many, Dad!”
George Gilder, author of Wealth and Poverty, wrote: “Dreams always die when they come true.” I think what he meant was that once our goal is attained, we don’t need the dream anymore, because it has become a reality. And then you need another dream.
That’s the funny thing about dreams— about goals and aspirations: they are usually about tomorrow. Don’t get me wrong—it’s important to think about tomorrow, to think about accomplishment. But what about today? Sometimes we put so much emphasis on what might happen tomorrow that we forget about today. “Today” takes a bad rap—it is often the unfulfilled hope of yesterday, and it lacks the promise of tomorrow.
The more I thought about it, the more I wondered: was that hit any more important than anything he achieved in T-Ball? Was it a bigger accomplishment than pitching well in the minor little league? Are any of our accomplishments of tomorrow greater than those of today?
For homeschooling parents, it’s a question worth pondering.
More than most of life’s endeavors, academics are tomorrow-oriented. Even the names point toward the future: Literature 1 implies Literature 2, and fifth grade suggests sixth grade. High school is a prelude to college, and college is just a preparation for post-graduate work. At times, you may begin to wonder if children are just overwhelmed by it all. When the boxes of school books arrive, do the children ever think: “Even when I’m finished with all this work, it only means that I have to move on from the seventh grade to the eighth grade!”
The goal of homeschooling is to help our children get to Heaven; there is no more noble goal. Yet, sometimes this goal may cause us homeschooling parents to live for tomorrow, to the exclusion of today. And presumably, today is just as important as tomorrow, if not more important; after all, we are alive and able to make a difference today—tomorrow offers no such guarantee. And the thought of tomorrow may just as easily cause consternation, as Our Lord counseled us in Matthew 6:34: “So do not worry about tomorrow; for tomorrow will care for itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.”
Moreover, we are called to be happy today, as Psalm 118:24 tells us: “Today is the day the Lord has made. Let us rejoice and be glad in it.”
Children must understand that the good that they do today matters. They should be congratulated for the accomplishments of the present, rather than simply making a move closer to something in the future. The goodness of today doesn’t consist of the fact that it precedes tomorrow. Today is good on its own merits. That’s not just true for academics—that’s true for many aspects of parenting.
This morning, as I was having a cup of coffee, our little two-year-old daughter Mary Katherine wandered into the kitchen with her toy ponies in hand. She proceeded to tell me a very detailed story about them; however, since she is still learning how to speak clearly, I could only understand about ten percent of her words. But she was so emphatic, with such a powerful range of verbal inflection that I was able to decipher the basic feeling of the story. I thought that it was so cute that she wanted to teach me about each of her special toys, that I sat and listened to her for quite a while. Every once in a while, I would interject with a word of approval or a question, and she would answer me and move on with her story.
Let me tell you something: the first thing that went through my mind was not that, one day, she will be able to speak clearly, using proper syntax and grammatical structure. However advanced a linguist she ever becomes, I’ll always appreciate today, and the conversation we had. For that matter, I’m looking forward to another conversation like that tonight.
This year, Seton is introducing a Pre-K program. Presumably, Kindergarten follows Pre-K. Don’t worry so much about that. Try not to even think much about that. This Pre-K program is a wonderful way to teach your children; it is a terrific way to enjoy teaching your children today. Wherever you are in the homeschooling process, it is important that you and your children understand the good that can be accomplished today.
And then go do it.
Header Image CC slapstix55