By: Kate Karman
I disapprove of boxes.
Boxes are fine for packing things, playing in, wrapping and unwrapping and storage. But I disapprove of living in boxes.
When I was 15, I took a vocational survey, which assessed, analyzed, categorized dissected and anatomized my answers, my abilities and my personality. I hated it. For one thing, it told me I had no personality. … … … Right. … … … My graph was very flat. And that disturbed me. I didn’t fit into their formulaic boxes. I was different.
Since then I have taken many more surveys… spiritual gifts surveys, more vocational aptitude surveys, personality surveys, learning style surveys, and, my favorite, the “Which Classic Heroine Are You” quiz on the Internet. In every case, I never quite fit.
Eleven years later, I’m still different. When people ask me what I’m up to these days, I have to embark on a lengthy monologue about how I’m teaching piano, but I’m down to just four students; but that leaves me with more time for my graphic design business, which is nice when I have work and not so nice when I don’t; and then there’s my writing class, which isn’t really a class right now – more like a writers’ group, until you start to think about the writing tutoring that I’m doing, too; but let’s not forget my work with OCEAN or the volunteering at my church or the childcare that I do, or the chemistry class I’m auditing….
I don’t fit into a box. It would be so much simpler to say, “I’m a senior in college,” or “I’m a nurse,” or “I’m an astro-physicist.” But that’s not the way God made me. And that’s just fine. I don’t have to fit into someone else’s mold. One of my favorite bumper stickers reads, “You’re unique… just like everyone else.” (My other favorite says, “England forever, and Scotland just a wee bit longer” but that’s completely beside the point.)
This is one reason that homeschooling is so great: we don’t have to squish our kids into preconceived and pre-packaged boxes. They are individuals, and we can treat them as such. In every area, we can teach them that “God made you special, and He loves you very much!” (Sometimes vegetables have a real way with words!)
The real challenge comes in high school and beyond. Where do these homeschooled young people fit? What do they pursue? Where do they go to college? Do they go to college? How do they use their talents, abilities and interests in a God-honoring way?
It’s tempting to start squishing these young people into molds. “You like biology? You’re going to be a nurse!” “You like geometry? You’re going to be an engineer.” “You like speech and debate? You’re going to be a politician.”
So, you ask, what do I do with my 15-year-old daughter who just can’t get enough calculus? Or what about my 17-year-old son who would write skits for Children’s Church all the time if I didn’t make him do the rest of his school work? And what of the 16-year-old girl who has an aptitude for wiring and electronics? Or what about the budding artist in my family, since everyone knows that the main difference between an artist and a 14-inch pizza is that the pizza can feed a family of four?
I don’t know. But I do know that God didn’t make mistakes when He wired your kids the way He did. He has a special task for each child, a special story already written out with your son or daughter in the lead role. I can’t even begin to suggest “different” ways of looking at your child’s gifts. All I can come up with are more boxes. You and your child need to explore the possibilities and find something that fits him or her. And if you don’t see something out there that’s a perfect fit, come up with something on your own.
Our God is a creative God. Not only did He create the universe and everything in it, but He also orchestrates the events in our lives creatively. His thoughts are above our thoughts, and His ways above our ways. So don’t expect to find boring old uncreative answers out there.
The main point is that God will use the abilities and interests He has given your children in His own way. Don’t fall into the trap of thinking that your children are going to look “normal.” Normal is just a setting on your drier, and even that doesn’t work right half the time. Don’t keep your children in a box!
© 2007 by Kate Karman
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