Halloween is the high-water mark of my kids’ social calendar. We went trick-or-treating tonight, as we do every year, at the home of a friend who lives in a neighborhood with narrow streets and lovely close-together houses, where the residents decorate their homes and yards and many put chairs out on their front lawns, or even (as in the case of our friends) potluck tables. The number of guests varies year to year, but the tradition does not: front-lawn party, trick-or-treating with kids Boy and Girl have known as long as they can remember. We bring a dish and our friends cook hotdogs; the adults drink beer or wine and the kids play; we make the kids eat a little and then, when it’s dark, we start the trek around the neighborhood, flashlights in hand, glow bracelets on little wrists, following our wild, manic pack of Batgirls, pirate-princesses, firemen, Power Rangers, soldiers, pandas, Little Bo Peeps, superheroes, Elsas, and Tardises. We yell, ‘Wait! Don’t cross! Look both ways! Say thank you!’ craning our necks in the dark to see if we still have them all, hustling down the sidewalk after them as they run and yell to each other. Joyful in the dark. The triumph of candy booty in identical orange plastic pumpkins heavy in their hands.
Girl is currently snuggled up on the couch in the living room with me while I write this blog post and watch TV, three hours past her usual bedtime. Nowadays, if she falls asleep in the afternoon, I know she’ll be up late. She fell asleep ‘taking a break’ from cleaning up her play area. We tried to go to bed at normal time. But after a while I heard Boy pleading with her to leave him alone so he could go to sleep. I moved her to my room. I tried to get her settled but I could tell her brain was in high gear.
“Hey mom. Not just kids have mummas. Even mummas have mummas. And kids have kids. Kids have kids and kids have kids and kids have kids forever, and mummas have mummas and mummas have mummas and mummas have mummas. And fathers have fathers and fathers have fathers. It never ends. Until the world ends. How will the world end? Will things just disappear into nothing?”
But I said good night and managed to extricate myself, and had been back in the living room for maybe ten minutes when I heard crying. Anguished crying. Keening. I scurried back to my room and asked Girl what was wrong, climbed on the bed and tried to comfort her. The (weeping) gist of it was:
“I don’t want to be five anymore….I used to be the littlest, and now I’m the biggest.”
“Everywhere I go now I’m the biggest. I used to be little. And I know how to do things now, like bake things by myself.”
I didn’t tell her that she is actually terrible at baking things by herself. What I did do is ask if she wanted a break from doing big girl things, and she nodded. I told her that tomorrow I could just take care of her like when she was little, if she’d like. And she immediately relaxed. And we said good night again.
And ten minutes later she was back in the living room.
So couch it is. We have a long-standing agreement that she shall hide her face if I tell her to because something ‘scary’ is on the TV. Nevertheless I’m playing Modern Family so as not to accidentally traumatize the child. Hopefully she’ll be asleep soon. I really want to eat ice cream. In the meantime…let me talk about today.
Today was the most ‘typical’ day we’ve had in a few weeks, and a good one to illustrate what our homeschooling (or unschooling) life looks like.
Right after breakfast Girl did a lowercase ‘a’ worksheet, played dress up with a furry vest, then asked to play ‘firefly’ in the guest room, which involved a flashlight and me closing all the shutters and curtains. When I told her it was time to get dressed for real I said that she could wear whatever she wanted, because we didn’t have to go anywhere all day. She hurried off to her dresser and came back shortly wearing a soccer shirt and bathing suit skirt. She wore that all day.
After breakfast I asked Boy to read on the guest bed with the dog, who got spayed on Tuesday and really needed someone to hang out with her and keep her calm. (Ten days with no outdoor play is pretty tough on this poor animal, let me tell you.) He read a Magic Tree House Research Guide about Egypt and Mummies, and he said it was really interesting so I put a bigger book of Egyptian mythology on hold at the library for him. (Later, Boy told me that the ancient Egyptians believed that humans had three parts: 1) a body, 2) Ka, which means life, and 3) Ba, which is ‘what makes a person different from every other person.’) He’s been really interested in mythology lately, and is reading his third (!) book of Greek mythology right now.
After reading, Boy asked me to play Memory on the dining room table. Girl played too. Boy won, as he always does. When they started to argue about putting the cards away, I grabbed an egg carton full of shells (from a trip to NC a couple of years ago) and gave it to Girl, in order to distract her. But that led to a whole morning of shell investigation, with magnifying glasses, sketchpads, and several more trays of shells. I tried suggesting to Boy that they should try to figure out what some of the shells were using the guide, and label his drawings, but he wasn’t too interested in that. (Sometimes they love my suggestions and sometimes they just…don’t.)
Boy didn’t get dressed and make the beds until just before lunch, but after lunch they went outside to play for a bit and then I set them up with…magnetic goo. Boy made this magnetic goo in his Mini-Makers class on Tuesday, and they’ve been waiting to play with it, so I asked them to spread a tarp on the driveway, hold the corners down with bricks, gave them two cookie sheets, the bag of goo, a couple of magnets, and let them have at it. They played with that stuff for almost two hours. It’s hard to believe sometimes how long something can hold their interest.
Best thing I heard said through the open window: “Look, [Girl], it’s attractive to it! (Which sounds like a whole different thing.)
Their favorite things were putting some goo next to a magnet, and watching the glob climb up on the magnet, or dropping a magnet into the goo, and watching it get drawn in, screaming joyfully: “It’s eating it! It’s CONSUMING it!” The magnetic goo is really fantastic, surprisingly so.
Overall, a lovely introduction to the magic of magnetism. And a nice day all around.