Wednesday, September 3, 2014

homeschooling is not utopian bliss; OR how yogurt can ruin your life

Most homeschool days, tiny bluebirds land on my pillow and gently wake me by caressing my rosy, well-rested cheek with their downy heads while singing sweet morning songs. My feet gently pad along the hallway to the kitchen where my personal barista waits for me, latte in hand. I then open well-organized folders with thoughtful, dynamic, and (obviously!) fun lesson plans. I arrange the manipulatives, I draw funny cartoons explaining the lessons we will cover for the day (the kids LOVE these), and I find my emotional and spiritual center by reciting the entire book of Psalms that the kids and I memorized last year (what a super duper homeschool activity that was!)
Then the kids skip joyfully from their rooms, eat a healthy gluten-free breakfast, and begin their assignments without hesitation after they feed and care for the homeless animals they rescued from the pound for their Biology unit. Hearty laughter over difficult math can be heard from the dining room (That silly Algebra is so funny!!!). Skillfull syntactic jokes run amok in the living room as the boys compare the ten-page epic poems they composed yesterday. My kindergartner tires of her advanced Latin exercises and pulls out her copy of Mere Christianity to take a mental break. (CS Lewis makes such a great kindergarten worldview teacher!) By noon, they have finished all their work and are asking for tomorrow's lessons to fill their spare time. Instead, we go serve at the soup kitchen and crochet dolls for sick children out of yarn from our old sweaters.

Yep. That's pretty much what it's like around here.

Except for when it's never like that- which is, like, every single freaking day. Because homeschooling your kids is hard and messy and looks more like this for us:

I wake up at 7:00 and drag out to the living room. I read my Bible and beg Jesus to help me, again today, to NOT DIE while explaining Singapore math to my third grader. The kids flounder out of their rooms and this is their morning greeting for the woman who bore them in her womb: "I don't want to do any schoolwork today." {Magnifique!} I make lists of all their lessons and assignments and hand them out. My third, fourth, and fifth graders cry when they see theirs because their day involves cursive writing, a composition, AND thirty-five math problems. My kindergartner brags about how short her list is compared to the older kids. {I then restrain the older kids from attacking her while she smugly colors a unicorn.} 
Then school starts and I say the following phrases 10,876 times in the next six hours: 

Please just do your next assignment.
Use proper pencil grip!
No throwing books/comic books/pencils/people.
No hitting people.
No biting people.
Stop fighting.
No eating yogurt on the sofa.
No spitting yogurt on the sofa.
Give me the yogurt.
No, this is not the worst day ever. (At least not yet.)
If you're angry, you can go to your room to calm down.
Please don't interrupt me while I teach your brother.
No, math is not the worst thing ever invented. {Note: Plan unit called Worst Inventions Ever.}
Someone tell me they love me. Right now. Or else.
Mommy is going to her room to take a break.
No, you can't have something to eat- again. Besides, I threw all the yogurt away.
I love you. Do your work.
We need Jesus, you guys. Someone pray for us!
Eventually I lie down on the sofa with a bowl of chocolate and say this: Let's just call it a day. 

This is all shocking, we realize.


And we limp across the finish line; to cleaning the massive mess in the kitchen, shelving 124 books, wiping the yogurt off the sofa, and going outside for a breath of fresh air and a soul reboot. Ta-da!!! {I know, you all totally want to homeschool your kids now, don't you?}

Somehow, along the way, my kids learn to do complicated math, read amazing books that broaden their worlds, speak French, classify sentences, memorize historical documents and beautiful poems, write in cursive, and generally finish the school year LIKE A BOSS. All the while, I am in it with them, loving them, correcting them, helping them, crying with them, quitting and restarting with them, and it is an education we build together one arduous day at a time.

Most afternoons, when the insanity subsides, I love that we homeschool. Even so, we may send them to public school tomorrow. Because seriously, how much yogurt will be spilled before it is all just too much?

Lawsy. We really do need Jesus, you guys, and maybe some bluebirds to wake us up in the mornings. Or just more chocolate. Maybe bluebirds who deliver chocolate? Now that would work wonderfully.

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