Wednesday, December 11, 2013
My son was hot today and that's what it finally took to shake me awake today.
The last two weeks have been very difficult – both for me and the boys. Although I thought our weeklong break at Thanksgiving would have given us enough of a break for us to start our third 6-week schedule, we have barely finished a week's worth of work after eight school days. Of course, it didn't help that we had two snow days this week (I know, I know, a homeschooler doesn't really HAVE snow days, but..oh, well, we needed them :), but those actually helped.
Our most serious school work dysfunction started the week before Thanksgiving and I figured it was excitement over the holiday. We took Thanksgiving week off and entertained, visited and traveled to see family in a fun week. We returned from our last family visit from out of state late Sunday night on December 1st...and all forward progress stopped at that point, I'm afraid. Because I hadn't taken time to really figure out our lesson plan for the last month of the year, we didn't have a real game plan and I'm afraid it showed. It really set me up for a rough time, but no matter what I did, I couldn't figure out what to do next. I felt panicked and paralyzed and had no idea why. I was increasely aware that we were falling behind in art, religion and health.
We limped along for the week, doing our daily spelling, reading, basic science and history and some math. Danny is thoroughly stuck on his triple digit multiplication, so I spent extra time just walking him through all his exercises and abbreviating all his work and quizzes, but it is still trying on his spirit. He “got” some parts a little on Wednesday when I tried a new review approach and we had a brief celebration, but he still couldn't complete the unit quiz that followed, so I started foundering at that point. Then Wednesday afternoon our PE teacher at the Y was a no-show due to a scheduling snafu, so the boys lost some decompression time, which didn't help either.
Thursday was interesting at band practice. Our lovely Encore Academy instructor is extraordinarily patient and funny with the kids but after Danny's 5th or 6th question about when the class would finally end, she jokingly said that the band wasn't finished but if he was done, he could pack up and leave. Which he immediately did. She was totally gobsmacked and couldn't believe he did it (she had no idea he was on the autism spectrum and takes everything literally)! But Danny did what was perfectly logical and what she offered, so I understood what had happened. After class, I explained it to him and what to do next time (when he needs a break, just asked to be excused to the restroom until he is ready to rejoin us) and explained it to Mindy in an email later. Nothing major, but I felt like a stress sandwich that was getting more and more layers and it was getting more than I could handle.
This past weekend gave me my first breathing room in weeks and Monday and Tuesday were our first official “snow days”, which was a true blessing. We used the weekend to finish putting up the tree and getting some work done on the front yard so we can eventually put up Christmas lights outside...maybe. After a week of being home, I FINALLY got the suitcases unpacked and caught up on MOST of the laundry (this just reminded that I need to get Ben's clothes in the wash if I want him to have ANY clean pants tomorrow...) and the dishes done. Sort of. By Monday we had some semblance of order again and I thanked God all day Monday for this excuse to put school aside for another day and pray for inspiration – along with running errands and going for a huge grocery store run.
Tuesday gave us a second snow “storm” and a true snow day. This was the first time I actually felt like I could breathe. My brain had sorted out a little but the anxiety/panic of not knowing what to do for school was still bubbling under the surface. It's not that I don't have the curriculum – I do! It's more – something about missing something, not doing enough, not teaching the boys what they will really need. When Danny gets totally log-jammed in his brain (usually about math), I go into this panic mode because I know the school system definitely didn't help him when that happened and if I can't, then where do I go and what do I do?! I don't trust counselors or psychologists anymore (this is a long story involving another child and trust me – you wouldn't go back either), so unless I schlep him up to Kennedy Krieger every time I need help, I'm on my own here. Sometimes the weight of the responsibility for all four of my wonderful, unique and amazing children is too much to bear. Not that I don't want to...I sometimes don't believe I am able.
But God always finds a way. You know the old saying that if you are really strong you bend, not break? Well, I am blessed that God always seems to show me a way to bend when I think I will finally break.
Today, we had an “okay” day at school. Danny was still struggling to concentrate at all and Benjamin was being a goofball at a record rate. Both of them kept our progress all morning to a snail's pace and although I tried to be goodnatured about it for the first hour or so, by the second hour I had really lost patience. We did manage to finish our daily spelling, a Nativity bible lesson from the gospels along with a worksheet, the second chapter of Caddie Woodlawn (Yea! Finally a book I know and loved as a child!) and a really good instrument practice. We trotted over to the YMCA for our PE class and got there on time. Check. I took my brief break to run our Angel Tree gifts over to the church and got that checked off my list, along with connecting with my Avon customers from church. Check. When I got back, I was ready to pick up the boys and finish the 3 or 4 final subjects for the day before I picked up my granddaughter after school, made dinner and took the boys to church choir.
And then I bent. Danny came out of the PE gym with his winter coat on over his sweating body. He had the hood up and almost covering his face and I knew something had changed. He had said numerous times all day that he was just having a terrible day. I knew that it mostly stemmed from the internet being out and he couldn't listen to his favorite songs streamed on his tablet, but I didn't realize it had gotten so bad. I just had to stop trying to push all of us forward with our schedule and stop to listen to his pain. Only part of his face was peaking out and he either had sweat or tears on his cheeks when I asked him why he wanted to be hot. He said that “it was the only thing that makes me feel better because the day was so bad”. I'm not exactly sure what words he used, but I knew that what his heart was trying to tell me was that he wanted to make his outside – his body – feel as bad as his inside – his spirit – felt. And that was it for me. All the anger flew out of me and all the love and care came racing in.
From that point on, I threw out the schedule and started ministering to my children's hearts again. And immediately my panic and anxiety totally lifted. We went to our favorite snack shop and we picked out our favorite food, which I usually ration out. But not today. I was blessed again when my granddaughter's other grandmother spontaneously offered to pick her up from school and that was off my plate. Then we went home and watched a BBC video (since the internet still isn't working – wah wah wah) and relaxed. I cancelled the rest of our classes and also decided to take church choir off our schedule for the night, too. I know we will fall behind on our schedule this session. I know I may need to drop back and punt next year, but right now I don't care. I started homeschool to take care of my sons' needs, education AND hearts and that's what I need to do. And by nurturing them, I nurture me, I nurture US.