Broken Bowls and a Baby: Homeschool Report

Last week we went to meet a baby and broke two bowls.

Friday morning was an Osborne Elementary field trip to meet my friends Amy and DJ’s new baby. They are brand new parents and wonderful people. The trip was 50 minutes each way so I planned and packed some “school” for all three to complete in the car. Working dutifully, they completed dictation, math, and cursive. In the last 10 minutes, they were set loose and chose to write a “songs in real life” script. Eli and Andi made up a play where the characters speak mostly in song lyrics from today’s hit songs. If you know Young Life camp, think a small-scale opera. What I noticed is their creativity and partnership in giving ideas, giggling and being goofy, and being so excited to write and perform something.

We arrived at their house and I panicked. What are my three big kids going to do in a house with no toys and one baby? I offered books and more school but they ran off into the house, “No thanks Mom!”

Meeting EveLynn was joyful. A very perfect, snugly, and sweet baby in the home of parents so vulnerably in love and well prepared, was a warm setting. Eli loves babies, Andi loves holding babies confidently, and Oaks thinks babies are soft and smooth.  They pet their dog, complimented her style and decor, admired her button bouquets and amazing craftiness (crocheted flower baby blanket! amazing dream catcher mobile!) and didn’t even ask to see the basement until I offered to show them the all-brick walls and floor down the steep steps. Everyone took turns holding Ev and no one wanted to leave. Walking back to the car, Eli said, “That was great. I had a good time Mom and at no point did I ever wish I had a book.”


Driving home, I realized gratefully, my kids have grown to be very appreciative and inventive. Homeschool allows these gifts to be practiced and promoted. Eli appreciates babies and can invent Hot Wheels tracks the whole driveway long. Andi appreciates art, projects, and expression and can invent melodramas. Oakley appreciates a dog’s soft underbelly and invents worlds with cars, Lego people, or pillows. None of them was extraordinary that day with Amy’s baby but they appreciated the magnitude of the moment and were present fully in it.

Sunday, we were home alone for dinner with Drew at a YL meeting so I “planned” a throwback dinner menu- Sustad family Sunday night dinner plan: popcorn, Mark’s shaved ice lemonades not included.

Oaks helped me with the air popper and we filled up a big blue melamine bowl.  I moved away to cut up an obligatory vegetable plate (no memory of broccoli on Sustad Sunday nights) and heard a crash behind me. Oaks had jumped off his stool and his hand struck the side of the full popcorn bowl. The bowl crashed and cracked into pieces and the popcorn flew. Eli walked in from a friend’s house and I let him know his dinner was on the floor- welcome home.

I wasn’t upset and understood the purely accidental nature of Oak’s action. I went looking for pieces of plastic and pulled out some bags of microwave kettle corn- thank you Boy Scout Eli. As I paid attention to the popping noises in the microwave, I didn’t look behind me for a bit to the mess on the floor. I served dinner- rescued floor popcorn, broccoli, and warm chemical-laden kettle corn. We had fun and added Parmesan cheese sprinkles to our bowls of buttered corn. We talked about cars (Eli’s obsession right now) and how they might go to Young Life camp themselves one day. Camper helped lick up Parmesan cheese but didn’t go crazy for the popcorn.

After I loaded the dishes in the dishwasher, during which I broke a glass bowl when my Swell bottle toppled over and pushed the bowl off the counter, I had a kairos moment.

I became fully aware of what I had missed before. I felt grace and peace in the middle of chaos. I felt calm and grateful even though I stood in the middle of a mess. 

My epiphany: I did NOTHING to clean up the popcorn. Eli, Andi, and Oakley picked up the big groups of popcorn, found a new bowl, swept up the small smashed pieces, and apologized for the broken bowl loss.

They took care of a problem without being asked! Industriously, they dove in to a situation to remedy it together! Together they cleaned up a mess, with a broom even! With care, they offered me concern.

Throughout the course of the last 18 months, my kids have increased in responsibility and effort. As part of the blessing I say to them, I say, “You’re capable and curious” and they have never ever lived these two truths out more poignantly. IMG_9441

We have hard days, I flop as frustrated teacher/mom, they don’t focus, we put other things first and chase the school train, or do so much school my job suffers. Last week, a new baby and a broken bowl reminded me we are living a gift- time with each other and the space to be inventive, appreciative, responsible and so so aware of God’s great grace.

Photos: Appreciating the “tree of wonder” on a walk, bikes in our van for a bike ride with Will last week, and the Hot Wheels line up. 

IMG_9425 IMG_9423


No comments yet.

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.