Discord to Harmony
I've been feeling emotional lately about the fact that my kids are growing up before my eyes. I can't tell if it's just that I'm emotional in general and it will pass, or I really am this upset about it.
I love when we have family days together where it's not just screen time all day, which is likely to happen in our house if we don't intervene. I've been really wanting to spend more time actually being together. My minimalist endeavor has already freed me up somewhat to be more spontaneous, and to sit with my kids without feeling pulled toward the housework.
In the past week or two, I've read to them more, played more, taken more time to teach them things, let them help me in the kitchen... We even made gingerbread houses yesterday (from a kit, because I'm not supermom!). I love that on Sunday, when I stepped outside and noticed what a beautiful day it was, I said, "Let's all go outside!" instead of wasting it working in the house. I could do that because most of the housework was already done. The kids brought toys onto the front porch and played "vet," Travis and I both did some raking and trimming, and the kids "helped" by using the leaf blowers. I mean, they really did help some, but I was just happy they were happy and doing something active and cooperative! AND, when we were ready to go back inside, they said, "No!" They play so well together outside, and I need to remember to make that happen more often.
The word "homeschooling" has been entering my mind often lately, and I never anticipated that. I have never wanted to homeschool. I still don't, really, but what I do want is more time with my kids. Especially Norah, who goes to school before 8, gets out around 2:30, and then most days, I am gone for work from about 3:15 to 7:30, and then it's bedtime. I picked up some extra students this year because truthfully, we'd been living beyond our means and I didn't even really realize it. But I am getting really sick of this schedule.
We are all happier when we are at home. Most kids are cranky at the end of a long day at school, and mine are no exception -- even Ridley, who only spends three hours at school. I have always felt that most kids are best served by going to school, socially as well as academically. I think positive peer pressure can be great in terms of encouraging good behavior and academic performance. And obviously, each teacher is highly trained in their specialty (grade level or subject), so has a much greater ability to teach effectively, I think, than most parents.
But there are plenty of downsides too. Testing. High expectations for children to sit still and listen. Testing. Very little one-on-one instruction. Testing. Kids who bully or encourage bad behavior. And missing your kids. I miss Norah.
I miss her when she's at school, and when I'm at work, and I miss her when she's home but too drained to do much of anything. And I'll miss her creativity and her thirst for knowledge and her self confidence and her pure giddiness if conventional school quashes those attributes that make her unique.
Norah's teacher called me today. Norah could not focus today.
All day long, she was in her own world. She was not listening, she was doing other things, she was talking and distracting the other students, she was doing everything at a snail's pace. I'm not surprised. I know she gets like this, on some days more than others. She was still absolutely wild and off-the-wall after I brought her home. All over the place with silliness. I know she can't be allowed to act like that at school. She has to fit neatly (or at least somewhat) into the mold of just one child in a classroom full of students who all have to do as they're told, or the whole thing falls apart for the poor teacher. I know.
But I cried. I cried for Norah, because I'm not sure she can help it sometimes. I think she's a genius. Really, a genius, and I don't say that lightly.
My strengths as a creative person have a flip side in which I have trouble sticking with things that are boring to me.
Norah's strengths as a creative AND extremely intelligent person have a flip side in which she has trouble sticking with or paying attention to things that are boring to her.
This problem runs in my family, but her version of it is very visible. I was a quiet daydreamer as a child, so I was not disrupting anyone with my inward distraction, and it often probably went unnoticed. Norah is loud (she just has the one volume setting), and her wonderful self confidence (which I wish I had) means she doesn't care who hears her talking or giggling to herself, and she also doesn't really care how many times the teacher has to redirect her. She's not embarrassed or ashamed, she's just annoyed that she isn't allowed to do whatever she wants all day, because she is bored, and her own mind is so much more entertaining than worksheets.
I absolutely can understand the teacher's frustration here, 100 percent. I am often frustrated with her myself, especially when she turns into a grumpy lump and says, "I'm bored!!" in situations where that statement is either disrespectful or just plain ridiculous.
But still, even if it's difficult to deal with, I just want whatever is going to be best for her. I want to set her up for success as an adult, because isn't that what the goal should be, as much as we don't want our kids to grow up? Her quirks are a part of her. Some will serve her well later in life, some others will probably (hopefully!) self correct, and a few will continue to be a struggle -- but she'll find ways to cope with them as I'm learning to cope with mine.
In the meantime, I'm really kind of lost here. I don't know what options to pursue. There are so many, such as:
Are there other options? If you can think of any, please, please reach out to me. I'd also love to hear thoughts about the ones I've listed. It's been suggested, both now and when she was in kindergarten, that we look into seeing a doctor. However, we would not want to medicate her, not to mention we don't have money to burn on appointments, so it seems pointless.
Please help me brainstorm!
Thank you so very much, even for just taking the time to read all this -- I greatly appreciate it.