Even as the days blend together, we are settling into something resembling a routine and trying to make the best of it. With both Michelle and I on a lot of calls, we are letting serendipity and curiosity play a large part in the homeschooling effort. Yup, fancy way of saying we’re locking the girls in their rooms for a couple hours in the morning and afternoon. We make sure they are fed and watered first. I think they’ll be okay in the short-term.
We’re doing our best to follow the school’s suggestions but if they want to go down a three hour rabbit hole about how to make your own Cheetos or M&Ms (thanks Bon Appetit YouTube channel)…who am I to argue? I don’t think a parent should force their child to master anything but I do think it’s their job to help them discover the possibilities in life. After that it’s up to them.
Though if it’s going to involve the trombone, maybe wait for Dad to get off the phone.
Was that Saturday? Time has become a little elastic. We took a break from all academics and work conference calls. Michelle might have snuck a few emails in, I can’t watch her 24/7. We needed it. The last week almost broke all of us. I believe it will get better. Humans are remarkably resilient but no amount of hot glue, glitter, or Netflix was going to help last week. As a person that really likes routines and daily goals, I had to get very comfortable that things were just not going to get done.
I will say I am happy that the girls get to see Michelle up close and personal at work. At this point, they are used to me working from home and I don’t really do much except push pixels around and occasionally raise my voice to developers that stray out of their lane and think they are designers. Michelle is way more important and I think it’s good for them to see her in this other role.
Kids are always watching and we should let them see us work, to show them what it takes to thrive in this world. We should want them to see us on the phone, sleeves pushed up, (virtually) surrounded by people who respect and depend on us. They see us at our private worst, they should also get to see us at our public best.
Just make sure you know how to work the mute button.
Strange and interesting times, huh? That’s how we’re trying to pitch it to the girls after Ally woke up Thursday morning in a panic over not having Purell to take to school.
I sometimes worry that I complain too much about the kids here or what it costs (physically, mentally, emotionally) to try to be a good parent. But of course it’s totally worth the cost.
We pay a high price for these little monsters but we get so much in return.
And it’s not the vacation memories. Or the holidays. Or the dance recitals. Or any of the ‘big’ moments. It’s the ordinary moments: TV on the couch, playing in the yard, eating dinner together, even attending the (endless) shows.
And yes this is absolutely a pep talk for when the wine runs out on Thursday.
This week Cecilia created a set of flashcards to study for a social studies assessment. Not sure if I’m allowed to call it a test. Regardless, it might have been one of my proudest moments as a Dad and proof that the slow drip parenting method might pay off. I lived and breathed flash cards in school. If Michelle hasn’t found them yet and taken them to the transfer station, I’m sure there is at least one box of dog-eared index cards in the basement. I’ve been trying to get Ce to use them for years.
It would be nice if our kids just accepted our advice and could avoid all the pain and mistakes that led us to learn it in the first place but you quickly realize as a parent that this is not how it works. And, frustrating as it may be to watch them run head first into the wall, it’s probably for the best. To really learn, you have to really screw up. Best to do it when you’re young. A good parent lets them touch the hot stove. Rhetorically, of course.
But honestly, it would be easier if she had just made flash cards in the first place.
It was a tough week all around. Stock market. Work. Corona. Politics. Kids. It was a maelstrom of bad news and trouble. By Wednesday, I was twitchy with stress before the second cup of coffee. By Friday, I was something of a mess and working from home most of the day only amplifies these types of feelings. In today’s always on, hot take world, how do you get your head clear? How do you wash away the stress? A bottle of wine is only effective for so long. Holding on for that week vacation isn’t going to be enough. You need a plan.
The biggest unexpected benefit to joining a running group is not the increased fitness or increased speed, it’s the weekly practice of wringing out that built up stress. And I don’t just mean the camaraderie of the Saturday long run or Thursday track sessions. It’s new friends, trivia nights, plogging, meandering text threads, or pot luck breakfasts. It’s about the process of regaining your sanity in this mixed up, stressful world we live in.
(Of course winning trivia for the third month in a row is also chicken soup for the soul :))
How are you staying sane?
Nothing quite highlights just how much there is to do as a parent as being home all day with your kids during winter vacation week. Even if they are getting older and more mature….so much to do….and they are still so bad at just about all of it. I believe a big part of my job as a parent is to help my kids but not make them helpless. I want to teach them how to do things, not necessarily do them for them.
So, this week I spent a lot of time thinking about where that line is (I also spent a lot of time thinking about the medicinal qualities of wine.) Where do I draw the line? How do I know when to help (anything involving boiling water or the risk of glitter on the floor), what to still do for them (anything involving knives), and what to tell them doesn’t really matter (fractions).
I believe a great parent will do anything for their family. But they also know they can’t do everything. It’s not good for them (or for the Dad’s liver).
After spoiling the kids in NYC last weekend, I had survivor’s guilt and started worrying that they have no idea how to be grateful. Not to me or Michelle. We are legally required to keep them alive so whether they are grateful or not toward us doesn’t hold much water. But just grateful in general, for pretty much everything. It might not always feel like it minute-to-minute or day-to-day but it is a great time to be alive. And scientifically speaking (we did go to the Natural History Museum last week) it is incredible we are here at all. The odds are so small. So why not rejoice? Well, it can be tough when the day is long and there are fractions to divide, piano to practice, and dishwashers to empty.
But how do you actual teach kids to be grateful? Force feeding it seems like it would backfire. If I made the kids start a gratitude journal I’m sure one of the first things they would write in it (after being thankful for the gloriousness of sparkle slime) is they would be grateful if I stopped making them write in it. Do you just model the behavior and hope it soaks in (my typical approach)? Do you make it a once a week dinner conversation? Do you seek out opportunities?
Anyone have any good routines for instilling gratitude in the tiny consumable monsters we call (per legal mandate) our children?