8 a.m.: Wailing and screeching are coming from the living room. I close my eyes tighter as I become conscious of the fact that the kids are up and not even pretending to behave like humans. I should get up. It’s a school day. Wait. Is that laughing? It’s like they are killing each other and enjoying it in there. Ugh. I grab my phone and scroll Facebook.
8:11 a.m.: My bedroom door slams against the wall as one of the twins tears through, followed closely by his snarling younger brother. Next comes the closet door slam. One holds it shut, the other tries to pry it open. I envision the scene when their dad discovers the battered door and its knob lying in pieces.
I start to yell a warning to save them from themselves. But then I think, nah. Because last night I decided to start letting them deal with the natural consequences of their own actions when possible. And this lesson is just too good to pass up. They will get to pay for the door and deal with their dad. I will not get between them. Which, incidentally, is one my New Year’s resolutions.
So I just keep scrolling through Facebook and feeling slightly annoyed at all the happy moms posting about heading to their careers or even just home to fold laundry in peace and quiet.
8:17 a.m.: I can no longer pretend to be invisible. All three boys are now at the foot of my bed and tattling like traders at the New York stock exchange. Alright! I’m up! And asking the obvious:
“DId it ever occur to any of you that instead of reenacting the storming of the bastille before I got up, that you could go ahead and do your 30 minutes of reading or music practice? You complain that it takes up your afternoon free time, but what are you doing now? Or here’s an idea…breakfast. Go eat beakfast! Then I won’t have to rush you around the kitchen to get you to eat already and quit creating art on toast! It’s Friday, people. I don’t care who did what!”
I was shrill, bug-eyed, angry and vibrating, and my feet had not even hit the floor yet. An exceptional beginning to a Friday.
8:30 a.m.: They leave for the kitchen. The arguing continues. Shouts of “Fine, but I’m not eating it!” are echoing against shouts of “You clean it up!”
8:45 a.m.: The kitchen is a disaster when I muster the energy to drag into the room. They’ve actually cooked oatmeal on the stove. They have used a large filter full of coffee to make just one cup, the granules are strewn across the counter, the floor, floating in the coffee. They eat and argue.
And the groaning begins as I order them upstairs to our classroom.
9:30 a.m.: Math is underway. The “shhhshing” between the three of them is like a spit war of hissing cats. I slam my stiff cup of gritty coffee down. The sound and the unstable look in my eye gets us through the calculations.
10:35ish a.m.: “Not the bloody art of language!?” the middle child theatrically declares in his best British accent when I ask them to get out their grammar notebooks. Normally I’d laugh. But my sense of humor is like the congealed oatmeal stuck all over the stove.
Every order I give is followed by a complaint. Their writing journal prompt is to tell what brings them the most comfort. “Comfort!?,” they jest. Clearly it’s all cruel and unusual punishment here. Every question they can’t answer is hurled at me with outrage and the insistence that I never taught such as this!
For the love of printer ink, what have I been slaving away at all week? All month? All of this school year? Who have I been teaching to? Or at? Cause apparently all my effort has not met their ears, but only ricocheted off their faces and landed somewhere amongst the rubble of my well planned lessons.
As often is my mantra on my more stable days, I plead, “If we can just get through the have-tos we can get onto the “want-tos.” But wait… now they are whining about today’s science lab! And no one wants to paint cave art for history today either. How lame of me to plan that.
That is it! I’m a failure. They hate everything about homeschool and don’t remember anything I have tried to teach them anyway. I’m a cruel harpy inflicting terror with #2 pencils. And then I do the lowest thing we homeschool moms know to do when backed into a corner feeling all hope is lost.
I tell them I am taking them back to public school in the fall.
I know, right. I sort of shocked myself because, unlike the other 497 times I’d said it, this time it sounded like I meant it! And the harshness of it reflected back at me in three pairs of horrified brown eyes. Did I mean it? I was as dumb struck as they were.
I called off school for the day and sent them all to read in their rooms while I cried over my spoiled intentions. And for the rest of the afternoon and evening I wallowed in self pity. I texted random thoughts of hopelessness to my husband. The boys stayed clear mostly, but occasionally popped past me to say “I’m sorry, mom.” or “Are we really going to public school?” or “We promise to do better on Monday.”
I got fixed up and decided to crash a local homeschool group’s monthly moms-night-out. The boys were so confused when their dad got home and I jumped in the car to burn rubber out of the driveway. I think they were worried I was going to fill out papers at the local school, or worse, going on a job interview. So I left and let them stew on it.
But after I got home, had a glass of wine and a long talk with the hubs, and after getting up at a ridiculous hour to go see my boys freaking rock a swim meet this morning…..
I found some clarity in the chaos. Truths that I missed while feeling sorry for myself:
- My boys were loud and rowdy when I woke up. But they were actually having a good time together and getting along, mostly. I should get to bed earlier at night and get my butt up earlier on weekdays.
- They didn’t break the closet door.
- They made me breakfast as a peace offering. So what if it was an overdone bowl of oatmeal and a cup of coffee that would make a Cuban pucker? They had arranged blueberries very carefully atop the oatmeal and used my favorite pink mug.
- Math took some prodding, but the twins got every problem on their tests correct. The first time. And little man knows more than half of his times tables ahead of schedule.
- Though they claimed no knowledge of their grammar lessons, I refused to meet their pleas for easy answers, and in turn the info came back to them, albeit begrudgingly. But they knew it.
- And their writing journals on what comforts them most spoke to my heart. And though possibly filled with suck-up sentiments, they got to the heart of the matter which is…
- I make them the most comfortable. And therefore they feel comfortable in displaying their emotions and thoughts in the most immature and annoying ways. Because they know I love them no matter what. And I hope after I reassured them that there is no way they are going to public school while I’m around and able, that I didn’t damage any of that comfort zone.
- It was just one of those days. They weren’t feeling it. I wasn’t feeling it. They misbehaved, and in retaliation, I did too. But homeschool is working for us. They really do enjoy our time together. We all just needed some perspective. They needed to be reminded they are lucky to have me. And I needed to be reminded that they are my world, and I’ve got this, even when the coffee is bad.
Sometimes hearing others have troubled homeschool days helps us know that it’s normal to have a bad moment, or a crappy week. Misery loves company. There’s company at the link below.