I think I've mentioned on here before that I rarely make any resolutions on New Year's Eve. I don't remember when it started, but for the longest time I've smugly watched all the good intentions around me crumble and flicker and eventually fade away as the end of January rolls 'round, knowing that I've still got time. Having a birthday at the beginning of February gives me the distinct advantage of starting my new year well after the tinsel and bits of wrapping paper have been dislodged from the vacuum cleaner filter. (I am well aware that I may be in the distinct minority when it comes to people who do vs don't dislodge bits of tinsel and wrapping paper from the vacuum cleaner filter. I am also aware that vacuum cleaner filters can be replaced. And, yes, I may be overusing the words "filter", "vacuum", and "cleaner" here.). So I wait until the last week of January rolls around and that's when I start thinking about what I want to do differently and how much better I'm going to be for the next 365.
So here we are, last week of January. Time to get resolute.
First a little catch-up. We had an amazing time in Egypt for Christmas (story and pictures soon to be posted on our travel blog... See, I'm terrible about posting everywhere!), then enjoyed a completely chilled out week at home before the official beginning of 2015. On the 5th of January, local schools were back in session. Our new homeschool curriculum had arrived (early! Which totally screwed up my pre-plan planning, but that's a post for another time. Hooray for cooperation between the USPS and the Royal Mail!) and I had spent some of our completely chilled out time to go through the materials and lessons and think about all the ways this was going to work, so on the 5th we began, too.
The first two and a half weeks were relatively uneventful. We developed a routine, got familiar with the materials, settled into the lessons. All in all, things were going very well. Positive vibes and butterflies and unicorns and Together We Can Do Anything. In fact, we did everything together. Bonded. Reconnected. Sunshine and kittens.
What do you call that phase that you go through after the honeymoon phase? When things stop vibing and those things you thought were butterflies turn out to be clothes-eating moths and the unicorns start farting and all the sunshine and kittens wind up in the blender? You know what that's called? Last Thursday.
Last Wednesday afternoon, Aaron handed me an assignment that could have been about Ancient Egypt if I had asked him to recreate a manuscript using hieroglyphics. The actual task was to make a list of three things Jackie Robinson did to "open the door" for other African Americans after his (ultimately) successful career with the Brooklyn Dodgers. A list that he could make using 1)the text we had just read together, or 2) the list we had just typed together and printed out about the text we had just read together, or 3) the list in the back of the book we had just read together and discussed ad nauseum in order to make it simple for him to create a three item list. I know that he doesn't like to write, so I try very hard to modify his assignments so that if the writing part isn't the overall point to the lesson, he doesn't have to stress over the discomfort and irritation of putting pencil to paper. (Yes, I know, dyspraxia is a real thing. And I know he really has some dyspraxia. And, contrary to popular belief, I don't stay up nights thinking of ways to ruin his life and make him write things until his hand falls off in a bloody mass of tortured appendages on his writing paper. I DO occasionally stay up nights thinking about ways to ruin his life by coercing him into taking showers, eating minuscule fragments of onions, and putting his clothes into the laundry bags, but I'm not so much into bloody stumps. Judge me if you must.) So, when he handed me this crumpled, pencil pocked, hole ridden, eraser smudged scribbled mess as his final copy? I made him redo it.
The second copy was actually legible.
I complimented him on the second copy (and the lack of moaning whilst producing it), and he beamed at me and confided,"I never really tried much to do my best work at school. I knew the teachers would just expect it from me for the rest of the time and I really didn't want to be bothered."
Which is how I came to figure out that unbeknownst to the leading astronomers at the time, there was a pronounced and cataclysmic planetary disruption almost exactly 10 years ago. A disruption so profound that it must have breached the space-time continuum because somehow Josh's and my DNA combined in such a manner that we created
AN UNDERACHIEVER. (Dun dun dun...)
I felt it my duty and obligation to inform my evil spawn "Well, I'm your teacher now and now that I know your little secret, I will be expecting work of this quality from now on."
Thursday = game on
I think we managed to finish one assignment. A typed one.
Friday = overtime
Really? He thinks he's going to out stubborn me?
On Saturday, an early morning flurry of cooperation led to the completion of the outstanding assignments from Thursday and Friday just before leaving the house for swimming lessons (compliments of the reminder that Saturday afternoon is Daddy time, but would have to be foregone if school work wasn't finished). (Please note: Josh and I are still very much happily married. I just push the two of them out of the house once a week so I can clean in peace and sing bad 80's pop songs at the top of my lungs. As that's not a very catchy title, I've shortened it to "Daddy Time".)
On to Sunday. (Josh chose Sunday's as his long training day (Ironman again. Another another post), so we start our school week on Sunday instead of Monday. It helps to have something to do other than look at each other while Josh is out on his multi-hour bike rides and allows us to break the school week into two smaller, more manageable chunks with a day off in between. Also? We are heathens.) What can I say about Sunday? Oh, Sunday. By noon the walls had started closing in on me. Aaron had:
-rolled across every inch of the floor in our designated school room diagonally
-shoved a pencil up his nose no fewer than eleventy-billion times
-squawked like a duck, chicken, and pterodactyl for no fewer than 15 minutes, rotating through each in turn and increasing the volume on each rotation
-eaten the graphite from four different pencils
-turned the links of his tangle toy into a decive that curved precisely along his jawline to stretch from his mouth and hook neatly on his ear
-made a cave for himself under his beanbag chair and announced: "if I can't see you, you can't see me!"
I think there was probably more. He is quite inventive and I hate not to give him his due, but my mind had melted into oozy puddle in my feet at this point so I may have missed a few activities.
We did not finish lessons on Sunday.
Monday started out where Sunday left off. I'm ashamed to say I snapped somewhere along about 11:30 am. My voice reached a depth and a softness that I didn't even realize I possessed and I told my darling child "you need to go to your room right now before I do something I will regret later." Smoke must have come out of my nostrils because he was so transfixed that he didn't even argue. (Note to self: learn to make smoke come out of nose on at will.) I quietly and calmly followed him up the stairs where I then proceeded to remove everything from his bedroom except for his bed and his wardrobe. The latter remained only because it is anchored to the wall. I suggested he enjoy his "day off" and went back down stairs. I'm not sure exactly what happened next, but the laundry is done, the house is sparkling, and I've got 4 variations of a daily schedule for us to follow for the next few weeks, complete with rubrics to detail when and how the lessons on those schedules might be marked complete. I might have gotten a jump on Christmas cards thru 2027.
Today things went much better. There was an attempt to argue and modify the math lesson set in front of him, but when I told him he was free to do the lesson as presented or spend the day in his room, he (grumbled but eventually) decided to go with it. We finished all of our scheduled lessons, had time left over for "PE", and still managed to get groceries and make dinner on time. We'll stick to the same plan tomorrow, but in all honesty, I don't expect things to go as smoothly. If the first attempt at a new schedule/plan/routine goes well, I can almost always count on the second day being peppered (or smothered) with resistance as Aaron tries to modify it and make it his own. I think it would be fair to summarize it thusly: Loss of control is not his thing.
That's okay. I've got a few new books, a full season of The Good Wife, three blogs to catch up on, and plenty of phone calls to make.
If I get all that done, I've still got those resolutions to make.