homeschooling, homemaking, homesteading...home.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

In which I gain a little humility

So, earlier this week I had had one of *those* days. You know the kind; just nonstop and energy-draining. It happens. It happens with kids a lot. As usual, the fallout was that I crashed with J at bedtime, and left the mountain of dishes until the morning.

When I awoke the next morning to finish dealing with the previous day's mess before the current one's took over, I shuffled out to the kitchen and it was worse. To wit, someone had removed the drain plugs from both sides of the double sink and then rinsed rice into the drains (lovely). Also, ALL of the remaining clean dishtowels were in a sopping pile on the counter. "SEVEN?" I muttered not-under-my-breath. "SEVEN!?!" Not only did I have a slightly more messy kitchen to contend with, but now I was out of frickin' dishtowels.

I considered just lighting a match and walking away.

Okay, not really. But I was grouchy.

Because I figured that the TeenBoy (16yo stepson) had done some middle of the night kitchen-destroying. Or my husband had inexplicably felt the need to use up seven dishtowels before he left for work that morning. I don't know. I was just slamming around with my woe-is-Mom little stormcloud over my head and thinking bitter, self-pitying thoughts about the Inconsiderate People with whom I share space.

A little while later, while I was sulking and avoiding the kitchen, C woke up. He woke up happy. He came out, all smiles, and said, "Did you see what I did, Mom?"

He went on to explain that since I was so tired the night before, he thought he'd surprise me by scrubbing the crock from the slow cooker. Which he had. By hand. And it was sparkling and perfect.

And then [twist knife] he said, "I'm sorry I used so many towels. I spilled some water."

And I felt, oh, about this high.

Although truth be told, my heart kinda felt this big. Because my unintentionally messy so loving and kind.

Friday, June 14, 2013

Test Results

Because we homeschool in Pennsylvania and T was the age of a typical third-grader this past academic year, I had to administer a standard achievement test and submit the results as part of our portfolio for the school district.

Because he is in a class of one, this was our first test of any kind. Tests are typically used to assess comprehension and mastery. If you have a class of one and are not sure whether a subject has been covered throroughly or whether your student grasps the concept, there is something drastically wrong.

Because a big part of my decision to homeschool has to do with being in-tune with the individual and remaining mindful/aware of my children's developmental readiness to handle/perform various tasks, we are following a delayed academic plan. In other words, I'm not concerned with whether they are learning in parallel with their age-peers, just with whether they are making healthy progress.

In other words, we did the test because we had to. And although I was curious (and a bit nervous) about the results, I am not putting undue weight on them. I am aware of what we've covered and what remains to be covered. I know what he "gets". I know what he still needs help with.

But we did the test. And today we received the results.

And he asked to see them.

I was concerned about that. I don't want him to tie his self-worth to a score (like, ahem, his mother did and took decades to let go of). I didn't want learning to become performance-driven, and I didn't want him to be discouraged.

But he wanted to know. So I opened the envelope and we reviewed the results together.

As I knew before we started the test, and as I confirmed during the testing, he was all over the map. Some areas, he was well above average. Some areas, we hadn't covered at all and he guessed with confidence but kind of bombed anyway. The overall score was a nice solid "average".

I couched the results in protective, explanatory language. "Remember, this is the part I said not to worry about because we never did that..."

Didn't matter.

Because my son? My beautiful, joyful, innocent, enthusiastic, well-adjusted, confident son...cheered. And did a happy little dance. And with sparkling eyes, announced, "I did GREAT, Mom!!"

Yes. Yes, you did.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

A quick rant about semantics

We have a toddler again. We often watch toddler programming on television. Even on PBS, there are commercials for, many of which include wording to set up the product pitch along the theme of "my child didn't like learning". Or the flip side of the sentiment, "Now he loves learning!"

Every time I hear this, I want to rip my hair out and throw it at the screen. (But I don't, because that would  be certifiably insane.)

I can't think of anyone, of any age, who doesn't like learning.

I can think of plenty of people who don't enjoy/do well with/pursue academics or pedantic/forced instruction and related practice.

And if you don't know the difference, well, anything else I could say on the subject is not for you, because you will not get it.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013


Today I declared an end to the worksheets and the beginning of a summer break: a time when after a year of increasing paranoia and stress and second-guessing about the volume, nature, and quality of our learning, I force myself to just stop and take a deep breath and regroup.

I want to apologize for neglecting my blog, and also pile on the excuses for why that happened.

I want to do a recap of our school year, and muse on what worked and what didn't.

I want to try to catch up on EVERYTHING that has been going on around here: learning-stuff and just-living-stuff, and everything that I had Deep Thoughts about but didn't get around to exploring over the past few months.

I want to make a set of resolutions for what I plan to do in the near, and extended, future.

But see, that's just the point. Right now I don't need any of that. Right now I need to simply put those last few worksheets into the binder, print out my cover letter, and wait for the test results so I can send the whole shebang off to the school district. And then I need to just Walk. Away.

Do none of that.

Have no agenda.

And stop giving a damn about whoever might be judging me/us for it.

We've earned a break. Now if I can just make myself RELAX during it, I will win.