We were getting ready to go to the violin shop this morning, when it suddenly started pouring. I told the kids we were going to hold off going until it cleared up a little, and they immediately chorused, “Let’s do some homeschool!” And to them, that means lessons. I’d been waiting hopefully for weeks for them to ask, but they caught me off-guard. I scrambled to get Girl’s Moving Beyond the Page book and Boy’s Singapore Math book. Meanwhile Girl got herself set up with writing paper and a pencil at the dining room table, and Boy got himself set up at the actual ‘school’ table in my room with some manipulatives and a dry erase tablet, asking for some math problems to solve.
I gave him a couple of long addition and subtraction problems, arranged vertically, but that was actually sort of confusing for him. I can’t remember how much we did with these kind of problems last school-year, but whether it was review or new information, he was getting it quite well after a little bit. But poor Girl got bored without my attention, the rain lightened, and we decided to get going. Without me getting a chance to open their lesson books. (Gah!) Tomorrow will be busy again, but so help me I will be prepared by Monday morning. If they ask for homeschool, Mumma will be ready to do homeschool.
In any case, it took us an hour and a half to get to the violin store and back with a shoulder rest for Boy. The violin guy didn’t give us a new bow (as requested by Boy’s teacher) or condition the violin, so we have to make another trip next week. Errands are so time consuming! I do my best to minimize the time we spend driving around, but it still drives me crazy.
But, we got home, we had lunch, and Boy and I sat down to practice violin.
(I think the most important thing I need to do this month and next for Boy is to make sure that we really practice every day. He cares a lot about his playing, and has been crying a lot about mistakes, and I think that might be because he doesn’t feel like he’s progressing like he wants. But he’s not at a place where he is going to ask to practice. That’s on me.)
Today was the first time we played with a metronome (I found a free one online, since we won’t be able to buy one for a couple of weeks yet). And that was a little frustrating for Boy, trying to keep the time. But it was getting better by the end. He really cried once, but managed to get back on track.
After violin, I taught Boy the Penguin song Girl is supposed to be learning for Daisy Scouts, so he can help me teach her, like he did with the Girl Scout Promise. That song is immensely fun: “Penguins: Attention! Penguins: Begin! Right arm! Left arm! Right foot! Left foot! Nod your head! Turn around! Have you ever seen, a penguin come to tea? Take a look at me, a penguin you will see…”
It put an easy smile back on Boy’s face, and that was good to see.
Then we hurried hurried to eat noodles, collect our books and drive (in the rain) to the library to meet our friends. Before we left, Boy made sure to put his library card, which hangs on a cord, around his neck and hid it in his sweater. When we arrived, Boy went immediately to the shelf with the Magic School Bus books, and picked out four. I caught sight of our friends, and Girl ran off to find the kids in the play area. I could hear their very enthusiastic greetings from the front desk while I picked up our holds and interlibrary loans.
Background: My general library practice is to figure out what books we need for various things at home, and put in a hold request, so that the books are delivered to our branch from any other branch in the city. If the city doesn’t have the book, I just fill out an interlibrary loan request, and I usually have the book in a week or so. It’s wonderful for a homeschooling family. When we are at the library, we can browse, but I don’t have to search for specific things.
On this rainy Thursday, the kids just played for almost two hours, with each other, their friends, and two other families’ worth of kids who came in. I chatted with my friend and read a draft of a short story she’s working on (she’s been getting a lot of her fiction published on online journals lately), and then chatted some more with her and the other moms, kept an eye on her younger son while she looked at DVDs, watched the kids playing. Before we left Boy went to the children’s DVD section and picked out two movies (something he had never done) and took them up to the desk by himself.
On the way to our cars, my friend’s little boy (who is only 3) made a run for the enormous back gardens and lawn of the library, where the kids love to play when it isn’t raining. We asked the bigger kids to run him down, and it was comical (and a little nerve-wracking) to watch them try to retrieve him. (He passively resisted, and they tried to carry him, but weren’t very good at it.) But no one ended up hurt, and the kids were laughing, and I thought how glad I was to have these particular friends to meet at the library. We drove home, again in the rain.
Soccer was cancelled, so I made stove-top popcorn with salt and pepper, and the kids watched one of Boy’s movies: an early Miyazaki one called Castle in the Sky. They ate dinner in front of the movie (noodles, salmon, steamed savoy cabbage).
After she finished eating, and while Boy was still watching the movie, Girl worked on an invention she proudly calls “The Mega-Bouncer-Funner.” (She got tired of the balls from her ball popper dog flying all across the room, I guess, and decided to attach the ball to the dog with string and her beloved craft tape.) She worked with intense focus and her strong little fingers to get that string attached firmly inside the dog.
Then pajamas, a bath, story, bed.
Oh, and one more thing. First thing this morning after breakfast, the kids started doing some writing and drawing. Boy wrote me this letter:
Now, the terrible thing is, that when Boy showed me this letter, and I turned it over to read the back, the first thing I thought was, “Dammit, he’s not capitalizing the first word in the sentence. And he IS capitalizing random words in text. We really need to review that. At least he’s remembering periods.”
Because sometimes I forget what’s important. But I didn’t say any of that. Because I’m getting better at this. I hugged him and hugged him and kissed him and told him that he and Girl were worth every bit of work, and if I could work even more, I would. Because I am so very lucky to have been given them. Because that’s the truth.
And at the end of every one of our imperfect days, I am so grateful that I will have another one tomorrow.