Real life is gathering everyone for circle time to find the toddler is stinky and needs to be changed. Real life is gathering everyone for circle time a second time to be interrupted by a scream and uncontrollable sobs from the preschooler because she almost dropped her binder and a paper fell out.

Take a deep breath. Repeat after me, “This is not a big deal. Stay calm. Don’t panic.” Oh, was that for the preschooler or for me?

math quitter

Real life is when the math student plops himself down on the floor, mumbling, “I quit!” because he thinks his math is too hard — the same math that was a cinch the day before. Real life is when said student thinks you’re entirely unreasonable because having a number on all the answer spaces doesn’t count as being done. They have to be the right answer? All of them?? What a tyrant.

There are many times when we want to quit. All the interruptions in our days feel like a problem, instead they are an opportunity for real life teaching.

Real life being dealt with consistently and calmly is more important and more effective than the Latin lesson or the math drill sheet. As much as the academics may be about knowledge and understanding, they are also the occassion through which our children – and ourselves – practice and gain character. It is not a separate subject. It is not a collection of abstract nouns. It is doing the right thing in the insignificant moment, among the least of these, here and now.

We are teaching the children how to live by how we handle real life and how we teach them to handle it. Hang in there. We can do it, God helping us.


  1. Real life is starting a reading of the Declaration of Independence three times because of a question, then a glass of spilled milk.

    Real life is putting the book down–the one the takes me several tries to understand what I’m reading–so that I can give a child a cooking lesson.

    God help us every one!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *