You know what this weekend is, right? Labor Day? Anyone know what this heralds here at Chez Kira?
That’s right, the annual Labor Day freakout.
See, I homeschool the boys, and I don’t start the school year until the week after Labor Day. And right up until then, I go around saying things like hey, homeschooling isn’t that hard. And, the difficult part is deciding to do it, and what approach you want to take, after that it’s just your daily routine. And even, God help me, we have a great time homeschooling. I wouldn’t miss it for the world.
I am a big fat liar.
I am up to my eyeballs in papers and books and notices that books won’t be delivered until OCTOBER, as though THAT were an option for us thankyouverymuch, and I am insane.
I can’t do this.
Good God in heaven above, I’ll be teaching THREE boys this year, and one of them is still mostly feral.
What on earth was I thinking? I’ll ruin them.
PENCILS. I don’t have any of those big triangular pencils for Max. How will he ever get his grip straight, and HELLO, who am I kidding, have you seen how I grip a pencil? Like I just might kill someone with it, that’s how. YES, I have a TERRIBLE grip, and hasn’t anyone NOTICED that by now? I’m going to end up with young men with ham-fisted grips on their pencils and probably entirely inadequate understandings of history because you know I never did make Tre memorize Patrick Henry’s speech about giving him liberty or death. Was it Patrick Henry? It was, right? OH I CAN’T REMEMBER. What sort of teacher am I?
*pant pant pant*
So. It’s like that around here. But mostly inside my head. On the outside I’m smiling and nodding, which might seem normal, except I’m doing it even when I’m all alone, so no. Not normal.
But! Tre and Max will be starting their third year at the local homeschool enrichment program, which means they will be AT SCHOOL on Mondays, and to make this joyous thing even joyouser (did you SEE the word I just used? That’s not a word. And I’m teaching them VOCABULARY? Isn’t that the horrifyingest thing you’ve heard all day?), Raphael will be joining his brothers AT SCHOOL. He will be in the pre-K class this year, and I shall have Mondays ALL TO MYSELF. It gladdens the heart. I shall grocery shop ALONE, oh yes I shall.
“Raphael!” I said the other day, “Aren’t you EXCITED about starting school?” This was a slam-dunk, I figured. He loves social activities of any sort, and has long yearned to go with his brothers on Mondays. He scowled back at me.
“I don’t want to go.”
I gaped at him, then swallowed and tried to look nonchalant. They can smell fear, you know.
“Really, honey? Why not?” He crossed his arms, pinned his chin to his chest, and stood in silence for a moment. Finally he muttered quietly,
“I can’t write my name.”
“OH IS THAT IT?” I was hugely relieved. Dear child was worried he wasn’t ready for school. “Honey, you don’t HAVE to know how to write your name to go to pre-K!” The scowl was unrelenting. “You GO to school to learn things!” He shook his head. “I bet most of the other kids won’t know how to write their names either!” Still no joy. In desperation, I said, “Do you want me to teach you how to write your name?”
The sun broke through the clouds, and he grinned and grabbed my hand.
So we sat down at the table and I wrestled his hand around a pencil. Honestly, he’s just barely four, and it’s like neurosurgery, trying to form those fingers around a pencil the right way. But he got some sort of hold, and we sat and filled both sides of several pieces of paper with shaky R’s. He attempted A, and marveled at the fact that P was just an R with a missing leg. H was easy, and then he had to jump to the end and do an L, which he was proud to say he already knew. The letters were scattered all over the page, sequencing not being a strong suit for him just yet.
As he worked on a series of R’s, he wrote one small one inside the legs of a larger one. The small R was backwards, and it sent him into despair. He dropped his head to the table with a thunk.
“I will NEVER DO IT,” he moaned.
I rubbed his back and showed him the stack of papers with many many successful R’s.
“Look at these! And right there is a GREAT A! And look how good your H is! And you already know how to write an L, don’t you?” He nodded grudgingly, and picked up his head.
“Honey,” I told him, “you can’t expect to figure it all out today. You’ve learned a lot, and that’s a great start. A half an hour ago you couldn’t write an R, and look at all of those great ones! Just worry about one letter at a time, and you’ll be fine.”
He smiled, and hopped off the chair. As he ran off, it occurred to me that I might want to take my own advice.
The new school year? Too much to do by far.
We’ll have to take it one letter at a time.