I’m an over-doer. Why have plain Halloween cupcakes if you can have fabulous upside-down-ice-cream-cone-witch-hat cupcakes? (Because life is not Pinterest) Why have a couple friends over for dinner if you can throw a full on soiree? (Because it’s easier to enjoy your company if you’re not pulling out your hair) If three strands of Christmas lights are good, six will be even better, and ten will be best. I’m all about the best. It’s just I often confuse “more” with “best.”
Homeschooling was no different. I spent months researching, sampling, and scheduling curricula and activities. I had spreadsheets and 3 four inch binders filled with lesson plans. I wanted to do everything that traditional school did, except Better! and More! By the first day of homeschool this is what I had lined up for my 3rd grade daughter and kindergarten son:
- Intensive hands-on phonics program for learning to read (Saxon Phonics)
- Literature based history program that involved hours of read aloud plus individual reading.
- Supplemental history program that involved crafts and projects
- Rosetta Stone Spanish
- Intensive math programs (again Saxon) for both 3rd grade and 1st grade – since Grey was already adding and subtracting
- A project based science curriculum
- Nature Study
- Character Education curriculum
- Grammar program for 3rd grade
- Additional vocabulary for 3rd grade
- Writing curriculum for 3rd grade
- Art curriculum
- Composer studies
- Spelling program
- A poetry memorization program
This was in addition to running club which met twice a week and dozens of other community offerings I was determined to take advantage of.
This is Zoë and Grey on the first day of “school”.
Look how happy they are! Look how unsuspecting…
They’d just eaten what would become the traditional back to school breakfast: a build-your-own Belgian waffle bar, including berries, bananas, peaches, whipped cream, sour cream, maple syrup, strawberry syrup, chocolate chips, and nuts. I told you I’m an over-doer.
Those things they’re holding are Schultütes. They are full of fun school supplies, trinkets, and candy. It’s a German thing.
No, we’re not German.
They don’t know about the binders. They don’t know about the workbooks. They have absolutely no idea what’s in store for them. That’s ok. Neither do I. I limp, exhausted, but exhilarated through the first week, and then I discover this:
Here’s a kindergarten math lesson for you: Let’s count the white blobs in the middle of the big black blob. TWO! That’s right! Very good.
Moving on…Except I couldn’t move. At least not very far from the bathroom. I’d never been so sick in all my life. All I craved was my bed. Of course that wasn’t an option.
I had this little one to look after, and there was something else I was supposed to be doing… Oh yeah. EDUCATING.MY.CHILDREN.
Now, not only did I need to cram all this stuff into their little brains, but I had to do it fast. I’d assumed that we’d follow the public school schedule so my kids’ breaks would line up with their friends’ breaks. Homeschool was going to end the last week of May. Except I was due the first week of May, and since I was pregnant with identical twins, I wouldn’t be allowed to carry beyond 37 weeks: the second week of April. I was the definition of screwed. No pun intended.
We struggled. We gimped along. I had to go to a bazillion doctor’s appointments a week (fine. 2) which often conflicted with community homeschool activities. My friends stepped up, just like they said they would. The amazing Ms. Margaret, who we barely knew from church, adopted us as her stand-in grandkids and not only watched Juliette, but helped Zoë and Grey with their assignments. She just happened to be a retired math and gifted-education teacher.
Even though nothing was going according to schedule, homeschooling was everything I hoped it would be. Grey learned to read and I got to be there as he discovered that C-A-T was “cat.” A cat! Zoë fell in love with Greek mythology and taught herself to write the Greek alphabet. She put together a 20 page report about all the Greek gods, an assignment she gave herself. I threw out the writing prompts.
My two eldest children, who had spent the last two years screaming at each other were actually kinder to each other with so much time together, not, as I feared, even more burned out. Zoë looked at Grey’s first attempts at writing and said, winking, “You didn’t write that! That looks like the President’s handwriting!” They took turns snuggling Juliette and rolling balls across the floor for her to chase.
On March 27th, I went to the doctor AGAIN, only to be told that my girls had suddenly developed Twin to Twin Transfusion Syndrome. This was what we’d been watching out for. TTTS is a complication of identical twin pregnancies where one twin begins “donating” all of her blood and nutrients to the other twin. The “donator” stops growing and becomes anemic. The “recipient” becomes glutted and sluggish. Both babies can suffer lifelong complications as well as death if they are not delivered. I was 34 weeks pregnant.
I was three months behind schedule for my kids’ schooling. I had WAY bigger problems.