About Me

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Michigan, United States
a registered yoga teacher, and a Thai/Yoga Bodywork practitioner.

Monday, February 28, 2011

On the fly

I let them set the pace today.

I set the kids' books on the table  and printed a new "Chore Chart" for the fridge. They know what to do.

Madelyn needs to be nudged into action now and then ("Whatcha doin' Babe?"), but when she announced she would rather "work on her room" (a cleaning process that takes weeks and basically tidies one area while she plays in another), I shrugged, said, "OK."

Then I rolled out my yoga mat and minded my own business.

When Nathan spent more time pacing the kitchen than tackling math, I said nothing. I put out foam yoga blocks for him to use as stepping stones while he paced.

When he took his writing to the gym; when she asked to type up her story on Word, when he hauled out two weeks worth of laundry wrapped in blankets, I just nodded: Yes yes yes. Today was about trust. Trusting it will get done. Trusting in their timing.

Using a stool to hold down the paper in late winter sunshine.
I didn't let up on the load, just how it happened. They are drawing and labeling bones on a life size tracing of their own bodies. Nathan grumbled. I ignored it.

Madelyn asked for some room on the hard floor, too. I suggested she go outside. Her eyes widened: "Yeah!"

Just as long as it gets done, do it in your 'jamas, do it on the patio, put it off until 3:19 PM. If you want to do two hours worth of work in six hours, so be it. It's about disciplining oneself, which for me--today--meant disciplining myself enough to let them go.
Flexing and extending his phalanges on the kitchen floor.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Happy Japan Song

Madelyn's fascination with Japan spilled over onto her birthday.

We went to a Japanese Grill -- the four of us plus Aunt Becca and Uncle Andy. Good thing for reservations as the place was packed, turning away people at the door. We sat at the edge of a round grill while a chef clanged and slapped his way through appetizers, vegetables, fried rice, and meats. He wasn't Japanese, but Korean-born ("South Korea, so you know I'm not crazy" he added).

He doused the food in oil and lit it on fire, earning Nathan's unbroken gaze and admiration.

Madelyn was  prim, eyes wide and glistening with her internal smile.

There was no cake, but she was presented with a candle-holding ceramic Buddha and two pineapple chunks sliced to look like gondolas, shaded on the end by  paper and toothpick umbrellas. Beside each was a blood red cherry hugged by an orange slice, skewered onto a plastic sword. The staff sang "Happy Birthday" and then the "Happy Japan Song." We only know how to count to ten and the words for "left" and "right" in Japanese, so it could have been about anything. (You stupid Americans paid five dollars for this song...).

Madelyn later told Gramma the dinner "was magical." Maybe it was all that fire or maybe it was the delectable yolk sauce on the shrimp, but I think she's onto something. Now--how to work in a round grill on a future kitchen remodel...

Thursday, February 17, 2011

All that school socialization? Not so great.

The kids got two compliments within the last two days. Yesterday, while waiting outside my yoga class for five minutes, they sat and read/doodled on their DSi games. When I came out, a woman who had been sitting across from them told me how "wonderful" my children are: they sat quietly and spoke to her politely when she inquired whether school was out for the day. She told us homeschooling "is the best," and she beamed at them.

Then at Meijer, the kids returned bottles and got to keep the money. We stood at the end of the checkout, cart full and paid for. They eyed the toy and candy machines, weighing their choice of saving versus spending. When I gave a last call to "either spend some money or save it so we can go home," they both said "Save!" A woman sitting on a bench about six feet away exclaimed: "Good for you!"

Maybe it's all this being-in-the-adult world that got them going with this next topic. I'm not sure. On the drive home and in the car wash, they talked at length about how "mean" and "bratty" this-and-that kid had been in school. Nate said there were even kids who seemed glad he would be going; Madelyn talked about how she wouldn't miss this one ordering her around, that one putting her down. When I was at the dentist yesterday, the hygenist asked about our "socializing." It is assumed that being in school is the optimal place to learn how to interact with other people. Except, according it my kids, it's not. It's a place to be called names; it's a place to be isolated in a crowd; it's a place where the kid to adult ratio is such that small disagreements get ignored for the sake of moving a class along--and small disagreements turn into silent wars when left unattended.

My kids have to work on their manners and self-control--but so does every person alive. At a time when those habits are forming, they were left on their own more than not at school, a situation that doesn't exist now that's we are one on one every day. Those minor irritations are managed and smoothed over, laying groundwork for the big irritations bound to come.

How are their social skills? Getting better, now that they're not bombarded with group-think or mob-rule. 

Monday, February 14, 2011

In public

The most noteworthy event of last week was going to see Papa in the hospital, where he is rehabilitating from a stroke. We drove up with Gramma (my mom). Nate volunteered to push her in the wheelchair since long hallways and breathing difficulty (COPD) do not mesh. He leaned into it, all fifty-five pounds of him. Then those two kids of mine did something that near-astonished me. They sat in a small hospital room and occupied themselves for over an hour with one small McDonald's toy (Madelyn) and tinkering with the wheelchair (Nate).

When the boredom finally overcame them, Papa turned on the TV and treated them to half an hour of cartoons we don't get at home. Then we loaded up the wheelchair with Gramma and Papa's laundry, and Nate insisted on making the return trip, pushing all the way back to the entrance.

When we parked the chair, the security guard greeted us, then asked, "Shouldn't they be in school?" This was the first time anyone had made this remark to me. It took a beat for me to respond with "No. We homeschool."

"Really?" he replied. "You do it?"

"Yep. We do the basics of reading and math and all, but when the kids get interested in something, we can check it out. Rather than doing a unit and hoping it's interesting, we use what they like already."

He nodded, seeming to approve. I felt compelled to elaborate.

I gestured: "This one (Madelyn) knows about Vikings and Japan because those are what interest her."

Madelyn complied by echoing, "I like Viking and Japan."

Then we waved off and boarded the elevator for the parking garage. The kids had never been in a hospital until this day and it was my first experience "defending" our apparent truancy. How fitting that it was a security guard--a man of enforcement--who had to be put right about where my kids "should" be.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Temporary Neverland

In the previous post, we seemed to cram two weeks into one. Between the blizzard and the flu, now it's like we skipped a week  My work obligations dried up with the increasing snow starting Tuesday. Rob came home ill Tuesday night and set up residence on the couch. We took a snow day on Wednesday, resumed our routine on Thursday, but cancelled Thursday evening obligations as Rob was still sick. On Friday, our school and errands came to a clammy halt when I woke up with the flu. Rob went back to work; I took his spot on the couch.

I have rarely been so miserable. My kids have rarely been so happy and free. Too weak to do much, I lay around and watched that my kids have become better friends. We sat around Friday and Saturday doing little-to-nothing. Rather, they sat; I propped and slid, shivered, and draped over. Left to entertain and occupy themselves, the kids became allies, poring over their DSIs like generals over a war zone; they consulted YouTube Pokemon experts and haggled over superior nicknames for their characters. They took turns watching each others favorite cartoons. Nate helped create and play Madelyn's stuffed animal warfare game. Madelyn let Nate "beat Pokemon" on the DS for her. They offered snacks to each other.  They still bickered with the vitriol of political opponents, but then they turned and made like best chums. Ah, how common interests make fast friends: yielding to all this Pokemon nonsense gave me more hours of peace than any amount of pleading, nagging, or threatening.

They took turns nursing us, too: filling hot water bottles, making tepid tea, resisting minimally when I called out chores that had to be done. They worked together folding laundry, putting away dishes, and wiping bathroom surfaces while chattering away continually in Pokemon vernacular.

Madelyn told me last night that she wishes it were Saturday again. I narrowed my eyes, automatically flashing through that day of passing out (literally) from low blood pressure, that day of no appetite, those times of blooming aches in my joints.

That's not what she's thinking. She wants to have the run of the house again. She and Nate held dominion over that day, with Rob at work and me laid out. It was a day fit for a kid.