Last year at this time, Sadie was 3. This year, predictably enough, she is 4. Last year, she wasn't interested in school. This year she is.
Benny needs my almost constant attention when he's doing his school. Beyond the teaching of new concepts, he also needs help and encouragement in word and gesture as he's doing... anything. Put your finger under the next one Benny. What is this question asking you? Etc. He can't be left on his own to read a chapter of a book -- I have to listen and remind him to keep going. He can't be left to finish a page of math, or practice his violin. There are also a lot of things we're doing right now where I just need to be involved, like the elections class.
Now, I don't grudge him any of this time, obviously. I've tried rewarding him for working independently, I've tried setting time limits and natural consequences (if you're not done with this by 10:00 we can't go to the YMCA), and I've tried punishments for failure to perform (if you can't do this math on the computer, I'm taking away your Roller Coaster Tycoon 3 disk). I have just determined that it's not a decision he makes to be inattentive and unfocused, it's just what's going on in his head. The unfortunate thing about setting time limits and natural consequences is that Sadie then also gets punished.
Speaking of Sadie. She wants to do school this year. Desperately. She asks every day to practice her violin, do her math, read. I have her on Right Start kindergarten math, and we're doing phonics, and we're reading together. I need to be there with her when she's doing her lessons, obviously, because she's four.
So, I have two kids doing multiple lessons every day, and I have to be there to supervise all of it, and suddenly instead of "We don't spend much time at the kitchen table," we're spending a lot of time at tables, or next to each other on the sofa, or on the floor in the front room, or whatever -- doing school. This is not what I imagine for us.
The other new development this year, with Sadie a four-year-old and Benny an eight-year-old, is that they both have their own violin, they both have their own dance, they each have their friends and -- the "baby" is not just a tagalong anymore, she has her own agenda and activities and life.
I'm tired. I want them to have free time to play and chill. I feel like I'm drowning in school.
I need an unschooler to kick me in the head and say, "Step away from the lessons."
I need an experienced schooler of multiple children to say, "It gets easier and more normal and less time consuming."
I need someone to say, loudly, "Putting one of them in school is not an option."
I know that part of it is all the other stuff I've put on myself that's heavy -- editing novels for people, doing web sites for the dance studio, volunteering at church and violin, doing political work, this, that, and the other thing. I am trying to eliminate a few things -- the Bash will be over in a month, and I'm quitting the novel editing, and eventually the ballet web site will be done, and the elections class and canvassing will be over on November 4. Maybe at that point everything will just look more open. But then there's Nanowrimo and Christmas and, and, and.
Thanks for listening. Maybe I just needed to stomp around and yell about it so that I can take a deep breath and get on with it.
We have our house, our health, our gorgeous children, our glamorous interests, and we are never, ever, ever, bored. This is something to be happy about, right?