Monday, May 14, 2007

We Interrupt This Block to Bring You...Summer!

Please ignore my last blog post. I'd erase it, however, someone out there might be getting something out of my planning, so for now I'll leave it up.

Earlier in April, I started a blog post that I never finished nor posted. Here is an excerpt:

One thing I've learned is to stop putting dates on my plans. I tend toward perfectionism and I hate when I see dates on the block plan and know we didn't make them. I still want to use the plan, but then have to revise it. So my new rule is no dates.

Obviously, I didn't follow my own rules when I came up with that last plan. I came up with it in good faith; in fact, that draft had these very words written:

I feel as though my own life has been on hold for some time now. We've worked on and off through my health issues, J-Baby's health issues, and now my grandfather's death. It has been a time of observation, and of growth. I've been able to assess and refine priorities. I'm ready to take up Enki again; which isn't exactly how I would like to say it, because I don't think we ever gave up Enki. Once something is part of you it continues with you.

Still, I'm ready to do the work necessary to mesh Enki education with my newest ideas about living and learning. Luckily, I have the grade 2 map in my mind, and all it really takes is moving back into an active mode.

We did try. We had one day that the lessons really clicked, and then the boys realized that Grandma was watching The Price is Right while we were doing lessons. All motivation was lost. We decided to hold off on focused work until Grandma went home. That was nearly two weeks ago, and we're still adrift.

It came to me last night: we are all highly disintegrated, both as individuals and as a family. It has been eight weeks since we've had a weekend spent fully at home. Part of that is because we spent a lot of time traveling back and forth between northern and southern California, part of that is because we had Grandma here, part of it was having things we were interested in doing, and part of it has been birthdays and holidays.

I'm not a quality time person. I believe in quantity time, and quiet days at home. Honestly, I've been running away; making play dates, scheduling fun weekend outings, running errands (oh, the freedom to just go somewhere, something we couldn't do when Grandma was here.) My grief and the accompanying stress has made me cranky, and when I can't find integration within myself I certainly can't integrate with my family. We stopped dancing, and everyone is tiptoeing around me. They want me, they need me, and I haven't been able to give fully. I'm not open. I'm sad and worried, and instead of working through that I seek diversion.

What the heck does this have to do with summer and our current grade 2 block? Well, I opened my eyes last night, and realized that the long days are upon us. The garden chores grow weekly. We cook outside, we eat outside, we play and talk and sing outside. The calendar may say spring, but my heart has been searching for summer, and here she is, knocking at my door.

I'm very tired of the shoulds, and I've decided that I want to focus on three things: working through my grief and worry (by slowing down and allowing myself to feel what I am feeling), rebuilding my relationship with my family (by giving them plenty of my time), and teaching my boys to read well (by giving them plenty of my time, and letting all the other stuff go for now). So that's it. I give myself permission not to read nature stories, not to do word journals, not to teach Spanish, not to plan crafts, and most of all, not to worry that I'm not doing circle, or seasonal crafts, or number verses, or whatever it is that I think I should be doing.

I just want summer. Mornings and evenings on the front porch. Dinner on the back deck. Impromptu ukulele lessons. Singing together. I don't want a busy, crazy summer; I want the slow, lazy summer of my youth. Hours melting into days melting into weeks. Time for us all to grow in the sunshine. Time to live.

For me, summer was cantaloupe filled with chocolate ice cream ~ for breakfast! Sleeping in, and then eating breakfast in a comfy chair out front, bowl in my lap, book in my hand. Endless sleepovers. Evening games of kickball with the entire neighborhood. Waiting until dark to do any chores because it was too hot during the day. The year my dad worked the swing shift we'd stay up late, playing cards and other games. We'd eat sandwiches and fruit for dinner so we wouldn't have to heat the kitchen, and to keep the dishes to a minimum. Most of all I read; outside if it was cool, on the couch, in my parents' water bed, snuggled up in the top bunk that was my haven. We rarely went anywhere, even on the weekends. Special times were truly special, not an every weekend occurrence.

There are so many summer sensations that I can recall. Sticky sweet watermelon juice dripping down my face, the scent of a ripe cantaloupe and the feel of it half-frozen against my tongue because of the ice cream. The icy cool air in the city library, so cold that I'd want a sweater in July. The swirl of my tongue around an ice cream cone from Thrifty's, and the crunch of the cone itself. The thud of a ball kicked out of the yard. The shrill call of my best friend's whistle across the fence. The rainbow that the sprinkler made at high noon, the cool of the water against my skin, and the glistening of each drop of water on a blade of grass. Sand between my toes and in my mouth, the taste of salt water, the force of a big wave.

All of these sensations, and so many books. I could get lost in the books all summer long; live in other houses, other countries, other families. Reading was my joy. I don't see that in my boys; they love stories, yes, but they can't access them the way I could. It's time to put aside everything else I want to believe and see if reading is something that can be taught. It may be that I can teach my boys the skills they need, and combined with giving them time to snuggle and practice we can get past Frog and Toad and Great Day For Up. Maybe it won't work at all, but I am reminded that many things must be taught, and many children do learn to read. I think they are ready; we've waited, and now we will immerse ourselves in this new task.

I realize now that everything else will still be there: Stalking Wolf and Benito Juarez and John Muir. It isn't the end of the world if they aren't learning Spanish at ages 7 and 8. I have to stop thinking that mud pies and spontaneous paper collages are somehow less important than carefully selected and planned seasonal crafts. Everything doesn't have to happen right now. There is no Enki fairy, no Waldorf fairy who is going to frown at me and tell me that I missed the boat when I skipped saints, sages, and heroes in grade 2. There are only my children, bright and open, smiling at me, wanting Mama more than anything else in the world. That is who I have to give them, and the rest will happen organically. We'll live, we'll love, and doing that we will learn.


  1. What a lovely post! Best wishes for you and your family on this journey. Please keep us posted about your insights on teaching reading, as I too can hardly imagine a childhood not immersed in good books.


  2. What a beautiful post! You pretty much summed up a lot of what I've been thinking lately about our own homeschool and the dreaded "shoulds." I think sometimes we put way too much pressure on ourselves to do it all, and to do it all perfectly.

    Definitely take some time/space for yourself to grieve. It's terribly hard to be present when you're working through the sadness, and it takes as long as it takes, but you will come out the other side. Just go easy on yourself.

    And thanks for the walk down memory lane... remember when a Thrifty's cone cost a quarter? :)