Or at least something resembling a groove. No it doesn’t yet look like this. It never will look exactly like a perfect world.
Real life isn’t a straight road, with everything visible, everything expected. Who would want it that way?
My family is unexpectedly helping out a friend. It is a blessing to do so—for what would life be worth without relationships?
My Dad goes in for hip surgery this coming week. His last hip surgery went better than could have ever been expected, so we have high hopes for this one.
Russ has been busy, busy with work and coaching. The boys (Russ, Levi, and Luke) started back to swim team practices last week.
This week we added choir to our schedule on Mondays. I am so stinkin’ excited about this opportunity for the boys. The director is fabulous, and choir practice is held right after CC at the same location. (Leif is in a younger choir that meets while Levi and Luke are in their afternoon Essentials class.)
It’s a busy birthday season in my family. Lola turns three on Tuesday, and I still have no idea when exactly we will have her party. It might end up being a Bambi, Lola, Poppy party. Ivy and Ben had to share earlier this month…
This week I needed to figure out a way to keep everyone productive and moving forward, in spite of interruptions or distractions or failures in routine. Everything would come to a grinding halt (and often impossible to reign back into focus) if I had to help one child and turn my back on the others.
So I created this:
I always knew that my two older sons were very different from one another, but that truth is more manifest than ever.
One son is a list maniac. Before I had the above list printed, he would beg for one. WHAT do I need to do in order to play on my computer? Tell me what I need to do. Write it down. How many things do I have left? Mom, do lessons with me so I can be DONE. It was like that all. day. long. He’s a visual child. A sequential child. A child motivated by rewards and checkmarks. A child who wants to be able to see the beginning and end of all things. Concrete.
[But he is also the child who thinks the point of lessons is to have them over with. As quickly as possible. With every short cut mastered. He checks the boxes (circles) as he starts each task, just to hurry along the process. He is also writing-phobic. Writing anything is like torture to this child. Art projects? Stick figures. Under duress.]
Now, he immediately digs into the lessons he can do independently (I try to have his list on the kitchen table along with copy work, maps, charts, and whatever else he’ll need). Whenever I’m available, we do the “together” lessons.
The other son, the colorful grammar chart son, is not so sequential. Or motivated by rewards (or consequences) and checkmarks. He’s imaginative, open-ended, verbal, relational, highly distractible, and can spend 3 hours not doing a math lesson—even if I’m sitting next to him. But the checklist is very good for him, as well. It makes expectations clear. It increases accountability. It helps him practice responsibility and independence, which become more and more important as he gets older. It also reduces arguments and excuses. It also means that if he wants to extend his school day by taking work to swim practice or until bedtime and into the weekend, that’s his choice (and his mother doesn’t have to pay the consequences with him).
So, let me tell you how their personalities play out when we do spelling together. [They are on the same level because I didn’t find (and fall in love with) All About Spelling until Levi was in 4th grade.] This is what happens:
I dictate a sentence.
Luke repeats the sentence aloud then writes out each word, one painstaking, slow-motion, heavy-leaded line and curve at a time. Deliberate capital letter. Almost always correct spelling. Punctuation mark at the end. Done. Next sentence.
Levi scrawls out the sentence in two seconds. Often without capital letters or punctuation. He changes names. He adds words. He turns the sentences into a play with different characters saying each sentence. He illustrates. Almost never is the sentence exactly as I’ve dictated.
We get to the “writing station” portion of the lesson. I give them five words to write and then use in original sentences. Levi holds the words in his head and writes one or two quirky sentences off the cuff. Luke writes each word and then looks at me blankly. “What do you want me to write?” “You’re supposed to come up with your own sentences.” “Just tell me what to write.”
And then there is the youngest son. I really need to figure out what to do with him. That’s my main goal for this next week as he’s been a bit aimless lately. His days are very long, with the older boys doing more school work and then going to swim practice. I decided to sign him up for AWANAS with a friend of his, and I’m thinking he needs to be in swim lessons. And he needs his own list. And some one-on-one time. But I think his needs will be hardest to meet this year.
And Lola, of course. What on earth am I going to do with Lola that won’t distract the boys?
Oh, and how am I going to force myself out of bed early every morning?