Monday, March 27, 2017

What I learned from being a stay at home, homeschooling, dance dad.

  I was recently subjected to some kind of a sick experiment, in which all my free time was completely taken away, my rights to privacy relinquished.  I survived at the mercy of an oligarchical panel of tiny despots.  Yes, I was a stay at home parent.  

It isn't as easy as I thought.

I don’t know about other homeschooling parents but I have a very picturesque view of how things should go.  Children gathered around listening intently to unabridged classic literature. My six year old asking thoughtful questions about historical figures and the times and places in which they lived. With the utmost patience and joy my kids sounding out words of poetry, naturally learning phonetic rules in beautiful rhythm.  We'd have nature walks every afternoon with plenty of time for music and art.  

By now you can probably tell, I don’t do most of the schooling in my house.

 Turns out my fantastic idea of how homeschooling should be was just that, a completely fabricated fantasy. My homeschooler is not as self motivated as I assumed or hoped.  It turns out, my two year old really doesn’t understand that when it’s time for school it's time to sit down and be quite.  Instead my son is constantly interrupting me reading and my daughter isn’t really listening or at least not the first two times.

I was questioned on a few occasions on the necessity of learning to read.  Are you serious kid!?  Fortunately my daughter is not quite old enough to explicitly tell me she doesn’t give a crap what “Buffalo” Bill Cody did 150 years ago but her sentiment is still clear.

 My point is, teaching children requires a tremendous amount of patience.  I, a mere mortal, have been found wanting.

I'm not sure what I did all day but I'm exhausted.

 By the end of every day, once the kids were in bed, I just wanted to sit down and veg out for a bit.  My usual motivation to take care of the undone chores for the day was completely gone.  There is something about wrangling small children all day that just sucks the life out of you.  

 Here’s something worth considering.  Statistically more women experience fatigue than men, as much as three to one. Additionally, the younger you are the more likely you are to experience fatigue.  Being unmarried also has a negative impact on your level of fatigue.  If you’re a young single woman there is a pretty good chances are you struggle with this more than the rest of us…  At the same time, despite a growing trend of stay at home fathers, women are still much more likely to be a stay at home parent than men.  Women, especially young women, are also much more likely to be single parents (again despite recent trends).  Given these statistics I’d say there’s likely a strong correlation between parenting and feeling the need to nap in the middle of the day. Statistics on fatigue may have less to do with gender and more to do with level of responsibility to other humans.

 Maybe my daughter picked up on a few more phonetic rules of English (or the lack thereof). Maybe she retained some bit of history but my day is not full of. However, these are all intangible accomplishments that I likely won't see the fruit of until later if ever. During my normal week I look back at the work I did and see tangible physical results. I rarely feel like I need to take the night off from dish duty when I get home. Full time parenting and teaching is a different story.

It's easy to forget what day of the week it is…

 Let me list all the things I forgot about while my wife was gone.  
 First of all you should always bring towels to swimming lessons. Science class is every Monday and Wednesday at 1:00 PM. So, no, you can’t start making lunch at 12:45.  No you can’t just go an a “nature study” at the park all Tuesday afternoon because you need to be ready to start dance classes at 3:00 PM.  Also, when going to the Oregon Convention Center (or anywhere in Portland for that matter), it’s best to give yourself more than five minutes to find parking.  Better yet, you should figure out where to park the night before.

 All this stemmed from my inability to keep track of the myriad activities my kids are involved in (which are ultimately all part of their education).  Without my normal routines, I easily forgot even the day of the week.  I sometimes tease Amanda for not keeping a calendar or forgetting events that “could be easily remembered if you kept a calendar.”  Well, I do keep a calendar and let’s just say that many more things would be missed or forgotten if I was in charge of getting the kids schedule.

Things I did remember while my wife was gone?  The work my wife does for our family every day has value beyond measure.

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