Monday, October 29, 2012


I informed my kids that we will have school this morning, That was not accepted lovingly, just to put it mildly. 2 yo woke up at 5:30, just as my husband was coming home from a delivery (I did not know that he left to deliver). So we camped out on the couch. She wanted to look at her pictures, she wanted to snuggle up, I was taking too much space. The boys came out, 6 yo first: "Mommy, today is my promotion!" He is getting tested for the next tae kwon do belt.

I figured that no sleep is coming my way, and the kids started bickering. I send them to get dressed, with the promise of french toast for breakfast. It's the best way to use leftover challah, and everyone seems to like it.

During breakfast, I announced that we will have some school in the morning, while daddy attends his continual medical education classes. It was supposed to be for an hour or two. I also explained that tomorrow we're going to Spivey Hall, so we will miss the morning's schoolwork anyway. I wrote out four things each: math, Lashon HaTorah, handwriting and script, and Lama and Chumash, with leaf raking and scarecrow making as bonus activities.

8yo started with math. He had review, but he was drawing it out, singing, making careless mistakes. 6 yo started with Lama, and then "suffered" through it: threw himself on the floor, threw his pencil, cried how he can't do it, etc. Voluntarily he went to his room a few times, to complete work without interruptions. The funny thing is: he knew all the answers, he was able to write them all down, but the perception of the task's difficulty was clouding his ability to sit down and get it done.

Then 8 yo moved on to script, while 6 yo started math. Same story with math: he can do all the problems, but the text insists on drawing illustrations, and he gets completely stumped, even though I DO NOT require him to draw anything, only to solve the problems.

Next was Lashon HaTorah. 8 yo finished his in a flash and we started 24th perek in Chayei Sarah. He wanted to do four pesukim; no objections from me. We got to "moshel". I explained the word's meaning and wrote down "rosh hamemshala", with translation. He immediately quoted back from Yishtabach: oz u'memshala. We high-fived.

Then he asked about that strange swearing under the thigh. I brought in Rashi. He lit up when he realized that it had to do with the brit mila. Those are the nicest moments; I feel grateful to be his teacher and experience with him the discovery of wisdom. It is amazing to see that there is a difficulty in the text, wait for him to ask a question, and then point to a right Rashi, watch him start reading it, propose his own explanation, then see what Rashi has to say and then glow with enlightenment.

For myself, I have seen these parshiyot for so many years by now. I learned them in depth in high school, but the level of new clarity and new questions is still astounding. I see these pesukim in a new light, and new ideas, or long-forgotten commentaries now make more sense.

6 yo finished math, then did handwriting and Lashon HaTorah in a jiffy. He remembered about plural suffixes, what they are and  what they do.

Then the extracurricular leaf raking commenced. The rakes were located, and the leaf pile grew and grew. I know that this is the first raking of the season and the enthusiasm is bound to wane, but for now, it is nice to see the boys working together and enjoying it.

Well, I messed up and the promotion test is on Monday. That gave us a whole unscheduled afternoon that was filled with some TV watching.

My husband found a pair of dirty socks belonging to 8 yo in the basement. He fumed (not the first time it happened). I fumed too, but then I proposed turning this into a consequence: let him go and pick them up and, since I already finished all the laundry, hand wash them. I called 8 yo off in the middle of his movie. It took him a few minutes to find the socks and then I took him to the bathroom and showed him how to wet them, rub with soap, scrub, rinse and wring them out. The funny part was: he found the whole activity enjoyable, probably because he never had to do it before. Both my husband and I reminisced how we had to wash our own socks as kids, regularly, as a necessity, and there was nothing fun about that. Now my son has a life-long skill of being able to wash his clothes in case he runs out and (gasp) there is no washing machine nearby.

To top the day off, I got to overhear this conversation between the boys:

6 yo: Did you like it when you were going to school?
8 yo: Yes!
-So why did you want to be homeschooled? Did you want to be like me?
-No, I wanted to have fun and get a good education. And have more field trips. Hey, Mom, when are we going on a field trip?
Me: Tomorrow, to a concert in Spivey Hall, then, next week to a governor's mansion and the Capitol. What about NY trip? We could have not done it if you weren't homeschooled!

I guess he's warming up to the idea of school at home, after all.

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