The dreadlocks were glorious. Brown, with streaks of gold, they flowed down the young man’s back ending at his waist. I wondered how he had gotten them so long, and so uniform. I wondered how heavy they were. I wondered how he washed them. Does one wash dreadlocks? Now understand that I am not a lover of this particular hairstyle. Call me an old fuddy-duddy, but I generally appreciate a head of flowing, fluffy, just-washed looking hair. I tried the hippie thing years ago and it just wasn’t a good fit for me. If I never smell patchouli again, I shall die a happy woman.
My best friend growing up was an orange tiger-striped tom cat named Kitty. (The name seemed marvelously fitting to my three-year-old mind.) Kitty was a lover and, bless his furry little heart, was mentally challenged as well. He had a curious habit that never failed to make me chuckle.
In his desire to find a warm lap to snuggle on, Kitty would leap up on the first available person. If rejected, he would try the next lap. Like a persistent door-to-door salesman, he would make his attempt on literally every lap in the room. When rejection met him at every turn, he would do a strange thing.
The pop was sharp and unexpected. It was obnoxiously loud, like a gunshot. My youngest child’s face was frozen in shock. Wide blue eyes welled up as she set down the pump and quietly stated, “I don’t want to do this anymore.”
My daughter had received a gift some time before—a kit complete with long balloons, an air pump, and a colorful instruction book. She had decided that it was time to crack it open and become a balloon artist. You could almost see her visions of bending, squeaking, balloon-twisting madness as she effortlessly created a menagerie of creatures to the awe and delight of all.
Unfortunately, the balloons had been sitting unused for too long and were now brittle. They would explode at the slightest provocation, long before they could be crafted into some magnificent creation. It was definitely not turning out to be the fun she had hoped for.
I remember that feeling of disappointment as a child. Having a grand vision that just doesn’t work out. So, unbeknownst to her, I did a bit of research and ordered a bag of balloons. The kind the ‘pros’ use. Two hundred and fifty rubbery multicolored bits of fun. Or so I hoped.
When the bag arrived a couple of weeks later, I was swamped. We were hosting a family party and the house needed tidying. The laundry was piled to the ceiling, shopping needed to be done and, well, I just wasn’t in a crafty/creative sort of mood. I was far too busy, darn it!
Then I looked at the kids’ eyes, all shining with excitement as only children’s can. Suddenly, none of my to-do list mattered all that much. The laundry and shopping could wait—chores like that are never really done anyway, right? And my guests could handle a little clutter and dust.
So I sat down with my youngest child and we proceeded to learn a new skill.
We began with a snake hat. Who doesn’t secretly desire a snake hat?
I was surprised at how much fun it was. It was quite sporty, don’t you think?
Eventually, others joined in to make their own creations. Our fun was contagious.
We made an arsenal of swords to share at the party. Even my brother joined in. Sword fighting with their uncle was a highlight of the evening.
Sometimes we homeschool moms take this learning business far too seriously. We tend to worry too much whether our kids will learn the important things like Latin and Calculus. We obsess over the basics of math and language arts as if those are the only things that matter.
If there is anything I have learned in my 12 years of homeschooling it is this:
Creativity matters too.
And these years will be gone all too fast. I doubt that at the end of this journey I will be kicking myself for not doing enough math drills or spelling tests. No, I already know that I will regret not taking more opportunities to have fun with my kids.
I’m sure glad I took the time out of my busy day to learn this new skill with my favorite people. And who knows, maybe one of them will become a world famous Balloon Artiste someday.