I’ve been feeling wistful lately. On the surface, homeschooling is going very well – Alex is learning tons, she seems to like all of our materials, and we both enjoy having some uninterrupted time for school now that Colin is going to nursery school three mornings a week. On the other hand, I feel like our academics have gotten a lot barer-bones than I would like them to be. I’m acutely aware of the art projects, the nature study, the religious education, the read-alouds, the field trips, the enrichment projects we aren’t doing because I’m always rushing off to work. I think about all the social activities for homeschoolers, which are supposed to provide peer support to children and parents both. Our nanny takes Alex to those, when she goes.
Well, I thought, there’s no reason you can’t loosen up on the academics and make more time for projects and fun activities and bonding time. She’s certainly far enough ahead. Take a step back from the lessons – see the forest, not the trees.
So this morning when Colin asked if we could go to the playground, even though Alex and I had only done about ten minutes of school, I said yes. We walked the half-mile there and back, stopping along the way to pick up beautiful leaves until my pockets were full.
“When we get back, let’s do a craft with the leaves,” I suggested. “We can iron them between sheets of wax paper, and the wax will preserve them so they’ll always be beautiful.” They were enthusiastic. We spread the leaves out on the kitchen table, divided them up without squabbling, and started arranging them on on wax paper. I light-heartedly decided to make one for myself. I took the picture at the top of this post. As I framed it in the viewfinder, I was already mentally composing a blog post about how great it is to have more balance in our homeschool.
The children finalized their arrangements and crowded against me to see me work the magic. I ironed and ironed, but the wax. Never. Melted. Eventually they wandered away, bored, while I continued to sweat and (inwardly, I promise) curse over the iron to utterly no avail.
I gave up. We turned back to school subjects. Math, Latin, spelling…
“Is it almost lunchtime?” Alex whined.
“Yes, we’re just going to finish spelling and then we’ll have lunch.”
“Wow, this morning is just taking forever. I can’t believe how slow it’s going.”
“Well, remember, we went to the playground and did a craft, so school got pushed later,” I said carefully. “Usually you’re used to doing school quickly, so I can go to work.”
She flopped down on the floor. “I hate Thursdays,” she said. “The time just goes so slowly.”
A thirty-nine-year-old doesn’t get teary because her kid wishes she’d just go to work already and not pad the school day with activities and bonding moments. I took a deep breath. We finished spelling, and I went in to fix them lunch.
Here’s the thing: we are the people we are, and not the people we fantasize about being. This is the homeschool I have. These are the flaws and failings that I have. Imagining the great things we could do and the great connections we could make if our situation were different is… entirely beside the point. This is the life that we have. It doesn’t necessarily make for picture-perfect blog posts full of wisdom and satisfaction.
I’m tired tonight.