Me: "Who has the best seat in the house, me or daddy?"

Adam: "Well, Daddy's is nice, but yours is best. Your's is squishier."

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

First Day (of school) or (the rest of your life)

I get a little fixated 
on beginnings and endings.  I see them so symbolically that I can hardly function within them on a literal level.  I mean, who can enjoy birthday cake when you know this will be the last ever second birthday 
you will ever, ever, ever celebrate with your child!?!?

So my current fixation plays out thusly 
(I know, not a word, at least not in this century):
Last year was my year to "get it all figured out" (homeschool, that is.  I have allotted an entire decade to figure out LIFE.  Wish me luck).  So, this year I should be prefect at it.  OK, not perfect, but totally cool-calm-and-relaxed, man.  
I should have no more doubts, fears or hang-ups.  Smooth sailing.


I have been the one feeling a bit nervous.
We did OK today staying on our routine; exercise, chores, reading, science...
and at some point during the day, somewhere between learning how to fix the electrical system on the doll house (thank you Gatlin, for the lesson and help!) and teaching Ellie how to make chicken noodle soup from scratch, I began to think about "the first day of school".  

For me, as a child, that meant the excitement of new clothes, new shoes, and hair ribbons- those chunky yarn ones.  By the sixth grade it meant a daily stomach ache and throwing up every morning for the first two weeks of school.  At first school was fun, but soon enough it had become terrifying and dreaded.

Even around here it used to mean new backpacks, new lunch boxes, and a picture taken on the front walk as we headed to the car.  Today was different.  Today school meant getting up much earlier than our lazy summer routine, but other than that, there were no jitters, no new clothes, no huge change. 

But by the end of the day something had changed for me.  My neighbor was showing me, with disgust, the assignment her 6th grader had been given.  Her son stated "They are totally giving me college work!" with a head shake and an eye roll.  Mom mentioned she might complain, holding it out to me for my commiseration
 (that IS a real word.  Look it up.).

I read the work.  It was pretty detailed reading, I will admit.  But what I really thought inside my head was, "Well, yes it's challenging.  Isn't it supposed to be?",  realizing that I wouldn't mind reading that text to all three of my home-educated kiddos.  The difference being, we would read it, discuss it, look up words we didn't know, and maybe even go find some follow up information online to learn more.  We would do it together, and each kid would work at their own level of capability.  There would be no test, because I would be able to tell if they understood.  It would never have occurred to me that it might be too difficult, because we work on difficult lessons all the time, and I know that if I take care to explain, even little Tessa gets a lot of the concepts.  
And if she doesn't, I am so OK with that.  
She has the rest of her life to learn.

I began to feel sorry for kids who are isolated in public school,
 expected to do so much learning alone.

This evening as I coached Ellie through making her first pot of homemade chicken noodle soup for her daddy who lay sick in bed, our brains were wrapped up in the science of it.  Interesting how the carrots took a little longer to soften than the potatoes, how the pasta swelled, the way the broth boiled, the movement of the steam.  We talked about our use of leftover chicken with new ingredients, and how that can be done with a lot of things, and not just with cooking.  We talked about time management, how each item is added in a certain order, and how we can take advantage of our waiting time by tidying up the kitchen.  
By the time dinner was served, I had:

- a healthy meal for my sick honey

- several grateful and complimentary soup-lovers around the table

- fewer left-overs in my fridge

- an opportunity to teach my daughter cooking and science 
and planning and re-purposing


- a confident and proud 9 year old
who can now make soup
(and hook lights up to a circuit!)

(I wonder which skill she will use more in her life?)

It was a good first day, 
if you can even call it that.


Bald n Beautiful said...

Love it!

Karen said...

Please don't feel sorry for my kids who are also getting an awesome eduction in public school! We cook & bake and discuss reading passages and look things up together on the internet all the time together too! ;)

Laine said...

Karen, I could never feel sorry for children who have a devoted mother! I just feel sorry for kids who sit in a classroom where their talents and learning style are not being honored. It's so great that your kids get that at home from you (that's home education, too!). Good for you!