School Days, Here Again

It’s September. That means transitioning from vacation to school. Hopefully, it will also mean having a few more uninterrupted conversations with my wife now that the Miracles of Christ are back in school.

School has returned.

Everyone is adjusting to the new schedules. Some children are dealing with the harsh reality of not waking up at noon. Other children are adjusting to a morning of getting dressed and leaving the house instead of rolling out of bed and going on autopilot to the television, generating just enough energy to stay vertical until they reach the couch.

I’m adjusting, too. I need to make sure I’m up early enough to get the little cherubs out of bed and on their way to the car or bus. I’m helping children get their breakfast and find their things so they can be on time for school. The first day of school was tough. Kids had tons of supplies to see themselves through the school year. Usually, we can get to the school a day or two before the official first day and drop the things off so children can just walk to their classrooms on Day One and not worry about anything else but making it to the classroom and seeing who they were sitting next to.

It didn’t happen this time. Oh, well. I dropped off The Oppressed and The Boy with their gear. Luckily, things fit in their bags and they were able to remain upright on their way into the building. I went home and did my work, patiently waiting for the time I could return to the school and find out about their day.

That glorious time came and I eagerly waited at the school parking lot for the doors to open and release the children from the temporary adult oppressors to the permanent oppressors. The Oppressed was in relatively good spirits and gave about as much information as I could expect. The Boy, on the other hand, was none too happy. Apparently, his teacher took his things from him as soon as he got to his room and locked them up on him. The Boy didn’t understand why the teacher had to take his things away from him without any explanation. I decided to find out more about this and asked The Oppressed, who just happened to be an alumna of this teacher. It turns out this teacher allows the students to keep what they need in their desks and the excess stock is kept in a closet. When the student needs something, the teacher will fetch it from the closet, thereby making sure that everything is accounted for, nothing gets lost, and the student has everything they need for a successful school year. The Boy didn’t exactly see it that way and was upset with his teacher for days because she, “stole” the things he needs for school. The Oppressed and I tried to explain what happened. The Boy said she should have spoke to him about it and asked him if it was alright to take his things before she took it. After all, The Boy reminded us, it’s his stuff.

Despite my inexperience and lack of know-how when it comes to parenting (I just live here with my children), I have learned there are times when it is best to just let kids sulk and stew about the cruel lot cast upon them by fate. At this point, all I can do is patiently wait for The Boy to need something and, at that time, the teacher will go to the closet and retrieve what he needs from the supply closet. Maybe then he will understand the grand scheme of the teacher and her classroom.

Time will tell. As of now, there are other things to deal with. Another round of the Homework Wars will be descending upon us. There are flag-football, cheerleading, and cross-country practices to attend. Wife and I have our own jobs. I know I said something about having uninterrupted conversations with my wife while the children are away, but there may be other things lurking in the shadows and waiting to snatch whatever chance I have to talk to her without someone or something jumping in and fill what I thought was an opening.

School Days Past and Present Struggles (Homework Then and Now)

Last week, we looked at a typical morning in the lives of my children versus a typical morning in my own childhood. This week, I would like to look at an afternoon at my house today versus a typical afternoon in my formative years. As a parent, I’m sure you will notice the stark contrasts between the times and the behaviors of the children in the scenarios. You may even find similarities between this house and yours, as well as my childhood and your own.

Me: I walked home, just as I walked to school. It didn’t matter what the weather was. Everyone in my neighborhood walked to and from school. School wasn’t far from where we lived and the walk not only gave us exercise and fresh air, but it also prepared us for the rigors of homework, reading, and studying that we readily embraced when we arrived home.

Children: Immediately upon being released from school, the children nervously look around for my car. Sometimes I park a little further from the school than normal, which means it takes longer for the Miracles of Christ to see their transport and refuge. On those days, their collective sigh of relief is longer and louder. On other days, they realize there is no such refuge and they are forced to march miles (it’s more like a little less than one mile) uphill in punishing, unforgiving elements (sunshine and a light breeze) barefoot, tired, and hungry.

On other days, they are forced to march miles uphill in punishing, unforgiving elements barefoot, tired, and hungry.

Me: Upon returning home, I remove my shoes, hang up my jacket and place my bag in the hall, out of the way of anyone who may come or go through said hall. Kiss my mother and say, “Hello.” Proceed to the kitchen for an apple or other such healthy and delicious snack. Return to the hall for my bag and go upstairs to my room.

Children: Doors open before I can even stop the car. I slam on the brakes to make sure I don’t roll over any cherubs who are inspired by the weekend’s screening of “Marvel”. I follow the cherubs into the house, carrying their bags that were somehow forgotten in the car. When I reach the top of the stairs, I see the door is wide open, prompting me to hear my father’s voice in my head. (“What am I, heating the city of Lynn?”). I enter the house, close the door, and nearly trip over discarded jackets and sweatshirts that mark the path from the door, through the porch, to the kitchen.

As I enter the house, I hear the snack drawer being opened and slammed shut. I call to the Miracles of Christ to collect their bags and pick up their jackets they “forgot”. My gentle, loving voice is drowned out by the stampeding footsteps hauling it upstairs. Doggie cowers under a chair thinking a herd of elephants is coming after her. Kitty books it to the basement thinking it’s Doggie running after her.

Me: I’m at my desk with books and notebooks out, ready to tackle the intellectually stimulating exercises before me. Off to my side is my snack on a plate with a napkin. I spent the morning tidying up my space and I would hate to clutter it with any garbage. It would have wasted my efforts in the morning and delayed my afternoon duties.

A child sitting at a desk. Books, pencils, glasses, a clock, and an apple are on the desk.
A typical afternoon for me after school. Photo by Alexandr Podvalny on Pexels.com

Children: Pieces of torn granola bar and candy wrappers lead a trail upstairs, picking up where the jackets and sweatshirts leave off. The gate upstairs is wide open. Doggie, recovering from her trauma, sees the opening and gallops upstairs. I chase after her, hoping to catch her before she leaves some sort of surprise in my bedroom. I lead Doggie back downstairs into the yard and return upstairs where The Boy has something shoved in his mouth before I can ask what he’s eating and suggest something that won’t overload his delicate system with sugar that will amp him up far beyond bedtime. I remove work from his bag. He protests, saying he just finished school and needs a break before he is subjected to mental torture. (He has to add and then color the boxes based on the sum he added.) I go downstairs to let Doggie back in. The Oppressed is in the living room with The Gaggle watching a YouTube video of someone narrating someone else’s video. I wonder what I’m doing wrong with my life as the children explain to me the genius and high entertainment value of what is being offered. The Oppressed leaves the room under protest and complains about her arduous work that has been heaped upon her by uncaring, heartless teachers.

Meanwhile, The Boy is cursing my name as well as his evil teacher. He doesn’t want to color and refuses to fill the box, which is supposed to be red. He goes to every room of the house searching for that perfect shade of red that doesn’t exist in the box of crayons, pencils, and markers in his room. The crayon I find, marked “red” is the wrong one and I don’t know what I’m doing. In the middle of coloring, a sentence needing to be commuted by the governor, I ask about empty wrappers laying about the room. The Boy has no idea what I’m talking about and I need to be a kinder parent instead of one that enjoys forcing him to (wait for it) color in boxes.

The slave ship from "Ben Hur".
Homework at my house today

Me: Written exercises are done. Assignments are placed in proper books and notebooks. I go downstairs with my dish and napkin, discard garbage and napkin into the trash and place dish in dishwasher. Wash my hands and go back upstairs read and study.

Children: Homework is done. They never should have received so much, or any at all. One assignment is on a table. Another is on the dresser, of all places. Folder, provided specifically to keep assignments is in another room. No one can explain why. I take my place in the guard tower as the children place their work in the folder and put away the folder. The bags are placed by the door so they will be ready to go the next morning. The Oppressed is on the computer emailing Congress to ban homework assignments. The Boy is with her making sure his grievances concerning coloring are not forgotten.

Me: In my room reading and studying until called for dinner.

Children: Screen Time. Can’t be bothered to come to the kitchen to eat. They’re not hungry and have better things to do.

Check my podcast for exciting stories and episodes at https://anchor.fm/greg-gorman0

A Morning in the Life

Summary

My mornings are spent waking children up multiple times. Getting them out of bed is the easy part of the day.

This episode is also available as a blog post: https://brave-daddy.com/2020/03/30/a-morning-in-the-life/ — This episode is sponsored by ยท Anchor: The easiest way to make a podcast. https://anchor.fm/app

Transcription

Math Problems

Summary

I would like the children to check their homework before putting it away. Here’s one genius method.

This episode is also available as a blog post: https://brave-daddy.com/2020/03/01/math-problems/

Transcription

Good Talk

We survived the summer. You did too, I take it. Congratulations!

I love talking to my children, especially when they get back from school or an activity. I like hearing about what they did, who they talked to. I like hearing about everything that happened in between the time they left the house and the time they returned.

My children have a way of downplaying whatever they did and wherever they went. They did nothing. No one spoke to them. They talked to nobody. They sit alone. They eat alone. They go to somewhere and just stand or sit there the entire time until it’s time for them to leave.

The Boy has a friend who has been going to school with him for a couple of years. I would pick them both up and take them home. Walking to the car, I would ask them what they did. The boy’s friend would answer, “Nothing! We did nothing!”

A new school year has descended upon us. I am excited for my kids. I am eager to know about their new rooms. Where they sit. How is the room set up with Coronapalooza? They don’t remember. School was okay. Great. We’ll be back tomorrow, Dad. Relax.

This week, I saw The Boy had a drawing in his hand. What was it? I asked what he had drawn? Was it a picture of something he did during vacation? Was it a drawing of the family?

“It’s just random coloring, Dad,” He said to me.

Good talk.