Domesticated

This evening I feel particularly domesticated. And nothing says domesticated like a good rant. [Oh, that’s just me? Well, carry on.]

We virtual school. My boys – Eldest, Middling, Third – attend a virtual public school. They have teachers. They have a thick curriculum in math, language arts, history, science, social studies, and arts. About this time each year, everyone runs out of steam. The boys balk at lessons they finished happily last week. I balk at their balking.

A balk-balk here, a balk-balk there, here a balk, there a balk, everywhere a balk, balk.

This week should be spring break. Emphasis on should. It is the state-mandated break for balkers and those out of steam. We are not taking that break. At least not yet.

I teach college level courses through an online university. And I have a few little publishing projects in the works. But I’m home ALL DAY. And my house is an UNHOLY MESS.

But I digress.

Domesticated. Ah, yes. That was the point I set out to make.

This year, as my balkers balked, I said, “How do you think you would really like brick-and-mortar school? Leaving the house at 7:30 am. Coming home at 4:00 pm. [Buses.] Then doing homework, preparing tomorrow’s lunch and snacks and water bottles, showering, eating dinner, and going to bed.” They said they could do it, no problem.

Challenge accepted.

Next week, I need to be available at any time for my day job [which I primarily do at night]. It seemed only right to move the boys’ spring break to next week and to use this week for our challenge.

Day 1. I was the late one. Not surprising. I totally would have missed the bus. We ROCKED school for about two hours before the old habits of breaks and balks reared their ugly heads. Pre-arranged snacks helped. We worked more. During lunch and the boys’ outdoor time, I managed to prepare dinner for cooking/baking, check in with my day job [which I largely do at night], send three publishing emails, and prepare two more emails that would need to be sent promptly at 3:00 pm [a picture book pitch contest].

Dude. I felt GREAT. But when afternoon school began…things quickly declined. Third put himself in our cozy feelings corner. He was tiiiiiiiiired. No two-hour rest and read period today. Nope. That’s not realistic for a brick-and-mortar setting. After some false starts and thinly veiled threats, we got back into the swing of things. Worked an hour or so and took a walk around the block. Resumed work. Sent oh-so-important-maybe emails. Ate snack. Dismissed at 4.

The boys played outside and made art for about an hour. Then homework. Spelling practice, reading – you know, homework. YIKE. This was not well received. Not one bit. But we made it. Dinner was had. Showers and tomorrow’s launch pad were tended. Not so bad as I expected.

Then again, today was a novelty. Tomorrow – we’ll see.

This is not a punishing experiment. In fact, there were things that I really enjoyed about today’s schedule. And the boys seemed to mostly do quite well.

I didn’t embark on this to say, “Bad brick-and-mortar school. Oppressive. Eviiiiil.” Not at all. I did it and will continue to do it this week to prove that no matter how you school, it is work. School (I include the play inherent in schooling) is the work of childhood and young adulthood. What I hope to show them are options – while you always have other options, all the options likely involve a fair amount of work.

And, while it has only been one day, I feel good about all I seemed to accomplish.

But then I turn to all the things I did not accomplish. I realize all over again that our choices are intricately balanced with too many factors to ever fairly judge anyone’s aggregate but our own. The choices I make and the reasons I make them – those are mine to determine and to survive. Likewise for you.

The truth is: We all do it all.

We all have people who count on us. We all have places that depend on our care. We all have responsibilities we must give proper attention. We all have hopes and dreams. Like a clean sink, for example.

Whatever that bundle of things we deem important, we manage it all alongside the joys and stresses of the day. It just looks so very different among us. Thankfully so. Maybe I’ll have less stress when you have more. I can help. Maybe you’ll have fewer responsibilities at the same time I have greater ones. You can help.

There is a reason we say it takes a village. Because options = good.

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