Thursday, March 29, 2007

One month later...

I emerge triumphantly. The decision to homeschool my two older kids has been an insightful, yet demanding one. Scratch that, the decision wasn’t as difficult as putting my objectives to practice. I admit to having preconceived notions about homeschoolers. Religious extremist comes to mind...and if you’re homeschooling then you must have given birth to at least eleven children and the sole reason for keeping them home is to reunite the church and state. Not that I actually believe all homeschoolers can be lumped into one close-minded category, it's just one of those blurry notions that I never took the time to discover. I was bound and determined to reject any and all homeschooling practices that even vaguely resembled my judgments. We will be liberated to unlearn and set free our uninhibited creativity! We won’t link our lessons to a bible and schedules be gone! I imagined our homeschooling experience would include blowing up experimental recipes on the kitchen floor, reciting the algebraic order of operations while skipping around the living room to Steely Dan, and finger painting multicolored children holding hands on a bright green earth. In theory, that sounds pretty whimsical and inspired doesn’t it? Just call me Puff the Magic Mother. Unfortunately, putting my ideals into practice with an almost two-year-old, tantrum-throwing, wall-drawing, diaper-removing, cd-biting, apple-chucking, top of his lungs-screeching rascal makes it….. problematic. The Papoose and I used to have six uninterrupted hours to do with what we wanted and without all this homeschooling business. I guess I forgot he’d have an adjustment period too. In his always curious mind, he doesn’t understand why they can’t simply play with him all day. And it’s not like he doesn’t try every trick in his book to get their attention either. As it turns out however, my two older monkeys are incredibly adept at concentrating on subjects and predicates while having their ankles chewed to bits. My Boy even divided syllables while receiving two toddler-sized kidney punches this morning. Impressive.

We make a batch of pancakes and read a book or two. We go swimming and count to ten in Japanese. We play outside and count the rings of a tree. If you ask me how it’s going, I’m not sure I could answer confidently yet. Are there gaps I’m missing? Are they headed toward social retardation? Am I qualified as their primary life guru? Do I rely on the bribing power of m&m’s too frequently? Oh my god did I even brush my hair today?

I keep reminding myself that none of my fears matter more than the stomach aches he used to endure when facing the bullies, or the absolute boredom and indifference she came home with every day. My children are happy. Happy to be home with me? They don’t think I’m totally the lamest person ever? You want to hang with me? You think I’m like the smartest person in the world? Child, would it be possible to delay or even avoid the inevitable disdain you’ll feel towards me on your 13th birthday? Because I like being with you and I like that you like being with me. I hope this mutual sentiment can carry us through the learning process in the future, but for now, I simply like you being happy and wholehearted. Every so often I get caught up in the rush to raise them and forget how young eight and ten can be. Old enough to work the toaster and send an email, but still young enough to sit awkwardly on my lap with elbows and knees jabbing me from all directions as I read aloud.

Like anything, it’s not perfection. I miss the two hours of quiet I once had to myself. The laundry is piling up faster than I can pour the detergent. Suppers as of late have more often been grilled sandwiches than square meals. I’ve been the textbook case of a frazzled freak as often as I’ve been a shining example of patience and composure.

There’s a reason smallish people are so resilient and forgiving.

Thursday, March 01, 2007

Might as well slap a beginner bra

on her and drop her off at the mall. Because apparently 8½ isn’t too old for my irritable petulant cantankerous over-tired daughter to act like a 13 year old. Oh Child you age your Mama. Cry? Sob hysterically? Flail herself across the bed in a fit of despair? Sure, all in the day’s work of a pre-teen apparently. Good garlic could it possibly GET any worse? Yes it could….zits, horny boys, continuous text messaging, exaggerated sighs and eyeball rolls, walking at least ten steps away from me in order to avoid ANYbody even remotely suspecting we’re related and the long sullen nights spent cooped up in her bedroom sobbing to the schmaltzy bubblegum lyrics of…of…of…omgod. Who the hell will she be listening to? Justin? Usher? Nick Whatshisface? I really need to boost my hipster parent factor by watching MTV again.

I love that girl. She’s a 65 lb me in sparkly pink army fatigues. She’s the “who’s there” to my “knock knock.” She’s the same big sister I was to the same chubby brown-eyed baby brother. She’s the most stubborn and spirited human I’ve had the pleasure of loving.

Today was just one of those days that emphasized the tiny frown wrinkle that is developing between my eyebrows.

Ironically, as she lies asleep in her warm bed, I still miss her.