Monday, November 12, 2007

Mom's Behaving Badly

Right after "Why do you homeschool?", the second-most-often-asked question I get from the non-homeschooling curious is, "How do you do that?" Today, I'm sorry to say, I would probably answer, "Badly". (Or "Poorly", if I care how my grammar sounds.) But "Badly" is probably more the word, since "bad" is what I would call the behavior of any child who threw the Science book across the room, as I did today.

See, I've always had this grandiose theory about how Science should really be taught. Textbooks? Anathema! Fill-in-the-blanks? Perish the thought! I combine Kyla and Collin's science into one. I plan my Science program for the upcoming year some time between March and August. And then I buy marvelous books, a few kits and some supplies and guides for experiments.

The experiments are usually the first to go. Geez, how I hate doing them! How I hate looking around the house for a metal brad that makes the doo-dad spin on the ram-a-lam-a-ding-dong. And it may be that empty soda bottles lie around most homes, but I don't have one, unless you include an ancient Sierra Mist, still full, sitting in the Dining Room buffet cabinet, left over from a party I had in 2004.

One year, I even bought a kit from a major supplier that did include practically everything you need to do an experiment a week all year long. But after I spent about 8 weeks demonstrating every possible neato thing a magnet can do, I got bored and canned that, too.

Today, I opened up the kit I had bought to make a volcano. This was to enrich our Earth Sciences study we've been doing. As I read the directions about what to do with the plaster, I froze up. I'm not mixing up plaster today. Prob'ly not tomorrow, either. Or any day after that. Basically, they can do this right after they purchase their own home.

So, I went for the one element in our Science program that is not so easily influenced by my lack of inertia. The book. It's a nice Usborne Internet-Linked book I bought at a discount. The "Volcanoes" chapter now firmly behind us, I prepared to introduce them to "Climate". So, we sat on the couch and I began to read about the earth's atmosphere. Mason, however, wanted to sit on my lap. But only for 16 seconds. Before I had read through three paragraphs of incomprehensible babble about air currents, he had caused 27 different calamities. Collin was on my right, and although I had sent him to the bathroom twice today to brush his teeth, there was still a noxious green cloud wafting towards my nose from his direction. Mason was sent to time-out, right between the Troposphere and the Stratosphere. While in time-out, he emptied half a tube of A&D ointment onto his "boo-boo" on his toe (and everything within a 2-foot-radius). After I cleaned up that minor disaster and brought Mason back into the good graces of family life, I attempted once again to illuminate my progeny regarding atmosphere. You ever read through a few lines of text and have a simultaneous dialogue going on inside that goes, "I might as well be reading to the tuna fish, because if any of this makes any sense to them or is in any way memorable to them at all, I'd be astonished!" After that bit of cheery self-talk, it really only took one more squabble between Collin, fighting to remain in suffocating proximity to me and Mason, trying to unseat him, for me to go ballistic. The Usborne Encyclopedia of Planet Earth went whizzing across the room, demonstrating a little "air current" of my own. "FORGET IT! Enough! What am I WASTING MY TIME for???!" I fumed at my bewildered young. Mason was unceremoniously air-lifted off for a nap that I need more than he does. Kyla and Collin just exchanged looks in astonished silence. (Until the UPS guy came, which is some sort of small thrill for them.)

In all probability, the error was my own for trying to do this part while Mason was up. It's better done while he naps, experience has shown. Actually, nothing described here was rare, except for my own tantrum at the end. I guess we all have a breaking point.

Right now, textbooks are looking very attractive.

Friday, November 2, 2007


I've had two main wishes for most of my life. They are mutually exclusive; if I had either one, the other would be moot. Here they are:

1) That life would slow down. That it would be 20% plan and 80% wingin' it. That there would be nothing urgent for several months.


2) That I could just accept that life doesn't slow down. That I could be happy with 80% plan and 20% wingin' it. That I could be comfortable with everything being urgent all the time.

It seems that since puberty, I've vascillated between feeling competant and on-the-ball, to crashing and just wishing I could get off the ride. I'll have all these great ideas and be like, "Yeah! Yeah! Yeah!" and then a few weeks later, I'm all, "Man, would everybody just GO AWAY?!" I wonder what it would be like to just be level.

And really, I know what the problem actually is. It's not that it IS urgent all the time, it's that I make it that way. See, every mom has to get Halloween costumes together for her kids. But my resident perfectionist cannot bear to spend $35.00 for a glued-together, no-hem, trash-looking Wal-mart costume. So instead, I spend an unmentionable amout of cash purchasing white sparkle taffeta, irridescent blue fabric with moons and stars, sheer sparkle fabric for the sleeves, white cording, lining fabric, interfacing, thread and a pattern. Then, I spend dozens of hours crafting a "Moon Fairy" costume suitable for Broadway. Okay, maybe not Broadway. But it was freakin' gorgeous!

I do get a rush of extreme pleasure after I've indulged my stratespheric standards and come out with something amazing. But while I'm sewing in the Dining Room at 11:49pm, I wonder what the heck is wrong with me. Doctors have perscriptions for just this purpose!

I don't know what the tragedy would be if I had the kids wear crappy costumes for Halloween. Or if I made Hamburger Helper for dinner one night. Or even if I said, "Sorry, folks. I'm not making dinner tonight. Look around. There's food here." What if I brought the car home with barely enough gas to get to the station the next day? What if I wrote a big check without any idea what the balence was in my account?? WHAT if - this is hard to imagine -but WHAT IF I failed to have a back-up quart of Half-n-Half??? The possibility that there might not be enough cream left for everyone to have coffee as they, that's rebellious! Just think of the chaos that would ensue!

It was only in the last few years that I stopped much caring whether I showed up perfectly on time for things. Actually, it hardly ever matters if you're late. If the family picnic is at 2:00, what happens if you come at 2:20? I discovered that nothing much happens. (Well, there's bound to be someone who is disgruntled about it, but that's family for ya.)

Maybe I'll just chip away at all these things that I think are so urgent and when I'm 87 and it couldn't possibly matter anymore, I'll finally be relaxed. So, I'll try to let things go a little. Maybe I'll simplify dinner. Maybe I'll turn down a request or two. But I'm NOT stooping to junky costumes! That would just be crazy!