I usually reassure them that it’s not that bad. That’s it’s like when they were babies. It’s overwhelming at first, but that you eventually settle in. Which is all true. But also kind of a lie.
There are days, like most of last week, when being around the boys feels like a long, slow tooth extraction, without pain meds. “Just get it out already!”
Which is why, even thought I miss them when they are gone for even a few hours, it’s helpful for my sanity – and theirs – that they take a few classes with someone other than me. On Wednesdays, I drop them off with at the home of one of the boys who comes here on Mondays. His mother Lisa teaches a science class from nine to ten-thirty. This semester she’s teaching a class on simple machines. Yesterday was the first day of the class, and it was amazing. They had watched a bunch of videos about simple machines before class, so they could jump right into yesterday. They talked about the properties of inclined planes and the relationship between work, effort (force), and distance. Then they started building stuff. It’s exactly the kind of science I have always wanted to do with the boys but haven’t had the energy to pull off.
After class, they eat and play for half an hour before they take a literature class with another mother, Susan, with whom I co-teach the humanities class. The kids are reading (or listening to) Tom Sawyer, and yesterday was their first class. The boys loved it. Ezra told the teacher that, “Tom Sawyer is my new role model. He gets away with everything and he’s so bad.”
And all the while, I was at Panera writing with my friend Kathy.
It’s true that you get used to spending exactly as much time with your children as you choose to. And leaning in to the dread of spending so much time with the boys has taught me a lot about myself. I’ve become less selfish by extending myself to them the way I do. But I’ve also become more appreciative of the time that I’m not with them.
For one thing, it helps me appreciate Thursdays, when I spend the day with the two boys and two of the girls from our group. And appreciate today I did. Shayla taught Zach and Ezra to use a knitting loom and they both started on hats. They did that and read for a couple of hours while Sol finished her scrapbook.
Ezra took off for an hour at noon to walk to the local public school, where he gets services for his dyslexia and fine motor skills. He loves working with the occupational therapist and special education teacher.. (Maybe it’s not just me who likes to get a break from all our togetherness.)
While he was gone, Shayla, Zach and I headed to the printer to pick up the bound copies of the books they all wrote. Lots of jumping up and down and squealing. It’s like they couldn’t quite believe that they had made them.
In the afternoon, the kids all spent an hour-and-a-half on science homework, and then we went to Whole Foods so they could eat ice cream and I could read a chapter from How Things Work about inclined planes. It was fascinating. If you’ve read this blog for a while, you’ll know that I have an engineering degree and yet know almost nothing about science. Oh well, I know a little more after this afternoon.
So there you have it : One morning to myself so that I can better be present on the next. That’s how things work around here.