Most are familiar with the clichéd motif in literature where a child remembers a summer of bliss — long days playing at the beach, wide open spaces to explore and the only interruptions being for food or sleep. Sometimes it’s portrayed as the last innocent summer of a child’s life, a comfortable existence in a world that holds no dangers. I would love to give this to my girls, and I hope that when they look back on this time in their lives, it’ll be with nostalgic fondness.

Calista and Delaney playing on the beach, February 2013
The girls spend more time playing on the sand than in the chilly waters this far south, and that's enough of a beach experience for them!

Like many homeschooling parents, I too have an agenda for the girls’ “learning” each day. Some days we have deliberate outings, other times I use what we find in the world around us to encourage their young minds to enquire. Words are read, others are sounded out, math formulas are offered and questioned are bounced back to the child for speculation. For those like me who are deliberately unschooling, it’s a constant inner struggle to fight my own fear-based agendas and let our children freely pursue the knowledge they wish to acquire.

A while back, I received a valuable lesson from the girls. After tidying the bus and completing my chores, I turned to where they were playing and asked, “So, do you girls want to do something today?” Hardly looking up, Aisha replied, “We are doing something!” And that was that — I backed off and postponed the day’s planned activity.

And so it goes. I am blessed to be able to take it slow if that’s what the girls want. At the moment they revel in time at the beach — playing in the sand, analysing shells, collecting sticks and drawing pictures. The water is almost completely ignored — it’s too chilly for comfort anyhow — as the girls spend hours each day in an ever-changing parade of games.

This is ironic in so many ways because I am not a natural beach bunny. I prefer shade and fresh water away from sand and salt. However, the girls’ passions pull me out of my own comfort zones and into their own, and that’s one of the reciprocal benefits of devoting myself to them — their passions become my own as I seek to love them fully in the way they best respond.