Today worked out well.
8 yo slept in because he was up at night with a stomachache. There was a homeschool day at the botanical garden, 9-12, so I told boys that if they want to go, we have to leave by 9:20, or we will not got at all. They started pretty slowly, but did breakfast, got dressed and davened. 6 yo bentched first two paragraphs by himself.I bentched everything with 8 yo.
We got to the gardens by 9:40. They had a small schedule, with garden tours, a class on amphibians, story time and scavenger hunt. Both boys picked up scavenger hunt pages, with 8 yo picking up the one geared towards 3rd-5th graders. I opted for story time assuming that 2 yo will at least have one activity for herself. The story time was disappointing: there was an older man reading from stage in a flat voice, while holding the book so it faced him. Flashing a picture every once in a while did not cut it. One of the books was Where the Wild Things Are. Now we will be going through long commemoration of Maurice Sendak, who passed away this week. 6 yo read the title from his seat and whispered to me that he's scared. 8 yo reassured him by saying that he read that book before and it is not scary, it's funny. 6 yo said that he might look away, but what can he do about listening to it? I offered for him to sit next to me, which he accepted. He did listen to it and was OK at the end.
It's funny, I always thought that he's the one most likely to relate well to Max, the king of the wild things, and would appreciate the ability to tame his emotions which get him in trouble all the time. But now I worry whether for him, those emotional monsters are much too real. To us, we are in control, we tame them by looking them square in the eye and we choose when we leave to go home. For him, all these boundaries and controls might be fuzzy.
This also brings me to finishing Vayeira with 8 yo. The last perek is Akiedat Yitzhak, the binding of Yitzhak. When I teach parsha, I skip that part. I am not so sure where 8 yo's sensitivities lay in that area. He know the jist of the story, I wonder whether doing it in depth might be a bit too traumatic. On the other hand, I do not want to skip or to hold him back from finishing the parsha. I still have a bit of time to figure out what to do, but I would take suggestions from those parents who taught it or opted to skip it.
Then we did a homeschooling garden tour. The group was us and a bunch of black muslim kids. It was civil. They boys followed the guide while I chased 2 yo. I learned that there are bullfrogs in all the ponds, which just got there by themselves. I also learned that the poison frogs hopping from leaf to leaf in the conservatory are not poisonous, since they are not fed poisonous insects. And that Venus flytrap should not be triggered for no reason, as it wastes too much of plant's energy to open up again. The boys oohed over all insects stuck in pitcher plants. All the while, they filled out their scavenger hunts without any input from me. 6 yo informed me that he will draw requisite plant and animal on the back in his language ( translation: a doodle).
We got home by 1, I put up gefilte fish and chicken and sat down to the only formal activity of today: parsha. We started discussing in the car who are the relatives for whose sake a cohen can become impure. The boys came up with 6 mentioned in the Torah. At home, they added the wife. I asked 8 yo to read the first few pesukim and 6 yo to draw this cohen's family. 8 yo obliged, 6 yo ran away tantruming. 8 yo completed the picture of Cohen family, with Mr, Mrs, Grandma and Grandpa Cohen, brother and sister and baby boy and baby girl Cohen. 8 yo asked why the mother is mentioned before the father, but he worded it that men are more important than women. I cringed, but I had to look it up quickly. One of the commentators said that it's a new thing here, since she is not necessarily a daughter of a Kohen, so it is stressed that even for her sake, he can become impure. I gave myself a mental pat on the back for being able to read a meforash on the spot. This homeschooling thing is really sharpening my skills! I explained about met mitzvah and about Cohen Gadol.
Then I quickly went over how both kohanim and korbanot had to be complete and of perfect appearance, so that their defects would not take away from the message of the avodah.
Next, I printed out a Jewish calendar and I told 8 yo that we will put in all the holidays that are in the Torah. He got a kick that the first mikreh kodesh is Shabbos. Pesach went well, I read the pesukim and he translated as much as he could, with me supplying the words he did not know. Then we got to maharat hashabat. He asked, which shabbat? He assumed it is one after Pesach, so he counted and overshot Shavuot. He guessed that it must be Shavuot, but reading about the waving of Omer somehow threw him off. Now, I have not been counting the Omer with the kids. I wait for my husband to count the omer with the bracha, and that happens after their bedtime. I got a sinking feeling that here we are, reading about 7 weeks, counting 50 days, and he has no idea what this is.I gave him a clue that the holiday at the end is something we still do. Somehow, he got it that Shavuot means weeks, so he counted backward from Shavuot. It slowly dawned on him that maharat hashabat might mean a day after the holiday.
I did the rest of the perek kind of quickly, he got the chagim in. I explained why some people choose to keep only Yom Kippur. I also read the pasuk about four species. By this point, he was done.
As a bonus activity, I asked him to count up all the mikr'ei kodesh. He got 7 days. I reminded him about shabbos. All in all, it took us over an hour.
I find it interesting that each one is a separate paragraph, with Hashem addressing Moshe anew. I have a feeling that all chagim were not given at the same time, but each was told over individually.
All of this time, 6 yo hung out in another room. I will find out on Shabbos whetheer he was listening or not.
Now the kids are watching a movie about roller coasters.