Monday, April 6, 2015

The Horse, the Princess, and the Unicorn. Oh, and the Mule

Even though it's Monday, I'm not sharing our work plans for the week.

Gasp, I know! Has the Earth stopped turning? Do pigs finally fly?

The truth is that my fiercely independent, self-determined Will needs a break from being told what to do for half the day, and I need a break from fighting her to the death for every single task that I'd like her to accomplish. Her non-compliance has been gradually ramping up for a while to this untenable extreme, so I'm hoping that a complete break will refresh her attitude.

And the house is, at least, more peaceful since the break. Will puttered outside for the entirety of one day, then played Tokyo Jungle for eight hours the next day, followed by reading the entire Gregor the Overlander series within the next 24 hours, followed by playing outside with her sister for another half of a day. She skipped two family hikes and her Syd's gymnastics meet, BUT participated in family dinner conversation without any bad attitude, talked me into ordering FIFTEEN chicks for her to raise, and listened to me lay down the rules for the usage of her Nook (recently returned from its embargo due to her lying about its usage) without a single sigh or glare or protest.

Will's generally a pretty nerdy kid who can do things like tell you the world's percentage of coffee consumption or the difference between Fahrenheit and Celsius without a blink, so there's no danger of her "falling behind," whatever she chooses to do for however long she chooses to do it. My plan is simply to give her the freedom to make her own choices, and watch her for signs that she might be ready have a little more structure--sixth-grade Math Mammoth will be waiting for her whenever she wants it. Of course, I'm also not ruling out the possibility that she'll want to determine her own courses of study from here on out; perhaps the puttering and the video games and the novels will recalibrate themselves between some other, larger projects or areas of interest. Wait and see, I suppose...

Anyway, the big bonus to this is that it gives me a way to focus school time solely on the kid who can never have enough attention. Every school day after breakfast, she and I sit down together (I always invite Will to join us, of course. One day she might!) and I write while she does her Math Mammoth, then we do First Language Lessons together, then she does spelling/handwriting, and then she reads me a book. In the afternoon, after lunch and outdoor play, I invite both kids--generally just Syd accepts--to join me in a project. Last week it was starting seeds one day, painting another day, and transplanting bulbs, which Will DID join us in, on another day. This week's projects will likely consist of making bottle cap jewelry, brainstorming Syd's upcoming birthday party, creating Mandarin vocabulary flash cards, and helping me construct and install a rain chain. It's a good active thinking, problem solving sort of time.

All that being said, here's something totally unrelated to any of that! I wanted to show you why, so often on our work plans, I ask Syd to "write a story." It's because this is what it looks like when she does:

She gets so focused on her work, and makes such elaborate compositions and illustrations, and the results are always so cute--

How could I not assign that every single week?

I made a note in my planner that while we were out and about last week (just coming from the library, of COURSE), Syd asked for my help in finding some "How to Draw" books for her. We couldn't do it while we were in the car, so I wrote it down so that I wouldn't forget it, and then I forgot it.

Until now! I guess that's what we'll do for our afternoon project today!


Tina said...

It's so hard growing up and parenting kids who are in the process of figuring themselves out. Have your girls ever gone through a phase where they felt the need to confess their every deep dark secret (like drinking right from the Britta filter in the fridge...) as well as telling you every. single. thought. that crosses their minds?

I am so exhausted right now.

julie said...

Drinking right from the Britta filter, eh? Monstrous!

Will doesn't often want to converse (unless it's about endangered animals or Minecraft mods), but Syd could not stop running her mouth if her life depended on it. Math this afternoon after our volunteer gig took hours--HOURS!!!--not because it was hard or unhappy, but because Syd could not stop running her dang mouth! When I absolutely had to tell her that I absolutely had to do some of my own work (I'm on a deadline), she had her fingers talk to each other for another half hour, just as happily as she'd been talking to me. Sigh...

Tina said...

Oh, man. How do you cope? Emma isn't normally this talkative, so she's fizzing out my brain cells with all this chatter. Sometimes I just want to tell her to shut up already! But I wouldn't do that because, well, I don't want her to think she can't talk to me.

I realize it's just a phase, but still. I actually told her today that if whatever she wanted to say didn't pertain to the right here and now, or wasn't a question she needed answered immediately, to write it down and I would look at them all the next morning. It did get me a few minutes of quiet.

julie said...

Honestly, much of the time Syd doesn't even need me to actually listen, but just to be, like, present. For instance, I just spent a couple of hours researching and writing my CAGW post for tomorrow while Syd sits on the other side of the table and piddles through her math. She doodled and talked about what she was drawing, pretended to be a snake, played games with the abacus, turned upside-down in her chair for a while, and although I know she was talking that entire time, I can't tell you the first thing about what she said. I only have to look up and pay attention when she says, "Hey, Momma!"

But yes. Inevitably, as soon as Matt gets home, even if I, myself, have been home all day, I find myself announcing to him that I am exhausted. It's mentally/emotionally taxing for me to be talked to all day!

Tina said...

Ok, glad to know it's not just me!


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