Homeschool – A Day in the Life: Thursday

Fourth in a series of prose snapshots of a day in my homeschooling life. This is a reflection of an ideal Thursday. An actual Thursday will likely end a lot less clean than this one does. In fact, an actual Thursday frequently ends with the house looking even messier than it did when we started. And starting next week, we have an American Sign Language class on Thursday mornings for six weeks, so our Thursdays are going to look much different than I’ve described here.

Thursday is the day that usually kicks my butt. Not only is it a regular homeschool day, it’s housework day, too.

I get up and exercise as usual, but on my way upstairs I bring the laundry baskets, and after my shower I gather my towels and sweaty clothes and all of the rest of the laundry I can find around the house and sort it, with the help of my children, into the baskets. This involves my son sitting in one of the baskets and laughing as I toss dirty clothes on his head. Then I pretend the laundry basket is a car and motor him down the hallway, stopping and having him de-basket at the top of the stairs. He’d like me to motor him down the stairs, but that’s just not going to happen.

I start a load of laundry, and then we eat breakfast and get started on lessons.

More Chemistry: merging water drops

More Chemistry: merging water drops

On Thursdays, we do math, flute, Latin, grammar, writing, chemistry, and handwriting, punctuated by my taking clean wet clothes out of the washer and hanging them on drying racks near the boiler and answering for the 78th time all of my son’s questions about how the boiler/hot water heater system works. My daughter and I do our lessons while my son attempts to build his own boiler system out of bath toys in the bathroom sink.

Finally, we eat lunch, do our walk, and read books. Then it’s time to rush around trying to get things picked up and then vacuum before the floor is covered with toys and papers and crayons again. I try to get all of the vacuuming and dusting and straightening done within an hour, but it usually takes me more like two hours to get everything done. By then, it’s just about time to start dinner.

The rest of the evening proceeds as usual, except that Thursday is usually a meeting night for either my spouse or me, leaving the other to do dishes and manage the bedtime routine. We go to bed irrationally excited that the following day is Friday, as though there’s likely to be a respite over the weekend.

Mice in the Basement

NaNoWriMo Day 9 Word Count: 15,712

The prompt from NaBloPoMo today is about the time you realized your home was different from other people’s homes.

I think I might have come to this realization rather late. Until I was in ninth grade, we lived in military housing. Our houses were essentially identical to everyone else’s except for the current resident’s decorating preferences. Donna who lived next door in San Diego, her favorite color was red. Her house reflected this year-round, but at Christmas time, it was very apparent. Her tree was covered in nothing but red lights, red garland, red tinsel, red glass balls, and a red star on top. My friend Lisa’s mom made those plastic canvas yarn art things and displayed them in every room. I remember one on a table in the living room that looked like a series of geometric shapes but when you looked at it the right way, it said, “Jesus.” An early version of a Magic Eye poster. My friend Precious’s mom was from China, and because I was only there during birthdays and other celebrations, I got the idea that there was always a bowl of red hardboiled eggs on her table.

These were differences, but they all seemed rather minor. They were, after all, things that we could have at our house (in fact, I spent years trying to get my mom to let me dye a dozen eggs red and put them in a bowl on the table).

When I was in ninth grade, we moved to northern Virginia where the military housing was limited. We rented a house in a subdivision in suburban DC. There wasn’t an enormous amount of variety between the homes (I recall four different models, 2 colonials, a cape, and a split-level ranch), but there was more variety than on base.

It was while we were living here that my mom started work at a pet shop and began to bring her work home with her. She bred mice in the basement. I’ve blogged about this before. Fancies, not feeders, although I’d bet that many of them got fed to snakes and monitor lizards anyway.

At first, I enjoyed showing people the mice in our basement. I thought they were cool, and I felt rather proud of them. I brought one of the neighbor girls with whom I waited at the bus stop to my house one afternoon. We’d just come in the kitchen door and set down our bookbags. I was getting ready to take her downstairs to show her the mice when I noticed that she was looking around at our house.

“Well, you did just move in, right?” she said, a justification in response to a query that hadn’t been spoken.

“Right,” I agreed, even though we’d been there since May and it was almost December now. She caused me to look at my house with new eyes. I saw the clutter. I saw the dirt. I saw the baby gates set up at every doorway to keep our elderly and mostly incontinent dog off the white carpeting (although if you put white carpeting in a rental, I think you’re just asking for trouble). I noticed the smell of mice wafting up the basement steps.

I was incredibly embarrassed.

I still invited friends over, but I knew enough after this to feel ashamed of my home.

As an adult, I have a fear that I might have a genetic predisposition for hoarding behaviors (my mom got rid of the mice a long time ago; now she has cats), so I try to stay on top of the clutter and not have too many pets/kids/collections/decorations. I do okay most of the time, but I still have this lingering anxiety that someone will visit my home and find that the nicest thing they can say is to offer a justification for why my house is “like that.”