I was warned by numerous people that at first homeschooling would be hard. Words like detox and chaos and exhausting were thrown around. I felt like maybe the struggles with the transition period were slightly exaggerated. I felt like I was prepared for it. I wasn't.
I have pretty good kids. They're not perfect. Some days their energy levels are through the roof and sometimes they choose poorly. Sometimes they stress me out, but mostly life is good. So I was emotionally unprepared for the detox and the chaos and the exhaustion. By day three I felt nearly comatose.
Everybody was right about what they said. The warnings were appropriate. The truth is, I just couldn't have imagined it or prepared for it. I was surprised by the level of bickering, the complete lack of cooperation, and the deep down in my bones tired that I would feel. I felt like I was broadsided . . . by a barn.
This past week has taught me two very important things about our family's new homeschooling adventure.
We're doing the right thing. I felt we were doing the right thing when this decision was finally made and I'm even more certain of it now. The greatest opposition always precedes the greatest joy. The hardest battles fought lead us to the sweetest victories. I've been forced to remember that difficulty doesn't mean you're doing anything wrong. Difficulty teaches and it leads. Difficulty leads us to greater heights than where we originally stood.
We're going places. This family is on its way upward. I'm more certain than ever that this family will come through this more refined and more sacred. We'll swim through the chaos and the exhaustion, even if we just tread water for a while. We'll adjust and we'll change and we'll become better. We're on an uphill trek that will bless us on into the eternities.
So for those who have been asking how the first week went, the answer is probably hovering in the vicinity of awful and crazy. I will do things a little . . . or a lot . . . differently this week. My understanding of my purpose in all of this has deepened. My direction has shifted and my resolve has stiffened. Because even amidst the turmoil, I caught a glimpse of something that shows me exactly why I'm leading our family down this road.
It seems like everywhere we go the questions are the same. Kids are spoken to in terms of their grade level. People wonder if they're excited to go back to school. They always want to know which school they attend. Random strangers in public settings seem to always approach my children this way. I'm pretty sure it's always one of my first questions to new children I've met too. A child's education is such a huge part of their life that that's how we identify them and classify them. It's a conversation piece because they spend so much of their lives in an educational setting.
Lately we're fielding questions about who our kids' teachers are going to be this coming school year as well. Their friends want to know if they'll see them in class. I figured I should probably make some sort of formal announcement.
So the answer is me. This year, I'm their teacher.
I have enough reasons for this that I could write a novel. That list of reasons has grown and grown over the years. I've wanted to homeschool for a long time. Kyle hasn't had such a favorable opinion of the whole thing. Finally, he's agreed to let me go for it. He'd be the first to tell you that he's still not in love with the idea, but out of respect for me, he's letting my mom heart take a stab at it this year.
I know I don't owe anybody an explanation as to why we've chosen to educate our kids at home this year, but I also know that questions will still inevitably come. I'll spare you from the aforementioned novel's worth of reasons and just share with you my main one.
Every year when I would drive my kids to school on their first day, we would have a similar conversation. I would tell them that I didn't care what their grades were. As long as they did their best, that was enough for me. I cared about whether or not they were kind. Period. That's it. I never wanted to hear that they had made any other kid feel like less than they were. I never wanted them to participate in bullying another child or hurting another child. I never wanted to hear that they had been disrespectful to their teachers or anything less than polite. I wanted them to be honest, helpful, decent, and above all, kind. I care about my children's characters more than I care about calculus or reading fluency or social studies.
We are a busy family. We have five children with a broad range of interests. The majority of my children are gifted athletically. They love to play sports and I love to watch them to play. Because of those interests and talents, a typical day at our house looked exactly like this last year: bus ride, school, bus ride, sports, homework, and bedtime. That was it. No family dinner. No time to spend talking individually with my kids about their day. No time to build those characters I'm always so concerned about.
We've become a culture that worships busyness. We feel like the more activities we involve our kids in, the more opportunities they have for success. The time kids used to have to run wild and free, to explore, and to create are all but a memory.
We are also a family that believes in and worships a loving God. In this home we pray and read scriptures. In this home we learn about the character of the Savior of mankind and we try to instill those traits in our children and ourselves. We try to serve and to lift and to leave this world better than we found it.
So in a nutshell, we're homeschooling this year because I want our family life to look differently than it does. I want time to spend with my children teaching them about integrity, goodness, and kindness. I want to instill in them a love for God and the rest of humankind. I want them to have time to run around being silly and enjoying nature. I want baseball games that interrupt dinnertime to be irrelevant because we had breakfast and lunch together already. I want my kids to learn that when they encounter struggles academically or in any other way, that they have a family of supporters here to help and to lift. I want my children to know that in their mother they will find someone in their corner who cares an infinite amount about who they are and what they choose to do with their lives.
I have a secret. Okay, it's not so much a secret as it is a tool. My number one tool.
I have five kids. Five. Energetic. Kids.
Some days they are bouncing off the walls. Literally. Tanner damaged the drywall in one of my parents' bedrooms. With his head. Just ask my mother.
Sometimes they get downright snippy with each other and I wonder how we go from a loving family to the breakfast scene in Cheaper by the Dozen. Bonnie Hunt is masterful. "Okay. Mom's losing it!"
Some days nothing I do has any effect. On those days I feel desperate. I feel like I have no idea what I'm doing. I feel like we're all going to end up regretting what happens on those days.
We're outdoorsy people. We love being up in the woods or at the beach or in the park or anywhere really. Sometimes we almost quit before we quite make it there. A few weeks ago we had one of those days.
We had told the kids we were going for a hike. The morning was awful. Fighting, crying, screaming, terrorizing. We almost bagged the whole plan because we couldn't even get them out the door in under 30 minutes. I could feel my remaining hair falling out.
We persevered. And I've never been more grateful.
Our feet touched down on that mountain soil and it was magical.
I kid you not, in less than ten minutes my kids were smiling. They were helping each other not to get hit in the face by branches in the denser areas. (My husband is a walking GPS so we pretty much shoot from the hip. Unless you want to be eaten by mountain lions, I wouldn't recommend this route unless you have one of those in your family.) The kids were suddenly chit chatty. And they even liked their parents again. They wanted to discuss everything about the wonder of God's creations. And when I say everything, that's exactly what I mean.
Thank you free range cattle for giving the boys the opportunity to explain to their sisters how different your poop is from elk and deer.
Life was good again. We spent time together, we learned, we grew, and we were happy to do it. Fresh air is one of the secrets to a happy family life. I firmly believe that. I also believe that hiking up and down hills for 3 miles works the edginess right out of children and adults alike. In a matter of a few hours we were all each other's best friends again.
Basically what I'm saying is, to save yourself from moments of desperation, just go play outside.
I didn't want to let today pass by without honoring my son, Hunter. I already told him how proud I am of him and I know that he hears me, but I'm not sure how much it actually sinks in. I hope that someday when he's an amazing, grown man that he'll read this and know how much I appreciated all that he was and how hard he fought to overcome his weaknesses.
Hunter has battled anxiety since he was two years old. At least that's as early as I remember it starting. It alleviated some when he was 5 and 6 years old, but then it came back with a vengeance.
Most things make this fantastic son of mine anxious; playing sports, going to school every morning, taking tests, talking to people (adults and kids alike) that aren't his nearest and dearest, being in front of people, and trying absolutely anything new. He is anxious to the point of tears every time he walks to the school bus or out onto a baseball field or like this weekend, out into a 4-H show ring.
I have no personal experience with anxiety in any way and therefore I can't even imagine the level of panic or the insane emotions he must experience on ordinary days, let alone what he must feel on extraordinary ones. And I can only guess at the level of courage it takes for him to fight it. But he does. He fights it every day. Sometimes we push him to fight it and sometimes he comes out throwing punches all on his own.
When we moved to Naches Hunter wanted to join 4-H and show pigs. He has practiced and worked so hard for this weekend. It was his first time showing an animal.
He made the All Star Baseball team this year and I cannot even express in words the breakdown he experienced before tryouts. He almost bailed and we cajoled and nearly forced him out the door.
But this weekend we didn't have to push. I could see the anxiety all over his face. The emotions raging through that tired boy were almost too much for him. He wouldn't even talk to me. If he had he would have cried. So he's moped around for two days fighting his own internal battle. But he's also walked into that show ring twice.
Today was a rough one. His pig ended up being in heat and there was a male pig that wouldn't leave her alone. It kept running her into corners making it fairly difficult for Hunter to show what he could do. I could see the frustration and the panic, but he continued to work. He came out of that ring with his head up.
I don't tell this story because it turned out perfectly or because he walked out of the ring with a miraculous comeback victory. In fact, it turned out a far cry from where he would've liked it to. But there my sweet 9 year old was . . . continuing to work until they told him to stop, braving every emotion he's working so hard to learn to control.
I'm incredibly proud of this boy of mine. This year I've watched him walk into a brand new classroom and sit down. I've watched him stand in a batter's box almost paralyzed by nerves. I've watched him victoriously walk to a pitcher's mound with mastered serenity and confidence. And now I've watched him walk into a show ring and give his all when everything went wrong.
I know that everybody loves their children as much as I do mine. And I hope everyone can find reasons to be proud of them. Today my pride in my son turned into an incredible amount of respect. I admire him for the internal and very emotional battle that he fights every day. I admire his goodness and his sweetness. And I very much admire his courage and his willpower to fight the battle that's fallen into his lap. He will forever have my respect. I can't even imagine the strength of the man that will leave my home in the not very distant future. I love you, Hunter.
Lying about it would be futile. The reality is that I spend an enormous amount of time thinking about my children. I put a lot of mental, emotional, and spiritual effort into them. I worry over them, I pray for them, and I try to anticipate problems. I do my best to teach them the principles of courage and strength, obedience and faith.
Lately, as I've watched the state of this country spiraling out of control at an ever increasing rate I've darn near had a panic attack because of them. The political chaos, the rapid moral decline, and the attacks on our God-given freedoms leave me feeling almost desperately afraid when I focus on them too much. And by too much I mean any longer than 3 minutes.
I've sat around wondering how my children are going to survive it. I've prayed for answers on how to help them survive it.
I didn't discover a magical solution, but I did remember a time-tested one.
There's so much more going on with a tree than what we see on the surface. The healthiest trees have root systems underneath the ground that are larger than what is visible. These trees have extensive and efficient tangles of roots that not only nourish them, but that also help all that is visible to withstand the blows. Trees make sure that there is the same amount of work, if not more, going on underneath the surface.
About 65 years before Christ, Helaman led an army of young, teenage boys to battle in defense of Captain Moroni's Title of Liberty. That Title of Liberty was flown throughout the land. It said, "In memory of our God, our religion, and freedom, and our peace, our wives, and our children." This battle had raged on for years when these young boys joined the fight.
But even a man as faithful as Helaman was nervous about these boys. He didn't want to lose any of them in battle. However, his observation of them helped quench some of his fears. "Now they never had fought, yet they did not fear death; and they did think more upon the liberty of their fathers than they did upon their lives; yea they had been taught by their mothers, that if they did not doubt, God would deliver them. And they rehearsed unto me the words of their mothers, saying: We do not doubt our mothers knew it."
When the Lamanites surrendered as prisoners of war, Helaman went to count how many of those 2,000 boys he had lost."But behold, to my great joy, there had not one soul of them fallen to the earth; yea, and they had fought as if with the strength of God; yea, never were men known to have fought with such miraculous strength; and with such mighty power did they fall upon the Lamanites, that they did frighten them; and for this cause did the Lamanites deliver themselves up as prisoners of war."
History has taught me two incredible lessons. First is that even amidst incredible fear, deep roots of faith instill courage and hope. The faith of these boys didn't grant them some invisible force field that guaranteed their protection. But what their faith did do was give them the courage to fight. It gave them the courage to lose because truthfully, they knew that even had they lost that battle, they were still winning an even greater one. Their motivation to fight was greater than any possible outcome.
The second thing I've learned that has planted itself firmly in my heart is the incredible power of a faithful mother.
I have come to know that faith is a real power, not just an expression of belief. There are few things more powerful than the faithful prayers of a righteous mother. -Boyd K. Packer
So to mothers and fathers everywhere: Hang onto hope. We are not helpless. We don't have to sit idly by while a decaying world steals our children. We have power; power granted to us from on high; power to lift and power to save. The conversations and the prayers and the scriptures that are being shared in our homes will do more to combat the insanity that is occurring every day than any amount of worrying ever will. Be courageous. Be faithful. Make sure you leave no question in the hearts of your children about the reality of your faith or the power of the Savior of mankind to save. Stand on the winning side, regardless of how small that side becomes. Victory is certain. Just make sure there is more good happening underneath the surface than storm raging up above.
It's been a long time since I've had a 3 minute conversation that covered like 56 topics. It's probably been since I myself was five. But now I have a daughter who is 5 and the luxury is mine once again. Luckily Haylee was in the backseat . . . and it was dark, so she couldn't see me trying to suppress my laughter.
Me: Oh, dang it! It's getting foggy. I hate that!
Haylee: What makes fog?
M: Well, it's kind of like clouds that are really close to the ground.
H: Tanner told me that rain is clouds so angry that they're pooping.
Silence . . . okay, and then laughter
H: Tanner's a liar, isn't he?
M: Well, I think Tanner likes to tease you.
H: Okay, so what makes rain.
M: (A brief explanation about evaporation and precipitation and blah, blah, blah.)
H: Where did you learn that?
M: Probably in school.
H: Like college?
M: No, probably long before that.
H: You went to high school!?
M: Yep. Believe it or not, I even went to Kindergarten.
H: (gasping) Was Mrs. Hall your teacher too!?
M: I hate to break it to you, but Mrs. Hall wasn't even born when I was in Kindergarten.
H: Oh, so she was still in heaven with me then?
H: Then we go from heaven to being born to growing up to getting married to having babies! I'm never getting married. That's embarrassing.
M: Why is that embarrassing!?
H: Everybody's staring at you!
M: But you'll look so pretty! If you don't get married how are you going to have babies?
H: Do you have to be married to have babies?
M: (long awkward pause about the technicalities of that question) Um, yes, you most definitely do.
H: I guess I won't have any then.
M: But look how cute babies are! Look at Parker! Don't you want to be a mom?
H: Does it hurt to push out a baby?
M; Well, yeah, it does.
H: Yeah, not doing that. I'll hold other people's babies.
And she went right back to talking and singing to herself. There you have it folks, fog to an aversion towards marriage and childbirth in less than 3 minutes. Admit it. You wish you were me.
We have a very obstinate passionate toddler. Avery actually reminds me of my son, Tanner, at this age. Everything is high intensity. Everything is felt on such a deep level that it's almost as if they can't control it. Happiness, anger, sadness, frustration, silliness . . . emotions never hidden, but instead very much apparent to anyone within 100 yards. Tanner has mellowed a tiny bit over the years, but his intensity of feeling is very much still him. (Okay, honestly, he hasn't really mellowed. He just no longer throws toddler-sized fits. Everything else is still intense.) So I have hope that this same flair for fit throwing intensity of feeling will simmer down in my now 2 year old also, but I'm currently not holding my breath. Plus, you know, we have a new baby at our house, which I don't think helps my displaced baby. AT. ALL.
You don't believe me? Here's a list of things that have resulted in a screaming fit in the last 24 hours. Sometimes hitting mom even coming all-inclusive.
I told her she shouldn't wear shorts because it was below freezing outside.
I didn't roll her jeans.
I rolled her jeans wrong.
We ran out of fruit snacks.
I wouldn't drive on a sheet of ice to go get her more fruit snacks.
She wanted more milk.
It wasn't her turn to take a candy cane off of the advent calendar.
An hour later it STILL wasn't her turn to take one of those candy canes.
She wanted more milk again.
I told her she needed to quit peeing in her Pull-ups and to go in the toilet.
I wouldn't give her her candy reward for going in the toilet because . . . well . . . she didn't.
I told her she couldn't have a granola bar because dinner was in 5 minutes.
She couldn't have her princess blanket at nap time because she peed so much in her sleep that she leaked on it and it was in the dryer.
Hunter wouldn't give her the pencil he was doing his math with.
I told her I couldn't read her a story until after I finished giving Hunter his math lesson.
I only read 3 stories and she wanted more.
I was nursing Parker.
I used the purple brush to comb her hair instead of the brown one.
She wanted to take a shower in my shower and I told her she had to wait until after I took the kids to the bus.
I made her get out of the shower.
I thought she was pointing at a different shirt than she actually was and took the wrong one off of its hanger.
Tanner took the last of the popcorn and she had to wait for another bag to be popped.
She wanted more carrots.
She didn't want to finish her carrots.
She wanted candy instead of lunch.
She didn't want to take a nap.
She wanted her door shut for her nap.
She wanted me to get her pajamas because there was something scary at her window.
She didn't want me reassuring her that there was nothing at her window.
She didn't want me fixing Parker's binky even though she gave it to him upside down.
I told her she couldn't have a sippy cup with raspberry lemonade because the pulp clogs the top.
I told her she couldn't hit Parker.
I told her she couldn't call Parker a bad baby.
I told her she couldn't sit on Parker while she smothered him with apologetic kisses.
I told her she had to go sit in her bed for hitting me.
I actually stood up to take her to her bed.
I had the nerve to really put her in said bed (at least 16 times today).
I opened my eyes and decided to breath today.
Now is it just me or could most of these things be resolved by a simple request or an ounce of patience? Or a 2 year old's ability to make up her own mind?
I've been absent from the blogging world for quite some time. It's quite shameful really. But hey, I was pregnant (and not pleasantly so) and I had my miracle baby. That's a story for another day, however.
Today when the school called me to come and pick up my sick Kindergartner I was barely phased. Normally a wrench such as this thrown into my already chaotic days would have sent me into a hyper stressed sort of inward panic. I would've been the perfect picture of calm and collected if you had seen me, however, because hey, being outwardly calm is one of my talents. But today I really was calm. It didn't matter that I was trying to work. It didn't matter that I was in the middle of homeschooling my 8 year old. It didn't even matter that I'd just taken my newborn out of the bath and was nursing him mid phone call. All was well.
Why, you say? Because Seattle Children's Hospital has entered my life, that's why. Talk about an ideal relationship. They're perfect. Or at least close enough to perfect that you can blindly put them on a pedestal for the remainder of your eternal relationship.
If you've read my blog for long you know that Tanner, my 7 year old, was diagnosed with PLEVA back in March. It's a rare autoimmune disease with flare ups lasting for months (or forever) that make you look like you have the chicken pox. It leaves terrible scars and is fairly unpredictable. It can mutate to lymphoma and we were told there was no cure. His diagnosis tore at this mom's heart. It's a tough thing to hear about your child.
We tried 2 different antibiotic treatments lasting for months that did nothing but weaken Tanner's immune system. He was fatigued and caught everything under the sun. And he still had spots. It was awful and frustrating.
Finally our appointment with Seattle Children's came (there is quite the wait to get into the place because let's face it, nobody breaks up with the perfect significant other). Tanner and I went on Tuesday. It was heavenly.
Our doctor was phenomenal and hopeful. She said that Tanner had quite the impressive case of PLEVA from the looks of his scars (not the type of impressive you want to be). She also said that treating it with antibiotics was basically worthless and the last thing she would do. She treats PLEVA with a low dose chemotherapy drug. He'd be on the drug for 1 to 2 years. It's immunosuppressive and so he'd have to go off of it any time he was sick in order to heal, but the lengthy use of the drug stops the flare ups and then is used as a maintenance drug for awhile. Slightly scary, but at least it's something that works.
And in even better news, she told us that she has seen PLEVA burn out. I stared at her blankly. What does that mean? It means she's seen it cured. Not all the time. Sometimes it lasts a lifetime, but she's seen it go away. You know what that means? HOPE. One of the finest feelings in existence. Hope gives people reason to believe and to have faith and in this case, to breathe easy.
Oh, did you think that was it? Sorry, no. Are you ready for the news even better than that!? She's never seen it mutate to lymphoma. NEVER. NOT ONE TIME. She's not saying it can't or that it won't, but she is saying that she's never seen it happen. I could've kissed her. I think she knew it too because she told me my mama heart could rest easy for a bit. She even told me what to watch for if it were to mutate (we were previously told that lymphoma and PLEVA would look identical and that it'd be tough to know if it had mutated). Oh, be still my heart.
So, yes, my son still has a rare autoimmune disease. And yes, it may never go away. There are all sorts of terrible things that could happen. But his doctor is hopeful and confident and she has a plan; an effective plan that has worked for her many times before.
Tanner currently has only one new spot on his leg. Unless it flares up and he gets more spots, he doesn't have to be on the medication yet. We can rest easy and not have to feel the panic of the uncertain every moment of every day. And if things turn south we have someone we can call. Someone who knows what to do, someone who's done this before.
Things don't always turn out the way we'd like them to. Sometimes they turn out exactly opposite of our ideal. Sometimes our hearts break and sometimes hope seems just out of our reach. But sometimes it doesn't. Sometimes we're blessed with little miracles. Sometimes things take a positive turn. And sometimes God has prepared other people to improve our journey and make it easier.
I try to be honest in my writing. In fact, that's why I do it. It's an outlet for me and I sincerely pray that it brings hope and laughter to the other parents out there. I'd like to assume that all parents attempt to demonstrate the truth about parenting in their social and written interactions as well. I notice, however, a ton of rainbows and butterflies in most of the stuff I read and hear . . . and I've even noticed it in my own writing. For me that's because I am hopeful, my faith is firmly planted, and I want my readers to know that.
But I also want to make sure you know that sometimes I want to stab my eyes out with a fork. Sometimes I'm at my worst. And truthfully, sometimes I feel like I'm going to drown and can't possibly accomplish what's being asked of me, either perceived or literally.
You should know that I cried yesterday. You're not the only one. I cried for 15 minutes right in the middle of my day. I could pinpoint the straw that broke the camel's back, but I couldn't possibly share with you the mountain that got me there. This is my reality lately.
So I want to tell you something about reality while I squash the illusion that somehow our hope or our faith or our strength make us perfect.
The reality is that I have a six-year old little boy that has managed a complete flip-flop in his personality. He went from intensely sweet and logical to intensely mean, defiant and unreachable. That same little boy is sick and on medication that he would never normally be on . . . and will be for a long time. That little boy probably feels terrible and is not quite capable yet of expressing that in a constructive way. Heck, I'm not even capable of doing that on a consistent basis.
So the reality is that I weep for this little boy that I so fiercely love. But the reality also is that this new behavior pushes me to that edge where mothers and fathers make terrible decisions. Even understanding his pain and his fear, I stare into eyes that are so filled with defiance and anger that I go to that place. My eyes fill with that same defiance and anger (he probably got it from me, after all) and sometimes I explode. I don't react with love or patience or kindness. I equal the playing field. I protect my heart instead of his. That's the reality. Then I weep because I chose poorly instead of fighting the correct fight. You're not the only one.
Exhaustion is the reality. I have a two year old who has slept through the night twice. Twice. During her entire existence in our home . . . only twice. I would love to tell you that I am magically equal to the task every day, even after only 5 hours of inconsistent sleep, but I'm not. The reality is that I'm not always equal to the task. I'm exhausted. I walk around like a zombie. I fall asleep everywhere. And I don't accomplish half of what I plan or need to. That's the naked truth. There are dark circles under my eyes and my house could fairly be considered a disaster. This is reality. It's not just you.
In reality, you're going to run out of swimming diapers. But you're going to let your screaming toddler run through the sprinkler in her swimming suit anyway. And then you're going to be mad as heck when she poops in it. While you're attempting to clean that mess, she's also going to pee all over your bathroom floor. Sorry, folks, that's the reality. Your kid isn't the only one.
Your 5 year old is going to scream in a really high pitched voice. She's going to do this while crossing her arms and stomping her feet. And she's going to do it where there are a million judgmental people watching. Welcome to reality, my friend. It doesn't just happen to you. You have my word.
The reality is that we all get tired. We all make incredibly poor choices and wish we hadn't. We all get frustrated by the daily routine. We all get bogged down by things we can't control. We all hurt and make mistakes. We all get desperate. And I promise you you're not the only one who sits in the corner and cries.
But here's your hope. Perfect performance is not required of you. Perfect effort is. I'm hopeful, I'm faithful, and the reality is, I'm stronger than I think. This doesn't exempt me from making mistakes or being a total idiot, but it does plant me on the right road where the only direction is forward.
We have a loving God who has paid for every stupid thing I've ever done or will do. He did the same for you. I can fix anything. Anything. So can you. I can keep moving forward, even if a snail would look quick next to me. Sometimes I can run and sometimes I can only manage to crawl, but I can correct my course and give a perfect effort. Every day. I can do that. So can you.
I just need you to know that you're not the only one that silently sheds tears. You're not alone in making mistakes, however great or small. You're not alone in your exhaustion or your chaos. I'm there. So is the woman next door and the lady down the street. Everyone is there regardless of how they look to you. Remember that.
Remember that all of this has been paid for. It's all been fixed. You just have to give your best effort. You just have to correct and to try every day. I can do that and you can do that.
Forget the illusion that parenthood is running through fields of flowers and butterflies. You may find yourself in said field a time or two, but the reality is you're probably going to trip and your child is going to step in dog poop. That's just the reality. Just remember that the same thing happened to me.
Although it's not really a secret, I don't think it's necessarily "out there" that my husband and I have been debating homeschooling our kids. We go back and forth on the issue and still haven't really decided. There are a lot of factors to consider and honestly, it's a big decision.
Of all the issues that I've considered, not once have I ever thought that having my kids home with me all day would be a challenge. I mean, sure, they can be a challenge, but it's nothing I haven't dealt with before and nothing that really drives me to madness or anything.
Well, I've changed my mind. After this week, that is suddenly an issue. And before you label me as the type of mother who would knowingly dump her children and their "issues" off on innocent teachers in the public school system, let me assure you that my children only act like this at home. "Angelic" and "ideal" and "wonderful" are the typical words used to describe their presence in a classroom setting. I'm not sure whether to be happy that they show their best selves in public places or mad that they don't extend me the same courtesy.
So, while the jury deliberates my mental health, I'm just going to tell you about my week. Writing clears my mind, confession is therapeutic, and truthfully, I'm hoping someone will tell me they had it much worse because I'm totally the type of person who would feel better about that sort of thing (Don't be shy. Helping my sanity is practically as important as promoting world peace.).
It's been a crazy week . . . well, month . . . but I like to narrow my focus. Things started out fine. I mean, we had enough sickness in this house to fill an entire wing in a major hospital, but it seemed in control at least. My last kid was starting to recover from the virus that plagued each of us for an average of 10 days. Yeah, I said ten. It was horrible. Tanner was put on an antibiotic for what the doctor was sure was a staph infection (in the form of a rash looking very much like the last stage of chicken pox). He was sent back to school and blah, blah, blah.
Well, imagine my surprise when Tanner came home from school on Tuesday with twice the amount of spots. What the heck!? And I'll be honest, these spots in their beginning stage looked exactly like scabies. It was my first thought. And no, I'm not a doctor, but I had those dang bugs burrowing under my skin in the fourth grade and I know what they look like.
Panic set in. But my panic made no logical sense. His spots didn't even itch. And if my six year old had had scabies for the past TWO WEEKS then surely, the rest of us would have it. Those things breed like rabbits. Or head lice, but no need to be particular in a moment like this.
I called the doctor immediately. The results of his swab were back. He was negative for staph or any other bacteria. Oh crap. "Well, the antibiotic he's been on for a week isn't working and his spots have doubled, so that makes sense," I lamented to the nurse. She said they'd see him first thing in the morning.
I arranged a babysitter for my two dramatic monsters princesses and we were set. Everyone is showered, dressed, presentable, bundled up (it was 15 degrees out) and out the door we go . . . only to see antifreeze pouring out of the bottom of my Durango. I just stared at it, only semi-aware that if I didn't blink it was likely my eyeballs would freeze. I herded the mob back into the house and turned off my car. Then I called the babysitter and the doctor.
Oh, sure! We can totally switch your appointment to tomorrow morning! I wouldn't send him to school though. Well, no kidding. Not like I could if I wanted to. The bus has long since come to pick up Hunter and my car is nonoperational until Kyle can fix it tonight.
Something about staying home from school when he felt perfectly fine morphed Tanner into a raging beast. Seriously. If I told him 'no' about anything, he went from my totally sweet boy to a Gremlin (not the fuzzy cute kind, but the ones that came in contact with water) in two seconds flat. Screaming, kicking, pounding his head, slamming things, hysterical crying . . . you name it, he did it.
In between one of these episodes, he decided to use all of my stamps as name tags for him and his sisters. He wrote their names across the front with a Sharpie (which he obtained by scaling the refrigerator . . . I know this because I asked. He scales walls too if you were wondering) and then stuck them to their shirts . . . and their walls . . . and their doors. I'll tell you what, there wasn't one stamp left on that sheet. My son is thorough if nothing else. Of course, my explanation that stamps are not stickers for playing with, but actually representations of money and are used for mailing things was the equivalent of splashing water on my furry friend. Oh. My. Gosh. I suddenly had an image in my mind of me trying to help him with his reading and my Gremlin-fearing knees got weak.
He went to bed at 6:45. Not that it helped.
Oh, yay! It's Thursday! I mixed up my weeks and thought that my husband was off, so I told my friend that I didn't need her to watch the girls. I almost cried when I realized my error, but oh well, too late. I'm sure I can threaten good behavior. Or bribe it. The bribe is what ultimately worked if you were wondering.
So there we are, sitting in the doctor's office again, explaining to the doctor the weirdness of Tanner's situation. He was baffled. So was I. In the end he decided we were going to treat him for scabies. The fact that he didn't itch and that none of us had gotten it, made him think that we might be in the clear, but better safe than sorry he said. I started to itch instantly, of course. Hearing that your child might have scabies is no different than seeing a photo of 800 baby spiders on the internet. Trust me.
Then the doctor dropped the bomb. Well, we won't know if it's actually scabies for 3 or 4 days until we see if the treatment worked, so call me Monday and we'll go from there. Wait, best case scenario is that Tanner can't go to school until Tuesday? I remained passive.
We got in the car where Tanner proceeded to whip Haylee with her scarf until she was screaming bloody murder. When I made him stop he took Avery's book and threw it into the back so he could listen to her scream too. When I said that his behavior just lost him his chance to play his race car game on my phone, the beast came out. And I was still in the parking lot.
The words repeated in my mind, Tanner can't go to school until Tuesday at least. Should I feel this panicked!?
I got home to start the mound of laundry and sheets that would have to be washed AGAIN in hot water. I told Tanner and Haylee to take the load out of the dryer that I'd put there last night. It was one of those important loads. You know, it had things like Haylee's Christmas dress, my boys' white shirts, every white t-shirt the kids own, mounds of kiddie socks. I started laundry and came out to the couch to fold that white load.
Maybe my current mental instability was making me see spots. I blinked. Nope. Mental clarity is stellar. Those are orange spots all over every single item of clothing in that load. Orange what!? It looked like marker. I went to the laundry room to search and there it was. An orange crayon wrapper, perfectly in tact, yet completely empty of any residue of crayon that should have been there. Oh dear wrapper, if only that wax possessed your fortitude.
So I start scouring the internet and find what I'm hoping will be my miracle cure. Well, I'm on round two of that miracle cure and so far it's not working. There's still orange. Everywhere. I guess it's a good thing that we are confined to this house Sunday because that way I won't have to buy new white shirts for my boys' suits until next week. What a thrill.
And hey, her dress might be horrifically ruined, but Haylee loves polka dot socks. I might be able to squeeze mom of the year out of this week after all. I also think I'm going to start watching horror movies until I find something to replace my fear of Gremlins. That way if we decide not to homeschool it won't be because I'm terrified of my own children.