Yesterday was one of those homeschooling days where everyone keeps drifting away from their work. Admittedly, the kids had a pretty cool game going, they were building ships out of interlocking blocks (we call them wooden legos) and then sending them flying down the hall. Whoever’s ship remained mostly intact won that round.
I was working but could hear E. very patiently remind everyone individually to get back on task. “J, come correct these problems.” “N, please come back and finish your penmanship.” “K, you still have a half page of math problems.” At some point he was losing patience, but didn’t lose his cool (like I would have). E. hardly ever gets audibly mad, he just kind of turns red and shakes, but he wasn’t even that mad. He just used K’s full name to remind her once again to finish her math after she’d drifted away yet again.
This was supremely offensive, so she marched down the hall and proceeded to make this sign. (She had to finish her math in her room, and she did so with an award winning level of sulk.
Sign translation: “I hate school. School is the worst thing in the world.”
And in the pull quote (admirable styling, K): “After I finish math I don’t want to do school ever again because I hate school.”
The night before was… epic. Now that my youngest is five, we normally all sleep well and through the whole night. But for some reason every one had problems. The hall bathroom was torn out, so of course two kids sleep-walked and tried to pee in there. The other came into my room four times for various sleep-talky type things. I finally gave up and made him a bed on the floor which he disorientedly tried to somersault onto. Anyway, it was ridiculous, and so I was trying to sleep in a little bit that morning.
The sound of four racing, and consequently crashing, lego block cars woke me a little earlier than I wanted.
So K’s sign made me smile. I wanted to write the following:
“I hate work. Work is the worst thing in the world. After I finish work, I don’t want to work ever again because I hate work.”
Which isn’t true of course, I just wanted to sleep. But writing a sign about hating lego blocks or ship racing seemed excessive. And K doesn’t really hate school. She doesn’t even hate math. But she was mad and felt out of control of her life.
Raising kids is interesting. My parents were (are) pretty awesome, but I remember struggling for autonomy on more than one occasion. My parents never yelled (not hyperbolic, seriously, never, ever), but I’d often end up in very long, very deep discussions about rules and obedience and the consequences of actions when I was trying to negotiate for more freedom.
I feel like we have a ton of freedom in homeschooling. If we’re sick, or if a kid has a birthday, we can take the day off. We can turn a trip to Yellowstone into a school field trip, and go to the museum / library / movies when everyone else is in school. But I’m not a radical homeschooler, and I feel better when we meet goals and finish things. So my kids are expected to complete certain tasks, and reach a certain level of doneness by the end of the school year. Miss K needed to finish her math, but I liked how E. handled it. He let her vent off steam in her room for a while – and honestly, it gave him some drama-free time with the other kids for a bit. Then, he went into her room, sat in the rocking chair, and after a little chat about her emotions, they worked on her math together, in her bedroom.
She was happier after that, though the sign is still on her door.
We’re not always great at these things. Sometimes a kid lashes out, and I lash back, and in this scenario I always lose. Kids do not give you a break when your back is aching and you have HAD it up to HERE. We’re not big yellers either, but it’s funny, our kids will call a frustrated voice yelling. “You yelled at me,” N. will say with big, sad eyes. I didn’t yell. Not by a long shot, but I said something in an aggravated / frustrated / annoyed / worn out tone.
I think the point is that however I said whatever I said made them FEEL yelled at. Miss K’s main complaint was that daddy yelled at her. He didn’t. He used a stern voice and her full name which granted, does signal that we are losing patience, but that’s how he made her feel. Is it rational? No, but often neither are grown ups when we get our feelings hurt.
So I don’t know where I’m going with this. I guess I feel chatty this morning after a week-long absence from this space. I’ve been working a lot, juggling a few side jobs in addition to my regular work, which extends my hours in either direction and leaves little time for much else. We also started busting out the hall bathroom renovations Saturday, which I will bore you with tomorrow. (Spoiler, it didn’t take five years!)