I’ve got a kid who recently (in the past six months or so) convinced me to show him how to play M-O-N-O-P-O-L-Y, that big game that has been laying dormant in the bottom of the game cabinet for years because a) no child was old enough to play it and b) mom didn’t have five hours to spend sitting around bankrupting friends and family all in the name of fun. Nevertheless, he found it and begged me to teach him how to play. He has quite the math mind so he caught on quickly, and under his father’s tutelage (I taught him the rules; Dad taught him how to go for broke) quickly became a real estate pro and deemed himself, “Moneybags Cavalieri”… to go with his game piece of choice. Continue reading
December 3rd I was playing outside with my children after dinner. It was one of those odd unseasonably warm 60 degree days and I had been a bear of a mom all day. Dad had an evening rehearsal downtown so I tried to redeem myself (and the day) by changing things up and playing outside in the dark… in December. The boys found a long, fairly substantial “limb” that had fallen (or been dragged — I wouldn’t put anything past them) into our yard. They brought it in the driveway and invented a game where one person slowly spun the limb in a circle on the ground while the rest of us jumped over it when it came by. This was great fun and had us laughing and actually enjoying the fact that we were all related and living in the same space… until… Mom jumped ON the limb instead of OVER the limb. It hurt; I went down hard; I woke up the next morning unable to walk.
It’s now been a good three weeks since baseball season ended at our house, and I have to admit that I’m a little sad, for a lot of little reasons. They play the game, but I get to watch, observe and learn so much about my boys from the bleachers. As Mom and teacher, I do a lot of coaching, practicing and ordering around during the year. But April – June I get to do more watching and listening than instructing. This gives me incredible insight into who they are as individuals, as boys, as teammates. They might be brothers, but they approach baseball (and let’s face it…) LIFE differently. Continue reading
This morning’s story in our first grade reader was a play: “The Three Little Pigs”. Since I knew the little guys would try to push their way into what we were doing anyway, I decided to open the theatrical doors of learning and let e-ver-y-bod-y have a hand in this family re-enactment.
It took the better part of an hour. There were breaks for potty emergencies, fighting interruptions, pauses to give Daddy a kiss and hug good-bye, and cries of “You’re not doing it right!” But that is reality and that is okay. There is no Pinterest pretty perfection in our house. There IS a lot of imagination and making do with what we can find. Here’s a glimpse of how it looked.
The word “never” gets thrown around our house a lot lately:
“You NEVER do anything just with me!”
“I NEVER get to pick what show we’re gonna watch!”
“You NEVER come outside with us!”
It’s not uncommon. After all, they are at an egocentric stage of life. Everything is about them. But they are also prone to exaggeration and hyperbole. Everything is in extremes: the best, the worst, always, never. This, although also normal, is far more disturbing to me because they see (and hear) this behavior *in me*. I have been the queen of exaggeration since I was little myself. I can vividly recall ranting to my Dad when he handed me the garbage bag for my weekly collecting chore that “I HATED this job more than anything else in the entire world, and I would rather DIE than collect one. more. piece. of. trash.” (I’m rolling my eyes just recalling that… and sending out a special blessing to my persevering parents who did in fact make me suck it up and continue to collect the garbage until I left for college.) Sadly though, I did not leave exaggeration in my youth; the habit has continued to plague me into adulthood and tends to pour forth when I am tired, angry, worried or just plain overwhelmed.
Last week on our trip to the library we ran into some neighbors. It took the boys no more than a quick thirty second “Hi” before they were all ready to take over the train table and then put on a puppet show. As they made their plans in not-the-most-library-appropriate-voices I made sure to stop my first grader and remind him, “Now when you’re done, don’t forget to grab a new A-Z mystery and choose three books from the Easy Reader shelves that YOU want to read. Oh, and don’t let me forget to look for the next book in the ‘Little House’ series.” My neighbor looked at me apologetically and said, “Oh, I’m sorry. You’re here to do school, aren’t you?” I paused for a moment and then answered that we had finished our morning seat work at home so we were here to pick out new books, get DVDs, and (yes, it was okay to)… play.
Her question was innocent, and my answer was true, but not all-encompassing. One of the hardest things about homeschooling is talking about it in a way that makes sense to other people. When most people hear the word “school” it conjures up an 8am – 3pm classroom full of same-aged peers learning from one teacher. Our school just doesn’t fit into that box. I was not using the library as a place to sit and do workbooks, but it was definitely part of our school day.
During one of the first homeschooling meetings I ever attended, the speaker said that above all (curriculum, routines, social opportunities, etc.) homeschooling is about relationships. That comment both comforted and frightened me. I wanted to have a close relationship with all of my children, but I knew that being with them ALL day, EVERY day would bring with it untold challenges in my patience and our communication. At the time, I didn’t even consider the ramifications of sibling relationships. Rookie mistake. Continue reading
Although it seems everybody else had today off, we treated this Monday like any other, holiday or no. I knew I wanted to address Martin Luther King today, but I struggled in my planning as I wanted it to be appropriately serious yet not particularly graphic. The hearts of a four and six year old can easily identify with the injustice of unfairness and the shock of things not being equal. There is time enough to show how human nature can embrace evil and view life, any life, as a target for hatred and violence. Today I wanted to teach a little history, reach their hearts through history, and show them a real life hero (particularly one withOUT a super suit and cape.)
My four year old declared the other night at dinner that he loved Santa, our family AND Jesus. I replied that of course he could love all three, but perhaps the order of the three should be changed. The greatest commandment after all is to love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your mind and with all your strength. He nodded in agreement and replied, “Yeah Mom, but I also love Santa with all my heart, with all my mind and with all my strength.”
We laughed. He’s four and the magic of Santa IS all around, but so is the presence of Christ. Emmanuel, God WITH us.
I’ve never watched an entire episode of Dora the Explorer, mostly because we’re more partial to Diego around here, but I do know the infamous map song… probably more from the Brian Regan stand up routine than anything else. It’s a catchy and mindlessly repetitive song, but if you crescendo into the ending (and throw a little hip into it) it can seriously pack a powerful punch.
I am learning to embrace the power of this little ditty and I often sing it to myself (with “Mom” filled in for “map” in my version of course) as I make decisions or change directions in mothering and homeschooling based solely on the fact that I’m the Mom and I can.