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Saturday, October 18, 2014

Bad Hair and Homeschooling Days

Nothing is more discouraging than thinking YOU are the only one who can't pull something off, whether it's gorgeous hair or those magical homeschooling days when everything comes together and you feel you've met the needs of each of your children.

When it comes to hair, I had a great mantra that helped me. (Past tense, because now I'm a mom my hair is almost always pulled up and out of the way, and on the rare occasion I make an effort to do anything fancy, the effort is good enough, right?) But back in the days when hair and make-up mattered, I would remember EVERYONE has bad hair days, and then I would say to myself:

The best part about BEING beautiful is that you don't have to LOOK beautiful all the time.

Well, I can't think of ANYTHING so snappy and helpful for homeschooling. On those days that have been filled with the ridiculous bickering of little siblings, somehow "The best part about BEING a loving family is that you don't have to ACT like a loving family all the time," just doesn't work! Ha! Nor does, "The best part about BEING a pulled-together mom is that I don't have to pull it together ALL the time." If you have a saying that does work, please share it in the comments below.

In my last post, I DID mention how helpful it is to let go of unrealistic expectations of daily glory. Even the payed professionals at the public schools have off days. When we were kids in school, we probably didn't know that was what was going on - why the lunch room "duty" was so grumpy about us being quiet while we ate one day, or why on another day we watched a random film - but when we look back as adults, we realize the ups and downs, for even the "schoolers" and their educators, are a part of life.

So, as I'm all out of sound-bite wisdom, I thought I'd share my own, recent homeschooling bad hair day. I hope you find the same comfort in it as we all feel looking at the pictures of movie stars without their hair and make-up done.

I decided suddenly this past Thursday morning to take my kids on an adventure. We had had plans filling the morning, but within the space of a few hours the day before, they were all cancelled (or so I thought) so I decided we should squeeze in another field trip. Destination: the Monastery in Huntsville, UT.

It turns out, we weren't the free birds I thought we were. I completely spaced my son's tennis lesson - didn't remember that I had spaced it 'til that evening. But it gets worse than me dropping balls, because honestly, I do THAT on a somewhat frequent basis.

We headed out, me in high spirits, dampened occasionally by some of the bickering I mentioned earlier, and bouts of UN-helpfulness on the part of my kids, but I was determined to press on. I was sure once we got going, things would smooth out. I had filled the car with what snack food we had, which was far from a meal, but it WAS food my kids would eat, and hungry kids on the road are the worst, I'd already discovered from other failed homeschool adventures.

The drive was gorgeous. The Monastery, which I'll review elsewhere, wasn't engaging for the crew, so we took the opportunity to eat some of the food we'd brought while we waited for a chanting session. While eating, my 5 year old kept shouting at the rest of us if we were sitting many yards from her instead of by her side. I kept trying to adjust her volume for the meditative atmosphere around us. And the big three kept attempting to "share" their corn chips by handing each other leaves from the grass, which led to more bickering and frustration. Finally, I declared our make-shift picnic over and put the food back in the car. 

We then approached the church. I reminded the crew that inside was a sacred space and that we needed to be quiet and respectful. But inside my 2 year old (age appropriately) just wanted to go places visitors were not allowed, and my 5 year old, though whispering now, could wake the dead with her whisper. I finally just snapped at her, "STOP talking."

The chanting only went for 10 minutes, but my little guy only made it through 5. So I left the big three inside and walked out right in the middle, trying with one hand to clamp his mouth shut.

Once that ended, there wasn't much else to see or do, so we decided to explore the local town. All the while my kids were probably wondering when the fun would begin. That wondering probably made them anxious, which translated into impatience and griping. We got out of the car near the "town center" to snap a few pictures. The kids kept wanting to run and climb on stuff that wasn't appropriate. I kept trying to engage them with stuff they COULD do, but I didn't find a lot. Finally we discovered an open restaurant and I told them I'd get them a snack.

After I'd ordered, I went to pay and discovered I had no money, nor check book, nor cards in my purse. I apologized and took the 5-bight sample I'd already been handed to the table where my children were not-so-quietly waiting. I told them I didn't have any money and we needed to go. They voiced their complaints, which didn't make for a very graceful or swift exit, and then outside proceeded to yell at each other that they didn't get very much of the sample I told them they could share. As if one of them expected to have even a mouthful. 

Well, I had hit my limit of resistance. And lacking the funds to make anything more meaningful happen, I loaded them into the car to head home. I was just grateful we had enough gas and enough food to make the return trip comfortably. But my gratitude was NOT shared by my kids. They started protesting all their wants and demands. I tried explaining again that we didn't have ANY money and I wanted to be sure we had enough gas to get home. Then my 8 year old, from the back of the car starts wailing that this was the worst field trip ever!
My 8 yr. old's posture says it all!

Well, I had had it with their lack of cooperation and gratitude so I pulled the car over and shouted back to her that if she wanted the worst field trip ever, she had got it and that we wouldn't move from that spot 'til she pulled it together. The sorry's were slow and begrudged. Finally, my 5 year old, who is generally a pretty perceptive thanker told me thanks for taking her on this trip. The older kids managed to dry their tears and thank me too. So we went on our way and came strait home.

OUT of the frustration of the moment, it was pretty big of them to thank me. It MAY have been the worst field trip ever. But it was a trip. I DID try. I probably need to end this post and thank THEM for thanking me for the failed attempt at adventures in learning. I made an effort, and they also made an effort to be content with the less-than-stellar. In the end, all our efforts were less than they might be. But I guess we can learn from that too!

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