Friday, August 8, 2008

School Park Disaster

Well, I have to let some of this anger and frustration out so here I am typing it. If you would rather read something sunny move on to another posting....

What a total disaster! And what makes me so mad is that I have had such a great 3 weeks with my children. Amazingly, we are at Friday of our first homeschool week and we have done school everyday...even if it wasn't until late afternoon....so things are going so well and the air outside is a little breezy...not the scorching 100 degrees that it has been so much lately....I took a deep breath of the upper 70 degree fresh outdoor air and got a wild hair...

why not do school outside....why not go to the greenway...a park/walking area that is so close to home...hey, we could even stop at the new donut shop on the way...have a donut and milk lunch for fun...and then do school in the park...why not...everything has been going pretty well...the children seem like they are really engaged in learning this year..oh, boy we can do this...finally we really can.

So we hit the donut shop first. I like the owner so much. He reminds me of a giving grandpa. Who would have known that today they were offering free lunch...trying something new...did I want turkey, ham, egg salad, tuna, chicken salad...well, look at that I was planning on eating sugar for lunch and I get a chicken salad sandwich. The only catch is that we have to eat our lunch at the store, which is no big deal...we were going to do that anyway....

My children prefer the donuts to the sandwich and I don't care...we were going to have donuts anyway. So I let them each pick two donuts and chocolate milk. David gets one big cinnamon bun to count for his two. Andrew gets two chocolate covered sprinkles and Angela gets two glaze...playing it safe! I get my two favorite a lemon jelly filled and a chocolate covered sprinkle one.

After they finish the donuts the owner brings them not one but two ice cream sandwiches each! Well, that is what I call spoiling...but this is going to be a fun ...different day...so its fine with me.

We finally get in the car and head toward the greenway. When I park the car and get out, all three of the just sit ....and don't budge..."it's too hot..." mumbles someone..."come on lets go" I gleefully cheer....ever the optimist....you think I would have learned by now...you think I would expect the worse...but the "cup half-full" mom loads her three up with bags carrying books and supplies and we head down the trail.

My middle son, 13, is speeding away..."Hey, wait, slow down, I can't keep up.." I plead. "I'm walking the same speed as you," comes a newly deep voice. "Will you please slow down, I doing the best I can." His pace slows.

"Hey, what about those big rocks ahead...want to sit on them" "Those! There off the path...They put a path here to tell you where to walk and I don't see any path over there" As I get closer...it looks like two rock ledges...suspended in space...well, maybe not the best spot to do outdoor school but it would be different. We journey on.

"Do people camp here?" asks my daughter, my youngest, 11, "I see the grills and space, people must camp here." "No, greenway closes at dark....but you can cook during the day," I let her know.

A few minutes later, and making sure we don't get too far down the trail (I'm remembering that we have to make it back), I suggest another location...in the shade. "What about over there?" "Over there...were are we going to sit...I don't see a table...I need a table to do my math work...you mean we are going to sit on the ground...Are there any bees or wasp or snakes here?" "Just sit down and use some bug spray." I start to spray my children's legs..."I don't want to smell like bug spray...don't do that," quips my oldest. I had the spray to my other children and they gladly use it...Angela even sprays the ground where she is going to sit over and over...."give me that, you are going to use all the spray."

I decide to take a picture or two ...think...hmm..might be nice for my blog...so sweet ... schooling in the greenway...what could be nicer.. "why are you taking a picture of us...doing school..." Ok, so I put the camera down.

"Take out your Bible book...The mind of Christ." One or two move, pick up the book...open it....put it back down..."Open up your book to page 15..." "Come on, pick up the book" getting a little frustrated having to repeat myself but I try to relax. "Ok, what are the four characteristics of Christ that we have already gone over..." "Pure, .....lowly...single-minded...alive". Each of them give at least one answer. So far so good...."so what is pure..." Angela answers. In an attempt to get a conversation going, I probe, "What makes us not pure?" "Pollution!" states Andrew pointing toward the not so clear river. (Ok, it is not the Bahama's...) "What makes us not pure?" "TV," again Angela is still engaged. "well, some things on TV are not good to see"....the conversation drags on Andrew has none of his blanks filled out..."I didn't do my Bible homework"....David is not much interested. Angela has a really cool insight...."It is kind of like a water filter...dirty water goes in...and our mind filters it and what enters into our heart is pure..." Wow! I like that! "Let's all draw a little picture of a water filter...any kind you like...just so we can remember this illustration..."I don't have a pencil." "I do, I'll get it."

So we are all finished Bible, they have gotten their assignment for Monday. Not too bad and Angela has a pretty good insight. "Andrew, give out the new dry erase boards." Let's do our spelling differently today. "I want you to write on the lined side." "Can I write on the white side." A little tiffed I repeat myself a little slowly, "I want you to write on the lined side."

I start giving the words..."what"...."listen to the word" "good" "show your board" "no, it has an 'i' in it" "David, try to write on the lines...a little neater...stop baring down so hard on the pen" "Where's my eraser?" "Is this right?" "Andrew, that's right show David your board." "Good" "No, that is still not right." "Andrew, show him your board again." "The word is a contraction." "Put the apostrophe where the letter is missing...no not before the n...what letter is missing?" "the t" "no" "the n" "no"..."come on guys...how do you spell not...now what letter is ..... "the o" Finally! "David, come up and sit by me..." I try to help him but he really doesn't care...he doesn't want to do this...

my mind starts going...what am I doing this far? why did I even come? how did I think they were going to act? It never works? Why don't I learn?..."give me your board and your pens" "why?" "we are leaving" "why?"...."you tell me why"..."I wasn't obeying and listening." "I didn't do anything wrong!" says one of my children pretty defiantly. His tone really makes me mad! Locking eyes with him, "Don't you ever talk to me that way, in that tone, how dare you!..." I match his words sharply. Boy, that makes me so mad....how can he act like that...he wont even take an honest look at himself...he wont take responsibility...

"Get the bags packed. We are going home" I grab the big filing box and start to fast pace hick down the trail back toward the car. I am steaming but the brisk walk and shifting the weight of the filing box helps me to burn off some of my negative emotion...I bite my tongue...I don't want to say anything I will regret...Keep it in....Keep it in..."

I glance back...they are heading on the path...I turn to them...I get a flash of so many times before that I had tried this at all different ages and it never worked out...didn't matter if we came to look at bugs and birds, to ride our bikes, to walk, to nature draw....it always ended in frustration...the gripes ....the complaining...the "I-wantta-do"...Why can't it ever turn out pleasant..."It is always the same. I never could take you here. I don't know how many times I tried this. And it never worked out!" I blurt toward my children.

Oh, that was real good...frustrated I head on full steam ahead. Walking back gives me time to figure out what to do...I have them load the "stuff" into the front seat and put all three of them in the back. I don't even want to see them...I flip up the rear view mirror...Just seeing them makes me mad...I think of the pictures I took...so fake...not real...I want to poke sharpened pencils into them. I take several slow deep breaths. I want to cry but can't...can't let them know they got to me....I have to remain mom....I can't crumble...I have to carefully speak...I wonder....am I treating them wrong...have I blown it...did I overreact...why doesn't anything work out...I try so hard to be fun...to do things differently...to be spunky...and this is what I usually get in return...no enthusiasm...no thanks...no appreciation...no love.

I let them know that they will complete all there school work when we get home...I want them to go straight to their rooms...no talking...I hand them their math stuff and off they go...I'm left sitting a moment in the car...I reach down to get my jelly and chocolate covered sprinkled donut...they are mashed in the bag....kind of like what happen today....something that could have been good...fun...a nice change of pace...got smashed.

Don't know if or when I will try that again....

2 comments:

  1. I think you need to give yourself a break! I am both a homeschooler and a long-term sub and I have NEVER been around kids that didn't have an "I wantta do this or that" time when we were out for an extended period of time. I think it is appropriate to let your children know how you feel - perhaps this can be a learning moment for them and if you did attempt to take them out to do school again, they would have a clearer idea of what your expectations are. Three kids are a lot of work even if you're not homeschooling, so I really respect the investment that you're willing to make in raising them and teaching them. Don't give up on schooling them outside - it is such a wonderful gift. I would let them know expectations ahead of time, give them each a chance to question or comment on activities, and go from there. Keep up the good fight!

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  2. Thank you for you comments and suggests. Yes, I am too hard on myself and I don't give myself enough credit for the things I do right. I will try again and next time I will only due one or two subjects, less time and more explations of what to expect.

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