Life in the Fast Lane

12 May 2003

by Terry Bowman


One day, as we were traveling on a large four-lane highway, my young daughter presented me with this question: “Deddy—that is her pet name for me—why are there two lanes going in the same direction?” Aware that my responses to her questions often lead to an entire battery of additional questions, I paused for a moment to carefully consider my response. I told her that the inside lane was for the faster moving vehicles and the outer lane was for the slower moving vehicles. As we rushed, as usual, to our destination, I stole a glance at my young daughter. I could tell from the look on her face that the wheels were turning in her head. Oh, no! It is “the look,” the one that always precedes a forthcoming interrogation. I drew a deep breath, hunkered down for the onslaught, and waited for the inevitable. After several tense moments it came. With childhood innocence she asked this killer question: “Deddy, why do we always go places in the fast lane?” Ouch, that hurt! What a perceptive observation—a blatant statement of fact concerning her parents’ habitual lateness. Though it occurred several years ago, recollection of my daughter's question prompted this thought: it seems that our life as a homeschool family is often lived in the “fast lane.”

It is amazing how our children adopt our habits and our lifestyles. For several years following her killer question, whenever my little girl was determined to go somewhere in a hurry, she would say, “Get in the fast lane, Deddy!” Her statement is so indicative of our time-driven society and our lifestyles. It prompts the question: Are we traveling in the right direction or just moving in a randomly chosen direction at a high rate of speed? It seems we are nearly always hauling down the road of life at warp speed, teetering on the brink of being out of control. We are always busy. There is no such thing as a routine homeschool day. Reading, writing, and arithmetic are frequently interrupted by medical, dental and eye doctor appointments, grocery shopping, meal preparation, laundry, house cleaning, yard work, sports team practices and games, piano lessons, 4-H meetings, homeschool support group classes and meetings, chores—whew! I need to pause a moment and take a deep breath—Monday night church visitation, Tuesday evening art classes, Wednesday night church activities, Thursday night gymnastics, Friday night church youth activities, and Sunday church services. Get the picture? Our schedule has been so busy at times in the past that we have watched two baseball games simultaneously. We would pick a spot between baseball fields and use binoculars to watch each of our sons play in separate games. Sometimes our lives resemble over-packed suitcases. Can we cram in one more activity? Do you know what I mean? Have you been there?

            As a homeschool parent, you know how it is. We want to give our children the best education possible while giving them every opportunity to develop their social skills. We want to be armed with a solid response to the dreaded question every homeschool parent faces: “But what about socialization?” Yet, we need to be careful as we travel down the road on our homeschool journey not to over-commit our children or ourselves. We need to ease off the accelerator, slow down our engine, pull over to the shoulder of the road and examine our roadmap once in a while. We need to remember the reasons we chose to homeschool, the goals we set for homeschooling and to evaluate our progress toward this destination. We must honestly ask ourselves what our objective is. Is it to raise the next Albert Einstein, Bill Gates, or Michael Jordan? Are we trying to live out our own dreams of success through our children or are we trying to equip them for life? I hope our objective is Biblical in nature and not self-centered. When I think of sound objectives for home educating, the following two passages come to mind:


Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it. (Proverbs 22:6)


You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength. And these words which I command you today shall be in your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up. (Deuteronomy 6:5-7)


            With these passages in mind, we need to ask ourselves, are we passing our Christian faith and heritage to our children? Are we teaching our children our Christian values, morals and principles? Are we instilling within them self-esteem and godly character? Are we teaching them to teach themselves?

            Traveling at a high rate of speed all of the time can lead to breakdown or a crash—burnout frustration, and loss of focus. This school year we are making a deliberate effort to pull over to the slow lane on the road of education for a while and to take fewer extracurricular side exits by turning down some of the opportunities that knock at our door. We believe that a slow, deliberate, steady pace will enable us to meet our objectives better than the wide-open racetrack life that we often live. So, the next time you find yourself speeding down the road of life, teetering on the edge of chaos, make a deliberate effort to move over to the slow lane.


Terry Bowman is a part-time freelance writer. He and Karen, his wife of twenty years, make their home near Wilmington, North Carolina with their three children: Neal, sixteen; Mark, fourteen; and Lori, eleven. The Bowmans are in their eighth year of homeschooling.

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