Day 120: Messy violin

This morning Boy woke up around 7, late for him, and I got him snuggled up in the big chair with his bathrobe on and some blankets on his lap, reading a Magic Tree House book, before I went back to bed for a little while with Girl. It was a cold, rainy day, and I saw the milkman pull up just as I had gotten up and was going around opening up the shades. I was thinking how much I didn’t want to go out there to get the milk cooler in my bathrobe in the rain (our front door doesn’t open, so we have to walk around from the side door to get milk and mail) when I saw that Boy was getting his rainboots on to go get it for me. Boy can’t carry the whole cooler (too heavy) so he had to make two trips, one for each glass bottle of milk. He only had shorty pajamas on under his bathrobe, so he was pretty chilly by the time he got back in. He said he didn’t want me to have to go out in the rain.

Since yesterday, moms from Geography Club have been posting ideas for making messy letters with Boy. One mom suggested we paint letters with our toes. I ran that one by him. No way, he said. Then he made each one of his toes tell me ‘no way‘ in turn. They were a unified front. Probably paint on one’s toes is a thing that must be eased into. We’ll stick to messy pencil letters for now.

After that I made pancakes and coffee, and then the kids headed into Boy’s room to build marble runs. I’d just been thinking last night that they’d been watching a lot of TV lately, and maybe I should intervene, but today they were on to other things, so I didn’t need to.

Boy's ball run, mid construction
Boy’s ball run, mid construction

IMG_4289

Girl's ball run. (She's working on it.)
Girl’s ball run. (She’s working on it.)

We skipped co-op because Girl had had a fever within 24 hours, but by today she was feeling a lot better.

I spent the mid-morning making phone calls and doing a few other things while the kids were busy, but around 11 I asked Boy to come out so we could write down his sentences for this week’s Biographies class. Even though he wasn’t in the class, I had the sentences from the Facebook group page, and thought it would be good to get it out of the way on the quietest day we would have this week.

I’m trying to have the foresight to be aware of when we are going to do things that can be hard for Boy, and make them as low-key and relaxed as possible, to try to disarm some of the tension that leads to meltdowns. I got us comfy on the couch, I put on the (ridiculous, yet soothing) ‘zen spa’ music I played for Girl’s spa day on Saturday. We got more than half way through the sentences without incident, but then Boy wrote a ‘t’ that wasn’t quite on the line, and wanted to erase it. I said no. Instant meltdown. But: he didn’t hit me, he didn’t crumple up the paper.

He did throw himself around a lot and say I was ruining his life, he may have even said he wished I was dead? But maybe that was yesterday, and he definitely proclaimed that he would never, ever stop trying to get an eraser to erase that ‘t’. Long story short, I handed him an eraser and said it was up to him, but he had to decide whether it was more important to be in the class, or to erase the letter, because he couldn’t do both, just as I did last Thursday. He erased the letter. Okay, then, I said. You aren’t in the class.

He came back almost immediately and said he shouldn’t have done that, and that he took responsibility. Now of course one part of me thought it didn’t really matter, since he’d erased the letter like he wanted, so of course now he was calmed down and it was easy to say sorry. But what I said was, Okay, look. I’ll make a deal with you. If you can sit down and right me a page of messy letters like you did yesterday, I’ll sit down with you and we can try finishing your sentences.

That worked really well. He wrote really messy letters, and finally just scribbles. And he did it with…marker. Because, as Boy told me in an earnest whisper: You can’t erase marker. Girl joined in on the excitement and also wrote a whole page full of messy letters. I was glad to see her happy with me again, since when Boy had been raging, she decided it was my fault and came up behind me and gave my butt a hearty pummeling with her small fists.

Boy had no troubles finishing the Ben Franklin paragraph.

Then we had lunch, and practiced singing the Star Spangled Banner really, really loudly for Geography Club, while Girl did her ‘flag dance’ with a small flag she made herself. I only wish she’d do that dance for Geography Club, but alas, Girl is far too shy, and too dignified in public, to do that.

After that Boy sat down and finished his math exercises from the other day, which leaves us with only one unit in this book before we can move on to the next. (Yay!)

And then it was time for violin. I didn’t ask Boy to start in the middle of any songs today (choosing my battles) but he did not react badly when I said that he missed a Twinkle line, as happened a couple of times. He just started over. Then he played a fiddle song, one which he will start incorporating double-stop notes into shortly. He played it fine, but I told him that what I thought would make his teacher really happy, was if we could play it a little faster.

Boy has thus far had a very difficult time with speed in playing violin. He tries to keep too much control to go quickly, and gets very frustrated if his fingers or his brain get tripped up when he tries to go faster. But today he tried it.

One time, faster: okay. A little faster: okay. Even faster than that: still okay! Mumma! he exclaimed, I’m playing messy violin!! I clapped time faster and faster every time, and Girl got excited and started dancing, and then she and I just started jumping up and down with the music, and Boy was playing so fast we couldn’t even keep up. I like how this sounds, he said, It sounds like the wild west!

And then he played fast Run Pony Twinkle. And fast Wish I Had a Motorcycle Twinkle. And a tripalet Twinkle that was so fast I had a hard time counting to six along with his bow strokes. It was brilliant, and he had a bright, happy smile.

But then we played a regular Peanuts and Popcorn Twinkle because we don’t know who can play Peanuts and Popcorn fast–we only know it isn’t us. We have our limits.

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