The One Thing

Thoughtful insight from a homeschool mom with lots of experience in the field. I pray you enjoy her words of wisdom as much as I have. 


I was home’s cool when home school wasn’t cool.

We began home schooling in the US when they would arrest us kooks and place our children into foster care. (They still do this in Europe.) We drilled with our children what to do if Mom said, “It’s the STATE!” We had friends within running distance through our woods. They’d whisk our children by car to other friends. . .

We home schooled with a vengeance. If we could end up paying for this with our lives or our children’s lives, we surely were going to make it worth the while. For many of us, our homes resembled miniature academies. Our schedule actually was posted for all to see:

  • Rise at six.
  • Dress, breakfast, chores, and ready to begin with shoes on by eight.
  • Bible memo and singing lessons until 8:30.
  • Beginner reading lessons until nine.
  • Quiet study until ten.
  • P.E. until 10:30.
  • More quiet study until lunch.

On and on it went, everything in order, orchestrated, recorded, double-tasked with housework, diligent, self-disciplined.

Jaw firmly set.

Makes me tense to think of it, but I was young and I believed we were being watched at all times. It did not help a bit that our neighbors actually did report us to the State for truancy, that a case worker actually did visit, that we actually were at loggerheads with them, and that HSLDA, by the time we discovered they existed, had decided not to take in families like ours who’d already tangled with the State.

It also did not help one bit that unbeknownst to us, the local principal did not forward our Intent Forms to the State, his intent being he could continue receiving appropriations for our children, and we, therefore, were not protected by the law.

That’s the tip of the iceberg.

You can imagine what sternness I felt necessary under these circumstances.

I knew I knew what to do with a child who needed to learn something. I loved teaching children, especially my own. I was positive I could do better than the Illiterati that reigned at our local schools. (Copywork from blackboard: Beavers use their tales to signal for danger by slapping it on the water. Note from Principal to parents: PTA meeting this Tuesday. Everybody are invited to attend.)

Once I received my curriculum, I had a wonderful “Aha-a-a” moment when I realized the teachers do not have to know anything: It’s all in the teacher’s book. I loved this. I was ready to go. And I having grown up during Vietnam, I had enough courage to make it all stick.

And I did make it stick. For the next quarter century, I readied six children for college, and they went on to excel and earn degrees in accounting, sciences, or art.

But I did one thing wrong, one thing I never guessed at, one thing I wish someone had said to me, “Kathy, what are you DOING?! You need to change this!”

Well, actually, I did read this advice when my youngest were teens, and I could not figure how to change.

What was it?

I did not smile on my children.

Oh, don’t get me wrong; we had rollicking good times. There were field trips, snow days with hot chocolate, tennis lessons with ice cream, park days, plays, chess club, and more. There were also spontaneous rubber-band wars, started by the teacher, whenever she felt the atmosphere in the classroom needed a boost.

Imagine having to keep a supply of rubber bands in your pocket, as part of your school supplies, just in case the teacher attacked. Yep, we had fun.

What I did not do, though, was smile ON them, as in making eye contact and looking deep into their souls with a smile.

Didn’t happen.

And I don’t know why.

Yet, one of my favorite Bible verses is the blessing from Numbers 6:24-26 which reads: The Lord bless thee, and keep thee: The Lord make his face shine upon thee, and be gracious unto thee: The Lord lift up his countenance upon thee, and give thee peace.

It’s the face shine upon thee part I cannot explain away. All my life, growing up in church, each Sunday, I thought of God smiling a glowing smile on me when the pastor pronounced this blessing.

Every Sunday, all my life, I basked in what I imagined was the smile of God, smiling on me.

And I never smiled ON my children, into their souls, so they could bask in it, as I had basked in God’s smile.

Oh, they grew up to be fine people. Accountant, engineer, botanists, Webmaster, professional illustrator, volunteer fireman, volunteer ball coach, building their own houses with hammers in their own hands, leading a future-wife to the Lord, deacons, Sunday School teachers, bearing us ten grandkids, so far, if you count the tiny ones currently on the way, and not one of them in public school. Grit.

They love us, visit us, ask our advice, accept our help.

But I did not smile that smile I so believed in.

Oh, how I wish I had. . .


Home's CoolForty-three years as a professional mom. Twenty-five years as an educator. Fifteen years writing for women’s and educational magazines. Katharine loves sticking up for women who are motivated to the woman’s role; loves to write, loves to talk, loves using her education and experience to help in relationships and in overcoming unjust treatment.

17 thoughts on “The One Thing

  1. Thank you sharing! Her transparency is awesome and her words encourage me not to miss the forest for the trees. Love how The Lord had it to follow your common core post. While I agree its an important issue to research (and I’ve begun to), the trick is to keep the “main thing the main thing”.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. What a great reminder. I have deliberately done this, and the effect is amazing! Their little faces will open up like flowers to the sun. Unfortunately, I forget the importance of it and don’t do this often enough. Today I will smile on my children. Thanks for sharing.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Pingback: Check It Out! | Home's Cool!

  4. Wow, thank you for posting this. Reminds me as a Dad to smile on my children…not just frown on them! My wife gave me another verse…The Lord your God is among you, as a strong Savior: he will be glad over you with joy, he will make his love new again, he will make a song of joy over you as in the time of a holy feast.
    (Zephaniah 3:17 BBE)

    Liked by 1 person

  5. There’s a certain phenomena regarding human behavior of which I took notice when I first entered the work force many moons ago. Whether at school or at work, when people spend lots of time around each other, it would be rather awkward if you had to wave or say “hi” every time you passed one another. So we adjust to the constant togetherness by walking passed one another as if every other person is just a piece of furniture. If there’s any contact, it’s just a passing glance as we go about our business.
    While this may be both practical and necessary in a work or school setting, it shouldn’t be that way at home. Unfortunately, I work at home, and the kids are homeschooled, so the constant closeness causes us to fall into that kind of behavior. Because I’m aware of the phenomena, I do try to break out of this behavior on occasion (when I’m conscious of engaging in it) and I try to remember to stop and love on my wife and kids. I probably don’t do it enough, but I totally know what you mean about smiling on them. Even when I can’t take the time to stop what I’m doing, beaming a smile at them rather than just giving a passing glance can make them feel loved. Thanks for the reminder to do so!

    Liked by 1 person

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