I knew this day would come. Leo is an extremely intense child. Everyone always asks me if it’s “hard” to homeschool him precisely because he’s so challenging. And, honestly, Schizz and I encounter multiple daily challenges with this little fellow. It’s just that, when I compare this year to last year, everything is lighter. On a day-to-day basis, things are easier around here. But today? Today was not a good day.
Remember how I told you guys that it was tough to get back into the homeschool swing of things after the holiday break? That it was tough but it also felt good to have our routine back? Yeah well, consider those words another cyber jinx because it has been nothing but dragging heels, whining, tears, and drama since then. And those who know Leo in real life know that his whining and drama and dragging of heels can be epic.
I promised I’d share it all – the good, the bad, and the ugly– when I started this blog. So here goes nothing. I’m not proud of it, but today I threatened to send him back. Yup, I did. I told him that I could pick up the phone, call the superintendent, and he could hop on that big yellow bus in the morning. In my frustration, I almost picked up the phone to fake call the superintendent but, thankfully, I’ve learned from past parental fibbers and I resisted the desperate impulse.
Today has been the worst day of our homeschooling journey thus far. There was no real incident, no true antecedent, nothing noteworthy to report- just a day filled with tears and opposition and whining and frustration. I knew there would be days like today and, frankly, I’m surprised there haven’t been more of them. I’m certain there will be worse days than today, too. Much like motherhood… am I right, homeschoolers?
Around two o’clock this afternoon, I threw in the towel. I sent the little guy upstairs with a book and told him to cuddle with Flap. Then I made a bonus cup of coffee because I felt it was deserved after all the drama. Every mom must take care of herself on rough days such as this one! And then I vented to my village, and of course, my village understood. Feeling understood eased my frustration, and then I read for a bit. Reading calms this mama as much as it calms her little guy.
After a bit, the guilt set in. It always does, doesn’t it? What could I have done differently? What should I have said? What should I do next time? Was this day a waste? Was he sad, upstairs in his room? I was no longer angry and frustrated. I just wanted to work it all out. The fact of the matter is, he might drive me crazy a lot of the time, but he’s an amazing little person. I might have wished for a break from his intensity today but I never wanted to send him on that big yellow bus. I know he’d be miserable in that first-grade classroom. I love having him here, learning beside him and from him.
I climbed the stairs to find him on his bed with the dazed and disheveled look of a child who has surprised himself with a nap. He looked at me while rubbing his sleepy eyes with one hand and flattening his unkempt hair with the other, and he smiled.
“Do you feel better, buddy?” I asked.
“Yeah. I was tired I think,” he replied.
I sat beside him on his tornado-boy bed, with books and crayons and origami scattered all over it. I always wonder how he can sleep like this, but I love that he can. I put my arm around him and he leaned his weight against me. I apologized for how our day had played out and he said he was sorry, too. That never happens and I honestly had tears.
“I think this day could be in the Guinness Book of World Records for worst homeschool day ever. What do you think, bud?” This made him laugh. He agreed with me, and then we had a fantastic conversation about what had gone wrong and what we could do differently tomorrow.
“Mum?” he said. “I don’t want to go to school tomorrow. I feel bad for those kids. They leave at eight and they don’t get home until four. When do they have fun?”
I kissed the top of his messy little noggin and said, “I have an idea. Let’s write down the date for today. It will be our worst homeschool day ever, and we’ll try to keep it that way. Like a contest.”
“YEAH!” he gushed, and then he asked to play a game with me. And so we did. We played three.
This rotten day went out on a sweet note, thank goodness.
What about you guys? What do you do on bad days? Do you call it quits? Do you mix it up? Do you have any tricks or strategies to share with this rookie homeschooler? Please share it here! I know we’re in for many more days like this one!
Some days are like that. Even in Australia.
~ Judith Viorst, Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible,
No Good, Very Bad Day