Today was one of THOSE days. One of those days where you want to hang your children by their toes from the ceiling fan, turn it on high and throw water balloons full of green jello at them as they swing by. Don’t lie, if you haven’t thought about it before, you are now.
It started out innocent enough, and like most days do, though a bit earlier. We had planned to have a group of kids over this morning at 10:00 and I still needed some items from the store for some games we had planned. Sort of a meet and greet thing for families with older homeschool kids since most of the meet ups we have attended so far have been mostly younger children and I wanted my 12 and 9 year olds to meet some kids closer to their ages. I left the kids home to clean up while I dashed off to the store to gather the few last minute items. in the 20-30 minutes I was gone, not much got done, but whatever.
By 10:30 I gave up on anybody showing up. This happens to me often and it’s the major (actually the only) reason I hate hosting parties, gatherings or any type of get together.
Anyway, I decided we’d have lunch at our usual time of 11:00 then I’d pack the kids into the car, make a quick run to the store to return the unused items I’d bought earlier and take them to the library since we had missed our library day last week.
As we are on our way out the door all hell breaks loose and the kids are out of their minds. purposely picking on each other, dragging their feet, not listening, you name it. One of those moments when the best behaved one of the group, is the toddler…
Things continue to go down hill as I’m driving down the road to the grocery store, my 9 year old, who is already developing that teenage attitude, from the back seat chooses this moment to toss my water bottle into my seat, it proceeds to open and tip upside down. Mama is now a little wet and more than a little aggravated..
The few minutes I was in the grocery store making my return the kids decided to change the plan (or so they thought) and decide they want to go to the Halloween store. I know from experience this is a BAD idea. They say they “just want to look” Yeah right, just looking turns into “Mom! Can I get this?!” “Ooh! I want these!” And then everybody gets bent out of shape when I am true to my word and purchase nothing.
I say, “no, we’re going to the library” Caleb: “Fine, I wont have any fun, but whatever”.
Ok, fine, you guys want to be that way, we’re not going to the library. I’m going to drop the books we are returning into the book drop and then we will go straight home, where mom will get her revenge.
“Go ahead mom, ruin the day for everyone..”
Ceiling fan? CHECK
Water balloons? CHECK
Green Jello? CHECK!
“Oh, children! Mommy has a surprise for you”!
I did however have all of them hand me their cell phones, tablets and other such electronic devices. Perhaps I chose the wrong moment for this particular maneuver, it really wasn’t JUST because of this incident. I have been thinking about it for a while to get them out of the habit of hiding behind their phones and tablets and explore other things. Though I definitely should have separated the electronic removal from the moment.
Pardon me… I was just interrupted with a plea for why my 12 year old NEEDS his cell phone. No, my dear, you do not NEED your cell phone. I told him he may borrow my tablet when he wants to work on his ham radio license , “But I don’t like doing it on the tablet, I want to do it on my phone!”
“And what if dad forgets to pick us up from dance?”
“Oh, I forgot your phone is the ONLY phone on the planet who can call your father if this completely plausible situation should happen to arise.. Tough snickers…”
“I thought you didn’t believe in punishment”
I know we are going to hit some bumps in the road while we find our groove. I’m having a hard time finding a balance between freedom and structure and it is showing. This is not the first time in the last month that I have felt like shouting “That’s it! I’m putting you on the school bus TOMORROW!”
Ok, time to snap back to reality…. How am I really going to handle this brick wall we have encountered and get us back on track. I have always felt a strong pull towards unschooling but I know we also need some kind of structure. As a family of 5 we will not survive if we just make each day a free for all.
I decided that I will be sitting down with them individually tomorrow. I have warned them that they are in charge of their education and how good or bad it is. I want to know what they want to learn and how they feel they can best learn it. There will also be some things they will be required to learn, mostly life skills everybody should know and most people first encountering the world as adults don’t know. I also have them thinking about community service and how they can help others in their community and beyond.
We have hit a bump in the road, but that’s ok. Tomorrow is a new day, tomorrow we can start fresh.
But for now, mom has to get ready for another fun filled evening at work..
I know not everybody has the same views and values, but I’m curious. What would you do? How would you handle the situation and find a healthy balance?