8yo's threat of the day: you know what happened to American colonies when they did not have any choices!
The boys had a wonderful sleepover at grandma's house. 2 yo enjoyed being the only child. I took her to the zoo, by herself. She told me which animals she wanted to see and, for once, her wishes were honored. She even bravely patted the goats. In the evening, she kept alternating between asking my husband and I to do things for her: bathe her, carry her to bed, put on pajamas, clip her nails, tuck her in.
In the morning, I ran some errands with her and then picked up the boys. My MIL sent a plate of Russian donuts (sirniki), which made a delicious lunch. After lunch I tried to get boys to do some schoolwork before we had to leave to tae kwon do. That's when the trouble started.
I decided to stick with the blocks approach, so I wrote few things down. 6 yo picked history of China. I read the next chapter from Story of the World. 8 yo came over to listen. We pulled out a map to see where the early Chinese lived: between Yellow and Yangzee rivers. 6 yo identified China on an unmarked map and found approximately the area of the rivers. Then I discovered that the boys stuck a bunch of flags on the map, and on the wrong countries, so now they were resticking them into correct places.
They saw a video on the list, and asked for it. It was this: Yogati veLoMatzati. I thought for a while that they need some reinforcement that hard work always pays off, and it introduces them to a saying from the Gemara at the same time. (And I thank Chabad profusely for producing something so appealing and so important.) They watched it, 8 yo said that it is not making him feel any better, but I saw that it made him think. I am trying to figure out how to download the song so that we can listen to it in the car.
Then I asked boys to pick the next item off their list while I cleaned up the next mess 2 yo made. 8 yo threw a fit. He said that there is nothing on the list he wants to do, why does 6 yo get to do history and he only gets boring things. He will not do anything. I cannot make him. He said he does not have good choices and then used the line about colonies (I do not have to worry whether he knows and understands history!) By this point my patience was running paper-thin. I told both boys to get started on math. 6 yo got his binder and got to work. Overall, I find that they do not find throwing fits at the same time advantageous. One of them wants to remain on mommy's good side, and he decided that it's his turn. 8 yo sulked and kicked and slammed things. I said, very calmly now, that tae kwon do is at 3:30 and if the work is not done by then, we are not going. I also said that if this kind of behavior will continue, he can come, but he will have to sit out.
He calmed down enough to do his work. I went to battle 2 yo down for her nap: she does not like when I leave the room, so no matter how many cuddles I give her, as soon as she senses that I am going, she does a death grip on my neck and starts yelling. I usually have to leave and shut the door. Attachment parents, call the police! She calms down after a few minutes and takes a nap, but it does leave me even more on edge.
I looked more closely at the work that 8yo is struggling with and printed out 1st grade basic addition review. I hope that he will refresh his facts, feel good about completing so many pages, and will be able to continue. There is a dichotomy between how quickly he grasps the concepts and how slowly he commits to memory anything that requires effort. Back to " I tried and I did not succeed..."
6yo asked to take a nap, he complained that he is tired. I tucked him in. He popped out fifteen minutes later: "Mommy, I have a Torah question: what if the people did not understand what Noach was saying and that's why they did not get on the ark?" Quiet and solitude produce deep thoughts.
He was happy to finish his work (reviewing Lama). He speedily read and translated one page, crumpled about doing the second, agreed to do it only if he reads everything first and translates later, speedily read the second and translated it without asking for help. We finished 12th chapter. He seems to remember his reading and vocabulary. I am hoping that this is a confidence-builder here.
8 yo finished math and started on journaling; more dinosaurs and prehistoric creature facts. He said that he got to the second chapter. I stopped him to do spelling and chumash. He said he hates them both. Then he showed me how he spelled "were" correctly in his journal, I mentioned again "I tried, and I succeeded" and he said he likes spelling. He liked spelling even more after he got all his review words right. Then he did not like spelling so much when some of the new words came out wrong. The emotions change like clouds in the sky.
Then we tried squeezing in Chumash before tae kwon do and that was a complete disaster. He did not remember the words from last time, then he turned accusatory, that I am making him do all this hard work. Ugh... the fun things parents farm out to teachers.
We barely made it to tae kwon do. 6 yo decided to sit out today, and I was so frazzled that I did not pursue the reasons why. 8 yo did great, got another notch on his belt, for achieving kicks, and was shining like a new penny. When we got back, he completed the chumash, unloaded the dishwasher, and went to play Pokemon cards with his brother.
Looking at the day now, with hindsight, I think the boys probably did not get enough sleep and that's the reason behind crankiness/sleepiness. Kick myself for the umpteenth time: no productive school takes place on such days. I made a bad choice trying to pursue my new theory, and 8 yo made a bad choice by not listening to me. Nobody won.