1 b : something intermediate between or blending qualities of two different things
My parents like to tell the story of the first time I used the word compromise. I was young - 4 or 5 - and I was debating something with my father. The details have been lost - I wanted something and he wanted something else. Perhaps I wanted ice cream for dinner and he wanted an actual meal. The part that is remembered is this: after a bit of discussion, I said, "How about we compromise?" My father laughed at me, thinking I didn't know the meaning of the word I was using. "Compromise?" he said, "What's that?" "You know," I replied, "We don't do it your way and we don't do it my way." Not a bad definition, is it?
You can see some things about me in this story: 1) I loved words at an early age, 2) using the right word in a given situation was important to me even way back when and 3) I've always been quick to compromise if it meant avoiding conflict.
I recently had an epiphany regarding homeschooling my daughter B. It's been an up and down process thus far, so I was praying last night that God would grant us a good day today. I felt one good day would go a long way towards me believing this could be done - that we could actually get through a year of homeschooling together.
My prayer was answered. B was motivated from the moment she woke up. She took her Psalms study to bed with her so that she could do it before she even got out of bed in the morning. Before I left home at 7:45 to take K to school, B had already completed her vocabulary warm up, had a math lesson and was at work on her math problems. By 10:15 when it was time to leave for the orthodontist, only two items remained on B's daily plan: science and Latin. That's when it hit me. The source of her motivation? It was the fact that we were going to the orthodontist and then piano lessons.
This opened my eyes to a pattern I've seen, but not recognized, in our homeschooling: B's best days have been our busiest days. A trip to Cheekwood? Her work was done and she was ready to go. The lake for her birthday? Friends over to do schoolwork alongside my girls? Appointments? Errands? These are the circumstances in which she thrives. Maybe you're thinking, "Great! Now you know how to give her a successful year. Just make sure there's something to do or somewhere to go everyday." The challenge? These same days that B loves are the hardest days for me. They are good days, but exhausting for this introvert mom. It tires me to drive across town for one appointment, then back to our neighborhood for a piano lesson, during which I rush home, eat a sandwich and return to get B. The truth is that my favorite homeschooling days are the days when we don't have to go anywhere between dropping K off at school and picking her up. Those are the days when I can work out, do laundry and read my Bible - all in the same day. (Not one of those things has happened today, just in case you were wondering.)
Clearly, a compromise is needed. I can't go on trying to teach a child who is decidedly unmotivated to do her schoolwork. But I also can't give her a jam-packed schedule every single day without it coming at too great a cost to me (not to mention what it would cost her sister A, who is wired a bit more like me).
So what should I do? Should I set aside one day each week when we'll do a field trip to an art museum, a public garden, even an antique shop? Is one day weekly going to be enough to motivate her? Do I relax our television and electronic standards and make them a goal she can attain by completing quality work in a timely fashion?
I clearly need to find a compromise. I not only need to, I want to. I don't want to force B to conform to the way things work best for me, but I don't think I can - or should - conform to what she wants. How do I blend the qualities we each need in our days, weeks and months to arrive at two satisfied people who have learned from each other?
Suggestions welcome. In the meantime, I'm going to work on having compassion for both of us as we work through this.