Thursday, April 14, 2011


OK, so I don't have kids in school and am not really aware of the complications and issues that arise in that situation. Lately, though, I have been channeling my inner 1970's era stay-at-home mom.

The last two weeks we have had early morning field trips to programs at the College of DuPage. Early morning means we had to plan to leave by 8:45 and hit pavement by no later than 9:00. This was a major problem for my family. Significantly worse than getting to the library by 11 a.m. when it is five minutes away, although some weeks even that takes herculean effort. Thanks to homeschooling, most of the time my kids can sleep until they are no longer tired. Most days that means 12 to 13 hours after they go to bed. Sometimes longer, sometimes shorter. It's a healthy set-up. Upsetting the system is nearly catastrophic. Luckily, the field trips have been worth the upheaval.

We also have had our first ever report card for Large, now age 12. This came a few months ago, but was only significant to me. Large has been taking classes in ballet and jazz at the Academy of the Joffrey Ballet in Chicago. He received straight A's. It was meaningless to him, the only accomplishment he feels is in his own improvement and the enjoyment he receives from his classes. He would have felt the same way about himself had he received straight C's or D's.

With my Mom, however, I have had both the call from the Principal and the Nurse's office. My mother is not a child and is not treated like one. I received a call from her Assisted Living facility telling me she was a security risk because she tried to take a walk with another resident and got lost. It felt very much like I imagine the calls to the parents who's kid punched another kid on the bus feels like. (Hey, wait. That was me in the 8th grade!) Except that in addition to breaking the rules, they were mostly concerned about my Mom's safety and well-being. I suppose that could be the same case in schools, but tend to believe it is not. The Assisted Living folks were really concerned that she could just wander off and get lost. I know it all came about because I was gone for four days and wasn't able to take her out for walks. In a school setting, probably, the whole issue would have been about the rule infraction.

When I got a call from the nurse because my mother still does not feel up to a full meal because of a head cold, it was like all the times my mother was called when one of us had thrown up at school. Except that my mother is a frail elderly adult, not a child with a stomach bug. Kids with a fever or vomiting at school are a threat to everyone else. An elderly person with a cold is primarly a threat only to herself.

Through much negotiating, with assistance from my brother and paying someone to take her for walks, we were able to secure my mother her freedom again. And now we will work out a system to get her some cold medicine to ease her discomfort. I will get her more groceries. Life will be good again, spring will come and illness will pass.

My kids will continue to get the sleep they need. They will continue to feel about themselves what they do and not take much notice of outside evaluation. They know what they are good at and what they like to do. When they were younger at park district programs, they couldn't understand why the instructor gave them candy for a correct answer. Now they just think that grown-ups are weird with school-aged kids, unless the adults are homeschooling parents.

I, on the other hand, have been reliving my nightmares of sitting outside the Principal's office preparing a passionate speech about my justifications for slugging the brute on the bus. Trust me, it was a good speech

Monday, April 4, 2011

Learning Styles

As is usual on Saturdays this year, Large has ballet and jazz classes at the Academy of the Joffrey Ballet. He loves them. I have been enjoying the 3 hours of uninterrupted time to work on the InHome Conference. Three hours of being interrupted only be text messages is a wondrous thing to a busy mom.

With the conference just past a week ago, Medium and I decided to do something we had been wanting to do for some time. We went to the Art Institute, purchased an audio tour and immersed ourselves in the John Marin watercolor exhibit. We spent an enjoyable hour looking at the paintings and listening to the explanations on the headsets. We had seen the exhibit a few weeks earlier and wanted to learn more. Medium loves this sort of thing. A few weeks ago we breezed in for a quick lunchtime lecture on the Chagall windows. She was by far the youngest in the crowd and listened intently to the lecturer. She is the reason we purchased a higher level membership at the Brookfield Zoo, because the lecture series will be free for us. She reads every sign in museum exhibits.

My boys may have been interested in the audio tour, although probably not for the entire duration. They also learn a lot from museum exhibits, but in different ways. It is nice to be able to take one child, addressing their needs as individuals whenever possible. At the same time as our visit to the Art Institute, Large was pursuing his passion for dance and Small was showing his Grandma the delights of the Children's Garden at the Morton Arboretum.

We are very lucky indeed.