Mo is away camping with friends in the Keys overnight, so I’m sitting down to write, listening to my favorite Elliott Smith album. The music and the solitude are throwing me straight back to the first and only apartment I lived in alone. Between my first and second year of college I floated through a few apartments in New York with varied roommates, then ended up renting a studio in a strange old house in New Jersey that had been carved up mostly into rented rooms with shared bathrooms in the hall. My little apartment had high ceilings, brightly painted walls, a huge built in wooden loft bed, a tiny bathroom with a pink tiled stall shower and a kitchen about the same size. There was a refrigerator, a sink, and a two burner cook top, which was all I needed since I didn’t have any skill or desire to cook. That’s what Whole Foods take out was for, after all! I had no internet access and no computer anyway. (Can you imagine, college with no laptop? I feel old.) I would burn Nag Champa (you’re not surprised, I know), light some candles, sit on the floor, drink cheap red wine that a friend from my restaurant job probably bought me since I was eighteen, and write in a marble notebook. I can only imagine that it was probably really self conscious, melancholy poetry. It was such a great phase though, taking the time to sit alone with my thoughts and get them out on paper. One of my frustrations at this stage of my life is that my thoughts fly in and out of my head and get lost in the distractions of the day.
I could reminisce all night but I really came here to write an update of how the homeschooling experience is going! Basically, I feel like it is going great. There are a lot of ups and downs throughout each day, for all of us. Ben has a hard time dealing with disappointment. Ella has a hard time when she’s teething. I have a hard time when I get overwhelmed or don’t want to engage with the kids but can’t seem to take a real break. Thankfully Ben and Ella have been playing together more and more, chasing each other around, playing peekaboo, tickling, laughing, sharing secret jokes. This bonding and presence in each other’s everyday experience was one of the major reasons I wanted to homeschool, so I feel especially grateful and full of love when I see them interacting that way.
We have had two weeks with Ben’s classes in full swing, and so far we are pretty happy with how they are going. He is taking a Hebrew class on Monday mornings which is really wonderful. The facility is beautiful, the teachers are kind and competent, and the people running the show are totally organized and accommodating. He was really nervous the first day, but afterward he said that he had a great time. The second week he was nervous again because he felt like the other kids knew much more than him. Another reason I wanted to homeschool was to avoid perpetuating something I had seen beginning to develop even in Pre-K. Certain things came easily to Ben and he was praised for his success. Then he became reluctant to try anything he was not immediately good at. This is something I have struggled with since kindergarten myself, so I am extra sensitive about not passing on that mentality to my kids. It can be hard to remember to praise effort instead of product, and certainly the end result is sometimes a measure of success. However, I believe that this issue is worth keeping in mind, and I am glad that now we have the opportunity to encourage Ben in different areas than he was experiencing at school. Ben is also taking a Phys Ed class on Mondays which happens to be right after the Hebrew class, so I’m not sure yet whether we will continue with it.
On Tuesdays, Ben is taking two classes at an enrichment program for homeschoolers. I am so glad to be part of this beautiful organization. A large group of local families from all different backgrounds, with all different reasons for homeschooling, come together and hold classes in varied subjects for a very reasonable cost. Ben is taking a drumming class and a Lego robotics class, which are both awesome. He woke up this morning already excited about what they would be making in Lego class. I was also excited, because it is so gratifying to talk with the other parents who are there! I have already learned so much and enjoyed having conversations with the families we’ve met there.
So far we still don’t have anything official for Wednesday, Thursday, or Friday. I’m planning to make Wednesday or Thursday a visit to Young at Art, and Friday a park day, weather permitting. I would love to find something more to do for the rest of the week, but I don’t want to sign up for any more paid classes. I’m hoping that as we make more connections through the classes we are already doing we will be able to work out some kind of a meet up or trade with another family or families for Wednesday and Thursday. We’ll see how it unfolds.
This week I really tried to start off on a more organized foot. On Sunday I did all the laundry, changed the sheets and got some prep work done in the kitchen. I was ready for Monday morning when it came and it felt good to feel on top of my game. Now that it is Tuesday night I’m kind of fading in my enthusiasm and I have a lot to do to get ready for the holiday starting tomorrow night. We built a beautiful sukkah in our balcony so we are ready to celebrate the harvest festival of Sukkot for the next week! I’ll be back soon with a post about the holiday and hopefully some nice photos.
If you have a chance check out my new post on the Huffington Post Healthy Living Blog, a short piece about questions and answers.
Thanks for reading and Chag Sameach if you’re celebrating!