No, I’m not talking the kind where the school district gets out of hand and sends truant officers to your door with police officers and threatens to arrest you and take away your children if you don’t let them do a warrantless search of your home RIGHT NOW, even though you have the receipt from your certified mail postage when you sent your Declaration of Intent in hand, plus HSLDA on the phone.
That sort of thing has, so far, happened to other people but not me. Yet.
No, this is the sort of homeschool war of the species Parent Teacher vs. Unwilling Students that Haven’t Yet Given Up On Summer Vacation.
As in: I call the kids for schooltime (all right, it’s 1:30 in the afternoon, because said Teacher is still operating on Summer Time as well)… and they whine and complain and delay as looong as possible, begging to finish their book/game/LEGO project and requesting every variation of meal/snack/drink they can think of to put off the inevitable. This results in school not actually getting underway until 2:00.
Once school is in session, the Unenthusiastic Student Body then attempts to break up the lesson by picking fights, picking noses, throwing tantrums, playing with the toddler (or pinching him), and complaining that they can’t see/hear/understand/think-because-he’s-sticking-his-tongue-out-at-me.
When this doesn’t work, they sulk, crossing their arms and throwing out their bottom lips, and whispering answers. When that doesn’t work, they BELLOW.
Obviously, we need an attitude change. Sometimes a quick praise song and a prayer help. Sometimes it doesn’t. Letting them take a recess at this point is tantamount to surrender, so THAT AIN’T HAPPENING, FOLKS. Siddown and enjoy the science, I say.
Inevitably, the phone rings. It’s either the mechanic, the doctor, the in-laws, or the friend I’ve been desperately trying to reach for over a month now… so I have to take the call. The Unassimilated immediately sprint for the woods in an effort to get as far out of earshot as possible, leaving the younger one or two to follow Mom from room to room, roaring, while she desperately looks for a room with (a) a door that locks, and (b) enough space – or a closet – to deaden the sound of the frantic door-pounding by the toddler.
Afterwards, it’s back to square one.
We’ve been in school a month, and we’re already a week behind.
Enter Daddy the Principal, who Offers Previously Unknown Delights – which, if used correctly, can function as a powerful carrot and one whale of a mighty stick. At dinner, he lets slip that the circus is coming to town. He’s willing to buy tickets.
The enthusiasm! The rejoicing! The “Daddy, you’re the best parent EVER IN THE WHOLE WIDE WORLD”s!
After dinner, I retreat to the garage, ostensibly to sort through some tomatoes (don’t ask), but in reality to get away from the sullen masses who are once again doing their utmost to avoid their homework. Upon returning from the garage, I witness a mass stampede away from the train-and-toy-car extravaganza, complete with a shouted, “Quick! Get to the table! Mom’s coming!”
A hurried parent/teacher/principal conference then ensues in the kitchen, to the tune of “They Are Driving Me Crazy” and “How Do We Persuade Them To Get Their Work Done”, accompanied by the dirge “I Swear I May Have To Burn Every Toy In The House.”
To which my knight in shining armor merely replies, “Well – make their attendance at the circus dependent on their getting the work done. Make them a list.”
The angels sing, the sun shines, and the Teacher makes a beeline to the computer to create said lists.
It will be interesting to see if this works. The kids go to bed early, in order to, in their words, “Get up early and get started on school.”
I inform them that there will be NO MERCY. They will have to get completely caught up in order to go… and there is no guarantee that there will be tickets available on circus night, so they’d best get done early. They have some serious catching up to do. The worst – and it truly is the worst of it – is that one child has ELEVEN math lessons to get done in the next six days if she’s going to make it. In addition to science, piano, handwriting, grammar, spelling, history…. my young rebellious procrastinators have felt the fiery breath of The Deadline and it remains to be seen if they will slay their dragons in time or not.
‘Cause, see, I’m staying home with the toddler, with or without juvenile delinquents! They can do the work or miss out. Their choice!
Will it work? Will the young hedonists buckle down and clean out their Aegean stables before their time runs out? There better not be any rivers diverted through the living room…
News at Eleven.