Sometimes I sit and stare at the computer blankly. I try to think about what I could write but my mind is still stuck in the whirlwind that is the day’s events. I’m thinking about how one of my children complained when asked to do reading today, swearing that he could not possibly read any assigned book but only the one’s he chooses for himself. I stick stubbornly to my decision that he must read one of three I’ve recommended to him because I want him to realize he can do things he doesn’t want to. When eventually his complaints died down and he picked up the book, he sat giggling cheerfully, looking up repeatedly to announce what a wonderful book it was and how he likes the characters. I gambled that it would be that way. I was pretty sure it would be. I know my kids, know their tastes, know what types of things would interest them. (This is, I think, the most important skill homeschooling.) But still the fuss before is draining.
A computer game introduced my children to the characters “the vowelless knights.” In the game the children have to fill in the missing vowels from proverbs. They have taken over the idea, attempting to apply it to their spelling lessons. “Spell ‘argue'” I say, and the sheet instead says “rg aue.” If I believe that they know where the vowels should be interspersed I don’t press the issue, believing it probably takes more mental energy to write “mnt iue” instead of “minute.” I remember the days when they used to insist on doing math in Roman numerals, or their creative writing in pig-latin. Some days it is easier to just laugh and enjoy it and other days I wish, couldn’t just one thing be done easily, with no fuss or complications? Just one?
One of my children insists that schoolwork goals are written out ahead of time. He’s worried that I’m going to just keep adding more things if it isn’t prewritten. So I write out the goals on Sunday night and inevitably there will be a morning soon where the children spend the morning doing something much more worthwhile. Today my nine year old was reading a Life of Fred book that mentions the poems of Christina Rossetti, and we had to stop and look up the poems mentioned, because he’s interested in it and because I’ve been talking constantly about Christina Rossetti. (I’ll blog about her eventually). Then he went on to skim through a comic calculus book and was asking about inverse fractions. Meanwhile his younger brother is sitting reading. My written goals have to be thrown out or at least amended because the stuff they’re doing is too good to interrupt with schoolwork, but by how much? And how do I work to convince them that yes, they have to do all of the schoolwork, when on other days I just look at it and say “no, you really don’t have to do all of this…”. And how do I make those decisions while accompanying the three year old up to the washroom and trying to answer the phone, and each of the boys trying to convince me that I’ve neglected him more than his brother?
I’m exhausted. I want a holiday. And I know that some people would say to take a holiday, or just unschool. We take plenty of holidays from schoolwork and we can’t unschool. My children need the mental stimulation or they turn on each other like wild dogs. One of them said something to that effect the other day, that he is like a sponge that just has to keep learning new things or he’ll go crazy. I’m like that too. I need my content. I need to be throwing myself into learning something else. Right now it is learning about Christina Rossetti and the pre-Raphelite Brotherhood. A few weeks ago it was the Pied Piper stories. I don’t know what it will be a few weeks from now, I only know that having something that I can throw myself into mentally keeps me sane amongst the never ending challenges of homeschooling.