Laugh and the world laughs…

Is it just that today is Monday?  Is that why it went so horribly?  With my two younger boys, I spent the morning reminding, correcting, chastizing, pleading, cajoling, speaking sternly… then, finally, I dished out some spanks, which I don’t like to do anyways, and I certainly don’t like to do over school matters.  But, there was such great resistance from them… and this was after Wesley, last night, was telling me about how happy he was that tomorrow was school.  Ugh.

Then, it continued through lunch, and I finally sent the both of them (for different offenses) to a nap.  It was 1:30, and I told them that they are to stay in bed until they a) either really sleep, or b) until Dad comes home, which is usually between 6:00 and 6:30.  Too extreme?  Perhaps… but I was so wound up from the constant battle, which just makes me want to cry, because I don’t want to battle my children.  And, since I’d spent a good 6+ hours in conflict, I just wanted to tuck them away and not deal further with their obstinancy, or whatever it is.  And, I’m hoping that it’s an effectively deterrent discipline, to lie there for five hours, bored out of their gourds, in a dark room.

And then, I came out and thanked Ethan for his cooperation this morning.  He was fantastic.  Perhaps that has something to do with the fact that he, essentially, had a shortened day of work, since I spent excessive time with the two younger boys trying to get them to cooperate with anything.  Still.  I let him pick his own TV show (Firepower on the Military Channel) and gave him an Otter Pop, letting him know that his behavior was the only thing that was keeping me from despairing and bursting into tears.  No pressure, right?

I say that as a precursor to my real topic at hand, which was an absolutely fabulous conversation I had with Ethan this morning, one of those where I think, even while in the midst of conversing, “This is why we homeschool.”

I guess I want to present my day as realistically as possible…  I get discouraged, sometimes, from reading non-stop chipper posts from other homeschooling families who have ALL ah-ha moments, and the kids get along fabulously, and it’s oh-so-rewarding for everyone involved.  For me, it tends to be a balance of events that make me question my ability to mother, with events that make me want to cry for joy at their beauty and delight.


I am trying to FLY through the rest of Sonlight’s Core 3 with Ethan, which he/we have been working on since February of 2007.  Yet, we’re only on week 23?  24?  out of 36 in the curriculum, and that’s with me schooling a full 35 weeks per year, as required by the State of Arizona.  I think our slow progress is because I’m so intent on having my kids’ education so well-rounded that it’s just impossible to do a day’s worth of work in a day, when you fit Bible, Music, Latin, Typing and whatever else into the day, in addition to History, Reading, English and Math.  So, I told Ethan that we, at least for now, are not doing Latin, at least until we get Core 3 done.  And, actually, we’ve done three weeks’ worth of work in two weeks’ time, so that’s good.  Part of the reason I’m eager to get DONE with it is that, now that he’s in 6th grade, it’s getting harder to boost up the level of work in Core 3, which is, essentially, material appropriate for an advanced 3rd grader to 4th grader.  And, I’m eager to be done with American History, so we can get on to… well, Core 4, which is more American History, but then will be Core 5 which is all Eastern Hemisphere.   

All of that to explain why we, just today, got to this poem, Solitude, by Ella Wheeler Wilcox.

Laugh, and the world laughs with you;
Weep, and you weep alone.
For the sad old earth must borrow it’s mirth,
But has trouble enough of its own.
Sing, and the hills will answer;
Sigh, it is lost on the air.
The echoes bound to a joyful sound,
But shrink from voicing care.

Rejoice, and men will seek you;
Grieve, and they turn and go.
They want full measure of all your pleasure,
But they do not need your woe.
Be glad, and your friends are many;
Be sad, and you lose them all.
There are none to decline your nectared wine,
But alone you must drink life’s gall.

Feast, and your halls are crowded;
Fast, and the world goes by.
Succeed and give, and it helps you live,
But no man can help you die.
There is room in the halls of pleasure
For a long and lordly train,
But one by one we must all file on
Through the narrow aisles of pain.

It’s a famous poem, of course, and I told him that he was likely to hear the first two lines repeated several more times in his life by quoters who likely wouldn’t know the source;  they stand, famously, on their own.

The whole poem, though, led to a conversation about our nature vs. God’s nature; the natural vs. the supernatural; our response vs. God’s response…  We contrasted the truth of the poem with the admonishment by Paul to all believers in Romans 12:15:

Rejoice with those who rejoice [sharing others’ joy], and weep with those who weep [sharing others’ grief].

He totally got why such instructions would be necessary; that, without such instruction, we would continually be laughing with those who laugh, and ostracizing those who weep.

It was one of those conversations that made me brim with hopefulness for the maturity and Godliness of my 11yo son, and brim with thankfulness for our wise and loving God.  Plus, it just made me thankful, yet again, for the awesome anthology from which the poem came, and thankful to be homeschooling, so as to be a partaker, with my son, in such philosophizing.  🙂


Now, back to life, and returning my mother’s call.  I had avoided doing so when I was so bothered and grumpy about my boys’ behavior.  I need to tell her, yes, she and my stepdad should come over tonight for dinner…  I do love my mom:  she’s genuinely interested in all of our lives, genuinely loves my children, but other than a gentle reminder here or there, is never prying or bossy.  She’s a pleasure to be with.  And, yes, now that I think I’m fit company, I can tell her that our standing Monday evening dinner is on.  🙂


About Karen Joy

I'm a partially-homeschooling mother of six -- 3 boys ages 19, 17 and 15 years old, and three girls: 11, 8, and 3. I like birding, reading, writing, organic gardening, singing, playing guitar, hiking, the outdoors, and books. I very casually lead a very large group of homeschooling families in the Phoenix area. I have a dear hubby who designs homes for a local home builder and who is the worship pastor of our church. I live in the desert, which I used to hate, but now appreciate.

Posted on September 8, 2008, in Books for children, Christian Living, Family, Homeschooling, Motherhood, Parenting, Poetry, The Kids. Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. I guess I’m terribly guilty of only blogging the nice moments of homeschooling and leaving out how Israel–the six year old who seriously knows betters–was crawling across the table in pursuit of his brother this morning and in the process spilled my tea all over the lesson plan book and sequencing cards that his brother was working through. (Yes, that is a LONG sentence.) I generally leave those parts out of my blog. Maybe I should put them in more often.

    Misery loves company?



  2. Hmm, you are being real, authentic. I had plenty of those days in hs and now that Nat is in school, it is the same obstinancy, just that now we are chasing assignments around. HS is good and bad, like alot of life and marriage and kids and sweet and sour chinese food. Hugs to you, you are like 9 months pregnant, no doubt dealing with hormones and sleep derivation and body pain. Hang in there… and be real.

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