Just in case any of you think I’m a homeschooling paragon of virtue, let me tell you about today. I made my daughter cry.
Yes, I am a heel, and a scoundrel, and I do not deserve to be raising this precious little angel of sweetness.
But in my defense … LORD, can she ever be frustrating!!!!
First, of all, I had to call her into the schoolroom three times before she came. Apparently two weeks off has taught her that school is optional, so every day this week, we have a discussion that goes like this:
GG: Are we having school today?
Mom: Of course! We have school every day.
GG: Do we have to?
Mom: *grits teeth*
We got to the schoolroom, and she said, “Do we have to do Fingermath?” Insert the rest of the conversation, replacing “school” with “math.”
Finally she got ready to do the Fingermath warmup — held the pencil, poised her fingers and … dropped the pencil to squirm around in her seat and scratch her back.
I gritted my teeth.
She picked up the pencil and poised her fingers again. I said, “One …”
She dropped the pencil to stretch in her chair and make yawning noises as if she’d just finished the Boston Marathon. In record time.
I began to worry about the enamel on my molars.
We started the warmup, where we count to ninety-nine and back down, just to warm up her fingers and her brain, and …
We interrupt this program to crow just a tiny bit, even though this is technically a day to whine.
Tuesday, after a two-week hiatus from Fingermath — two weeks of doing absolutely no school whatsoever — Girly Girl and I were doing our warmup count up to ninety-nine and back down, and I dropped out somewhere around twenty. I just stopped counting, though I continued the fingering. I’ve never done that before! But she never paused or even lost the rhythm. Just counted all the way up. On the way back down, she needed prompting a few times (she has a tendency to skip the sevens, which coincidentally is what I do if I’m not paying attention), but she went all the way down. She didn’t even pause going from fifty to forty-nine, the hardest move in Fingermath since involves lifting one finger while simultaneously putting the other nine down. I was SOOO thrilled!
Now, we return you to your regularly scheduled whine.
We hadn’t even gotten to ten on the warmup today before The Animator interrupted up.
“I can’t do my math,” he said. “I don’t have a protractor.”
Technically, he should have three of them. We bought one last year, but he broke it. We should have gotten one this year in the kit we bought from the school, but it didn’t come with one. So I sent Mars to the store yesterday, and he bought a new one.
We couldn’t find it. In fact, we never did, and Mars has no idea where he put it.
So we scratched math and switched to poetry. After yesterday, I was looking forward to this unit. This would be fun!!
I was a little nervous because I didn’t think Girly Girl understood syllables, but since it was nearly identical to the Diamante poem otherwise, I didn’t expect a battle.
The Animator, of course, knew exactly what a syllable was and gave us a great definition. GG and I spoke several words, counting the syllables with Fingermath to hammer it in. I looked over to see The Animator writing furiously on his iPad.
“What are you doing?”
“Writing a lanterne poem,” he said, surprised to be asked.
“Wait!” I said. “At least wait until we read the examples.”
Fast forward ten minutes. The Animator had two lanterne poems written and was rapidly writing a third, which I requested to be about a topic other than Minecraft. Girly Girl had put in ten minutes …
Go ahead, guess. Guess what she was doing for those ten minutes.
Yep. Scratching, stretching, and yawning.
I tried to direct her by asking what she wanted to write about. She didn’t know. I asked what was important to her. She said, “Family.” I asked why family was important, and she said, “We love each other.”
Good! I thought. Love. A nice, single syllable word to start it off. I had her write it down on the first line.
Aaannd then we stalled. She couldn’t put “family” as the second line because it has three syllables, and she couldn’t think of anything else. “What’s important about love?” I asked, and she said, “It’s important.”
Finally, after another three rounds of scratching and stretching, I thought perhaps we should change the topic. Make it more concrete. Visual.
I asked her a few questions, and we settled on a topic: Cookie, our mini-daschshund, standing on her back legs, begging for table scraps. Perfect.
I had her brainstorm a bunch of words and phrases, and she came up with a great list: Cookie, begging, doing tricks for treats, stands on her back legs. Plenty there for a short lanterne poem.
Thirty minutes later, when we still had a blank sheet, I lost my cool. I have an infinite amount of patience for the fact that she’s slow learning things sometimes, but none at all for her stall tactics. And maybe what I was seeing was the former, but it sure looked and felt like the latter.
In case you’ve forgotten (something I — a good martyr, trained by
my mother a real professional — can never allow), I’m making some pretty big sacrifices to homeschool these ingrates sweet children. I gave up my precious solitude, not to mention the bulk of my writing time.
And I don’t mind — really I don’t. At least not usually. But when I give up three hours for thirty minutes or less of schooling? I go a little ballistic.
And I did. I lit into her for wasting my time (not to mention The Animator’s). I scolded her for stalling.
I suspect she’s learned this from school. She stalls and delays, and eventually she’s rewarded by not having to do the assignment. Professional teachers don’t have the time to just make her keep working on it, like I do. They can’t stretch out the school day like I can.
Of course, by the same token, they get to send her away at 2:45, whether she’s done or not. *forcibly separate my ground-down molars*
We went back to the poem, but we were both traumatized. I had her list all the words on her brainstorm separately, then count the syllables in each (which she did with no hesitation). Then I asked her choose a “one” syllable word from her list. She chose “legs.”
Legs??? Really? You want to start a poem with legs?
I tried to follow her, to let her discover for herself why “legs” was perhaps not the best choice, so I asked what two-syllable word she’d use on the second line. She said “begging.”
“Legs. Begging?” Really?
No amount of discussion could convince her that that just didn’t work. I needed ten minutes or so to update social studies and health on the iPads, so I walked away, leaving her to finish on her own. Frankly, I felt defeated.
The Animator tried to help her, but what they came up with was just gobbledygook. So, so, SO frustrating!
I swear, there’s never a meh day homeschooling. It’s either triumph or tragedy. And today was tragic.
Eventually it occurred to me that perhaps it was the word “poem” that was stalling her brain, so I told her to ignore the structure of the poem and just write a sentence, using the phrases she’d brainstormed.
In almost no time, with only a little help from her brother, she came up with two great sentences: “Cookie is begging for treats. She’s standing on her back legs.”
Once we had something to work with, it was only a little painful to reshape it into the Lanterne posted below, but by then it was too late. She cried for forty-five minutes, and I spent the afternoon wanting to curl into my shell and shrivel up.
for treats by
standing on back
Thanks heavens the triumphant days outnumber the tragic ones!