Pulling Tolstoy off the shelf one day I flipped through Anna Karenina while waiting for my son to collect his shoes. The hefty volume opened easily, and I was a little surprised to discover the following:
“You’re very, very funny,” Darya Alexandrovna repeated studying his face tenderly. “Well, all right, it will be as if we never spoke of it. What is it, Tanya?” she said in French to the girl who had just come in.
“Where’s my shovel, Mama?”
“I am speaking French, and you should do the same. ”
The girl wanted to do the same, but forgot what a shovel is called in French; her mother told her amd then proceeded to tell her in French where to find the shovel. And Levin found this disagreeable.
Now everything in Darya Alexandrovna’s house and in her children seemed less nice to him than before.
“And why does she speak French with the children?” he thought, “How unnatural and false it is! And the children can feel it. Teaching French and unteaching sincerity,” he thought to himself, not knowing that Darya Alexandrovna had already thought it all over twenty times and, to the detriment of sincerity, had found it necessary to teach her children in this way.
My thoughts instantly applied these words to my own parenting and home education. Living and teaching educational and moral integrity are a great concern to me. So often I fall prey to comparing myself to others, or even worse, comparing myself to unrealistic ideals, which live solely in my own head. In the end, my children may be the ones to suffer. Instead of allowing them to explore their own, genuine interests, I demand standards which do not honor who my children really are. I want to be authentic, full of integrity. I want to love my children for who they are, allowing them to pursue their own fields of study, despite the fact that they may be far from my own. Relationships before arithmetic. Sincerity and strong moral character before chemistry. Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins. 1 Peter 4:8.
What parent doesn’t want their child looking to them with love and respect? First, I need to show them the same love and respect, perhaps in even greater quantity. Even if it entails encouraging the compilation of Hogwart’s spells. Or let’s say, baseball statistics.
As I speak and live for my children, let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in your sight, O LORD, my rock and my redeemer. Psalm 19:14.
Sliding Tolstoy back on the shelf, I help G tie his shoes.