“Not my circus, not my monkeys.” – Author Unknown
You’ve seen that mom: The one on the phone paying the water bill, dropping the toddler who is reaching for the lit candle in the doctor’s office, kicking at her teenager as he stares off in the distance unaware of his ability to save her from a stroke, glancing around for her thumb-sucking kindergartener who is shaking hands with the coughing stranger.
Let’s face it. You may have even been that mom. I have. In these moments, no one would believe I am a Headmistress of a classical homeschooling program, much less an Executive Director who runs a payroll and teaches Latin.
Grace. Of course we all are swimming in it and need to practice the humbling act of splashing it in the faces of our friends and acquaintances.
But what happens when the monkeys and the circus are yours, and you’re not out in an office, but in your assigned role where you’ve been given the task of reigning it all in?
Homeschool Group Leader may be synonymous with Ringleader, but when the objective is education, not entertainment, and the participants are humans, not animals, one must note the stark differences.
The kids eat their snacks down the hallway of the church leaving a trail of crumbs. That’s your responsibility, darlin’. The bold teenager, lacking the developed frontal lobe, continues to interrupt his physics tutor. That’s yours, too. The persistent painter who just can’t control herself when the art supplies are being passed out? Yep, your department.
So how are you, homeschooling mom, with dinners to plan, errands to run, and booboos to kiss, supposed to manage this group?
Planning. Communication. Expectation. And Enforcement.
If you are not capable of enforcing a policy, don’t write it. If you are not capable of reminding a momma her kids must eat in the lunch room on her blanket, don’t make restrictions regarding food. If you are not capable of correcting a teenager respectfully and appropriately, don’t expect productive class time. If you are not capable of sitting with an eager child while she watches her classmates get their supplies first, be careful not to market your group to families who expect better behavior of their children.
I’ve done the pendulum swing. I’ve embarrassed kids out of frustration instead of love. I’ve avoided moms out of awkwardness instead of approaching them with confidence in their ability to handle the matter. I’ve come home to vent and complain about my concerns, instead of communicating to the parent or tutor, which easily opens a door for discussion and solutions.
I’ve learned that when hospitality, love, and humility are the driving forces behind my confrontations with the people I serve, conflict takes its rightful place as a tool for growth, and the enemy is not given an undue place in our program.
I’m not in this alone. I have a team, an Advisory Council, and they work with me to create policies, and when needed, to enforce them. I have a Board of Directors. If a situation is not being met with reasonableness, the proper authority is in place to support me, not as a warden, but as a Headmistress. The objective is to plan accordingly, communicate plainly, expect reasonably, and enforce consistently. This makes my job manageable throughout the academic year.
I’ve learned to be less aggravated with the behavior, and more loving of the human. I want the fellow moms and dads I have chosen to give authority over my children to come alongside them, love them, correct them, and help me to have rightful expectations of them. That is a practical application of focusing on what is True, Good, and Beautiful.