Alice Cooper doesn’t live here

There are days when homeschooling even the brightest and most eager to please child can be a little trying. Bugaboo is formally enrolled in preschool; we are churning through the last few preschool exercises, since she already knows the material. When Bugaboo starts kindergarten next month, Beanie will be formally starting preschool, since she already stands by Bugaboo’s chair and tells her the answers to her exercises until I find some excuse to send her out of the room. Luckily, Beanie loves to be the big girl, so my usual canard is to tell her that Mr. Man needs to learn his colors, and would she be a love and sit with him and a box of blocks and help him figure them out. It’s simple, but effective.

Bugaboo, while she has  attention span for a four-year old, is still only four years old, so I don’t like to have her sit at a table for more than an hour doing schoolwork if I can avoid it.  However, some days, the skills she most needs to practice involve patience, respect, and thoroughness.  This was one of those days.

Our lessons for today weren’t terribly difficult, although they were far from busywork; practicing her handwriting by copying words from a favorite story, a color-by-numbers exercise, reading number words, making a poster of things she likes to touch, reading and discussing the life of the Holy Family, praying a decade of the Rosary (with a spiffy coloring page upon which she could list her prayer objects, then color a “bead” for each one), coloring a picture of the Last Supper and talking about how we still celebrate it in the Eucharist. That may sound like a lot, but most of those tasks should take her less than two minutes, even working deliberately.

Arguing over whether the assignments could be postponed, however, added quite a bit of time to Bugaboo’s school day.  A certain little girl woke up with Strawberry Shortcake on the brain this morning, and while I succeeded in getting her to compare a tea party with a friend who she wouldn’t see for a long time to the Last Supper, she got rather shirty about her reading and writing exercises.  By “shirty,” I mean that I heard such witticisms as “You are a mean Mommy for making me do this, and I’m just going to sit here and pout.”

My response was that she was welcome to sit there and pout, and to give her a glass of water before I started Beanie’s lessons.  Beanie was my model student today, asking for very precise types of assistance (“Mommy, I need help finding a darker blue crayon,” and “Mommy, can you open my glue stick, please?”) and wanting to work ahead in her little workbook, tracing letters and wavy lines.  After each of Beanie’s tasks, I offered Bugaboo the opportunity to choose her next assignment, and gently reminded her that regardless of the length of time she chose to spend sulking, the work would need to be done regardless.

I’ll spare you the details of the rest of the morning and a goodly part of the afternoon.  Even at lunchtime, she wanted to argue about whether she would eat every single morsel of food that she picked up.  I predict a bright future for her as a restaurant critic, as she can find more descriptive ways to insult an innocent piece of cheese than most people ten times her age.

I also spent a lot of time today thanking God aloud for my intelligent and talented children, and requesting His guidance for them and for me.  Luckily, Bugaboo loves to pray, so that was a wonderful pressure-release mechanism for both of us.

Today’s musical accompaniment was provided by our local classic rock station.  Shortly after lunchtime, a certain Alice Cooper tune came on the radio, and my precocious little blessing informed me, “Mommy, I should be done for today.  Even the radio says school’s out.”

I replied, “Alice Cooper is not your mommy and does not live here.  You’re right, though.  You should be done for the day.  I’m sorry that you chose not to be.”

To all those who inquired after Mr. Man’s welfare, thank you.  He is feeling much better, and is back to being the primary engine of chaos in our little house.  He even tried to help his oldest sister color a picture, until she threw a crayon at him.

Today’s prayer:  Lord, You give us a new day with every sunrise.  Some days we choose to do needful things gladly and quickly, and some days we choose to complain about our lot.  I know I have done my share of complaining about small things, Lord, and for that, I am sorry.  Please help me set a pleasing example to Your blessings of finding joy in the small, mundane tasks, of smiling through the labors that I do not love.  I want them to know that it please You when we happily use the talents You have given us, and that we should thank You for every chance to grow those talents.

And Lord, thank You for my husband and the little blessings You have sent us.


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