When I was a popular 13-year-old eighth grader at a privileged public middle school in glamtastic Southern California I shocked my parents silly.
I requested to be driven across the bridge to take the placement exams for an all-girls-Catholic, uniform-wearing high school in the larger San Diego area. They complied with my request and I actually ended up attending that Catholic school as a freshman. What I did not tell my parents was that this school switch was an attempt to escape the temptations I knew would face me in the local public high school. This local high school was a total 90210 scene. My peers grew up really fast in that school – drugs, sex, appearance obsession – it was all there. I avoided most of that temptation across the bridge. Our Lady of Peace was no bastion of angelic teenage women, but it was not as full of the temptations as the local high school. To this day, when I go home and visit my parents, several of my childhood friends marvel at the different path my life took from their lives and even laud me for avoiding many of the pitfalls into which they dipped. But, did I really make the hard choices or did I simply run and hide?
In the Gospel of Matthew, when the apostles asked Our Lord how they should pray, He gave them a very concrete answer. He gave us the Our Father. The last sentence implores, “Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. Amen.” Well, I have been pondering the idea of avoiding and eliminating temptation in my life and even wondering if I might be taking things too far?
For example, I must access the internet from a desktop…. atop a desk… within our apartment. That’s right, just like we all did it 10 years ago. We have enough disposable income to buy a few IPad Minis, but I simply cannot handle it. It would be too hard for me to limit my internet time if it was in the car or on the playground with us, I just know that about myself. I have always thought of myself as a self-disciplined individual, but something about the rigors of being a stay-at-home-mother of many children seems to have stripped me of my discipline reserves. Want to know another temptation I would never be able to resist: a video game console of any sort. I have a 5-year-old-boy who is absolutely nuts. Nuts in a good way: happy-go-lucky-smiling-blue-eyes-climb-off-the-balcony-instead-of-going-out-the-door-nuts. He also loves video games. I cannot even begin to contemplate how much laundry I could get done or how much toy pick-up I could spare myself if I plugged him and his 3-year-old counterpart into a Sega (is that still something?). Don’t get me wrong, I do not want to come off sounding sanctimonious. I have nothing against limited usage of video games.. I just know that I am too weak to accomplish the requisite limitations. For example, I recently heard wonderful friends talking about how they use their game systems as rewards for room cleaning or only when Daddy is home. These ideas sound genius, but nope, I am too weak. For me, a shower would be a good enough reason, and then oh, just one more sinkful of dishes and then… But, what if I am not training these boys to plan their time, to resist temptation, to work before play? What if I am selfishly keeping something out of my home to avoid whining when I could use it as a real teaching aid?
The most frightening thought to trickle across my cerebrum lately is, what if this is exactly why I homeschool? What if my attempts to shield these little people from the temptations of bad language and behavior and priorities amongst their school peers is setting them up to fail later on? What if I am enabling them to hide? Furthermore, I know that I am totally the type of mom who would get overly involved in every aspect of their schools at the detriment of our home life, so I have avoided even entering that tempting world of PTA and social bake sales for myself as well. Recently, my husband (who is insanely pro-homeschooling, even the bad way I do it) allayed my fears by offering up the example of the Our Father. He reassured me that Jesus said it is ok to ask not to be lead into temptation, so why can’t we structure our lives in such a way? My response was that then it is difficult to be salt and light and that we are never going to be living on a Catholic compound. So, the internal debate rages on. How do you find a balance between a) teaching your children and yourself healthy ways to manage temptation and b) protecting yourself and those you love from an onslaught that could lead to sinful choices?
Nice and light for a Monday..