Three of Earth School: Brass Tacks

It’s been a week, right? The president is more off the rails than ever, and how is that even possible? The gap between the candidates seems to be widening, but how can we trust that after what happened four years ago? It was pouring the rain when I got up this morning, then the sun came out, and then it hailed, and the sun came out, and then it poured the rain; and what the heck? It’s all so damn confusing.

The boys and I had a better week, except when we didn’t. Mostly better though. I thought I would just share specifically what we did, in case it sparks an idea for anyone else dealing with virtual school. Elliot, the first grader, is online with his class for…well, for not nearly enough time, after which I have be task driver. And now they’ve changed the Wednesday schedule and he’s only there until 9:40! What the hell? It’s easier to deal with Adrian, the four-year-old, when Elliot is occupied by someone else.

I digress. Elliot has a spread sheet of “independent learning” to do when the class isn’t together or when it’s someone else’s small group time. And by independent, I mean with an adult that isn’t the teacher. (I’m guessing a pleasant side effect of the virus is parents will have greater respect for what teachers do. I hope.) Anyway, what 6-year-old can read a spread sheet, and what is the incentive to do the tasks? Every morning before school, I cut up the spread sheet and glue them onto cards and put them in a baseball card sleeve. Adrian has one too, because, yeah.

When a task is accomplished they get to flip them over. If the sheet is solid owls by the end of the school day, they get an award.

They decide the awards with the moms, ‘cuz I’m not stupid. As I said in last week’s post, this week I was only going to remind them what they still needed to do, not nag them. Not my award, what do I care? And they did it—each day I think. I might have given them a bye for pleasant behavior a couple days, ‘cuz I do care about that.

For the first time, Adrian told me he didn’t need my help with his puzzle, after I couldn’t help him right then, because I was helping Elliot with his math app. I knew he didn’t, but he hasn’t believed in himself. It felt like a victory, for both of us.

Adrian was going a little bit crazy. Okay, a lot crazy. At Emma’s suggestion, I took him outside with sidewalk chalk. He turned into a different child. If only I could remember to step off the platform of what I think should be happening. It reminds me of life with Mama. Why could I not remember what I knew? Also, he is kind of a brilliant artist.

I don’t know how I did it, but I got them to go for a long walk. And there was no whining!

And they chose yoga poses for PE time!

Tree! Staying in balance. “That’s what it’s all about.”
Only Adrian did this one, though Elliot tried. I did not.

Wednesday afternoon is field trip day, or movie and popcorn if the weather is unpleasant. (I sure hope it’s unpleasant this Wednesday; field trips are exhausting.) We went to the pumpkin patch.

The family went home a day early this week, due to a (virtual) evening teacher event on the usual travel evening. I won’t lie, my extra day off was terrific. I attended virtual yoga for the second time in two months; and spent much of the day in book formatting hell—trying to make Pages for Mac do what I want it to do for my war letters project. I figured out a few things, that worked some of the time.

Lena came out of hiding for the occasion.

Unfortunately, Friday was summer-like. I really needed to get down to the business of winter prep. I wanted to keep working on my letters. But I dragged out in the afternoon sun and hauled eight wheelbarrow loads of brush, from last spring’s tree-cutting/trimming project, to the pile that my mowing guy is going to haul away. I hope. I picked apples (for a coffee cake) and chard (for last night’s dinner) and tomatoes for tonight’s pizza. I put away the deck umbrella and rug before it rained again. Which of course it did today. Win, win. I got to spend this day on my project next to the electric fireplace with Lena while rain pounded on the roof. Made the coffee cake too. Taking care of business.

I found something I wrote in the notes on my phone, probably while hiking, and then forgot about. Seems like a good time to leave it here.

I’m spending some 100 hours a week in the same house with my grandsons. I’m a partner in teaching them to be kind, generous, responsible, aware, compassionate, fair, and selfless humans. I’m terrified their future, of which they are completely unaware, is in jeopardy. I must be, we must be, their voices. It’s hard to do if we let ourselves be crushed by forces working against our voices. But there are millions of people as horrified as I by what is happening in and to our beloved country. I find I must keep my eye on that, not on those who perpetrate hatred and injustice and denial of climate change, or I can’t go on. No one of us can fix the problems; that is not the goal. We must each stay in the fight and do whatever bit we can. And stick with it. As Jimmy Valvano, former NC State basketball coach who died of cancer in 1993, famously said, “Don’t give up; don’t ever give up.”

One thing I can do is help guide these little guys. Last week I tried to stem my irritation with them and try harder to redirect and show compassion rather than try (and fail) to control. Today a teacher friend quoted a child expert that put into words what I was less consciously trying to do: “What if, when dealing with difficult children, we shifted our thinking from ‘he’d do better if he wanted to’ to ‘he’d do better if he could.'” What if?

And now it’s raining again. And Mercury returns to retrograde on Tuesday, until…November 3, election day. Of course it does; it’s 2020.

Mercury is the messenger of the gods. This planet rules communication, travel, and technology. When it goes retrograde, those areas of our life become unpredictable and chaotic.

Hold onto your hat. Think vote counting issues and delayed results. I’m reading (Googled it) that Scorpio, which this retrograde falls into, portends the start of something much better. Eyes on the prize.

Try not to stress; practice self-care; avoid the rabbit hole of paranoia. Get outside; connect with a friend. Vote! Let’s kick some ass.

“Just having a little nature time,” he said.

One thought on “Three of Earth School: Brass Tacks

  1. With any luck what they’ll remember from these extraordinary times will be that they got to live with Gigi, wear masks and learn some cool new technology. I’d call it the work of miracles if you can keep them from knowing the enormity of the fear. Your job is to be the ballast in the storm and you are doing remarkably well. Onward. 

    Liked by 1 person

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