Thursday, October 23, 2008

A Few Tales

I think there must be a point in the psychological development of a child when he learns that there are more than literal answers to questions. I mentioned this before when I was testing Max on his letter-sounds. He doesn't provide us with many anecdotes like this because if a question seems too nuanced for him, he will, instead of guessing, give us a wide-eyed, breathy, "Ah don' know".

Last Sunday Nell was reading a book to him about WWII planes. The text was well above his comprehension, but the photos were sufficient to entice and excite a young non-reading bibliophile like Max. He was looking at it on the way to church and LMark brought it in.

During coffee hour Max asked Nell to read it to him, who, when she saw all the text, looked a little overwhelmed. Nonetheless she, a new mom and not yet knowledgeable in the ways of getting through these kinds of books (i.e. reading the blurbs under the photographs--which is the reason the child picked up the book in the first place) began to read on page 1:

World War II, or the Second World War, (often abbreviated WWII) was a global military conflict which involved a majority of the world's nation, including all of the great powers organized into two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis. The war involved the mobilization of over 100 million military personnel, making it the most widespread war in history. In a state of, the major participants placed their complete economic, industrial, and scientific capabilities at the service of the war effort, erasing the distinction between civilian and military resources. Over 70 million people, the majority of them civilians, were killed, making it the deadliest conflict in human history.

Actually I'm kidding, I took the above from Wikipedia, but it might as well have sounded like that to Max who sat quietly, contentedly listening to the story. Nell plodded along till I told her she could skip some if she wanted to. She did skip some, but still read and occasionally made comments.

Finally (on page 3) she got to the story of Pearl Harbor. She decided to explain some of the pictures and engage him. She told him how the Japanese had bombs in their planes and dumped them on our planes in Hawaii.

Then she said, "Max, now what would you do if someone came along and dropped bombs on you?"


Max looked thoughtful.

"What would you do, Max?" She said again, "...if you got bombed..."

Max took a deep breath...


Which is no doubt the correct answer to the question. But it was difficult for Nell, after she stopped laughing to rephrase the question: "Ok, Max, what would you do after you 'exploded?'"

And, of course, the obvious and proper and less-nuanced answer there was "die," but she and I guided him into an even more bewildering answer to that question which was, "bomb them back."

I don't think he could wrap his mind around that one.

Now, Ella is more capable of nuance than all the kids put together, so it's not difficult--when she has a mind to cooperate--to get a proper answer from her. This week she was doing something in her grammar book that required her to write a number of simple, declarative sentences identifying what certain animals wear.

Sheep wear wool.

Porcupines wear quills.

Bears wear hair.

and pigs...

Pigs wear: BARBEQUE!!

Tuesday, October 14, 2008


Every mother pays the price of her child's increasing independence.

First the child is weaned. Then he walks. Then he runs. Then he learns to potty. Then he learns to potty and everything else. Sometimes a mama has to check up on the child and make sure he's doing everything

Sunday I took LMark to the potty at church. He went tinkle fine. Pulled up his pants fine. Oops forgot the underwear today.

Wait a minute, "I gah go poopers." So he goes.
He wanted me to turn off the light so he could have his "bivantsy," that is, his "privacy."

So I turn the light off and wait.

He finishes his business and I turn on the light.
I inform him he has to wash his hands.

"Me gah blush first."

"Ok, Mark, go ahead and flush."

FIRE IN THE HOLE!! WHOOoooooooooooooOOOooooooooooooo!!! Ok Mama. All done." He was certainly pleased.

I was astonished, but happy I had something for the blog.

I can't believe I posted this.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008


I don't know if right now I'm going through the change.

Everyone else's behavior makes me wonder.

I imagine it's like having a person tell you you're paranoid. How do you respond?

What if everyone around me is just acting like a mean, angry, and insensitive 3, 5, 7, 8, 15 & 40-year old?

Or is it just me?

I am, seriously--seriously--a danged nice and agreeable person most of the time.

Or, is everyone else is the problem?

The change might suggest it is.

A rational person might suggest I am under a great deal of stress and I sometimes project my stress upon others.

Especially when I ask them nicely to clean their rooms.

Boy! Is that a big projection--not to mention an irrationally hormonal expectation, for crying out loud?

So let's talk about today. Rose did her school work nicely. Ella is doing her school work totally without complaint (wow--the earth is spinning off its axis in joy). Margaret--great as usual. Max--hello!--he wants to do school too!

Wow, look at me, I'm homeschooling four children and juggling a toddler.

I am amazing.

Then comes lunch. No I want this I want that no she touched me he touched me she keeps singing and he keeps beeping and on and on and on and on and on.

Then I realize I'm not amazing.

Sometimes I clock myself when I sit down with a book, or on the couch, or at the computer. Seriously--0:16 seconds go by and I have to stop what I am doing. Then I say: "Children, leave the room--Mama needs some quiet." I assign various tasks, which, in a perfect or perhaps a moderately imperfect, nay, the REAL WORLD, ought to keep the children occupied for at least five minutes. 0:16 seconds after sitting down with a pillow over my head: "Mama--Max is licking the puzzle!"

"Max, for crying out loud, stop licking the puzzle!"

quiet for 0:16 seconds.

Max: "Mom I just wanted to let you know..."

Mom: "Yes?"

Max: "Mom I just wanted to let you know..."

Margaret: "MAX!! COME HERE!!"

Max: "I'll tell you later!"

quiet for 0:16 seconds.

Margaret: "Mom, guess what?"



"What is it Margaret?"

"I forgot... Um. "

"Oh for crying out loud just tell me!! What do you want to say?? I will listen to you--but just say it!!"

" Um "

I don't know if right now I'm going through the change.

Everyone else's behavior makes me wonder.

I imagine it's like having a person tell you you're paranoid. How do you respond?

What if everyone around me is just acting like a mean, angry, and insensitive 3, 5, 7, 8, 15 & 40-year old?

Or is it just me?

Friday, October 3, 2008

Broken Parts

I haven't written in my blog for a while. Recently things in my life have been falling apart on a grand scale.

Really, truly falling apart.

First my computer died and went to the dump. Then the trampoline and everything associated with the safety features began to tear and fall off. Then the hardware came loose which caused the bar that holds the net to sag. Then the USB connection on the headphones that go with our Rosetta Stone software popped off. Then one of my favorite laundry baskets burst its side (yes, I have a favorite laundry basket and its loss is tragic to a degree). Then the front of one of our bathroom drawers popped off and freakishly disintigrated. Then two cabinet doors popped off. Then LMark broke a Japanese screen which separates our living room from our classroom by trying to shove the hamster through the paper.

Then the swing set. This little number we got from Wal-Mart about three years ago. It's an attractive wooden swing set, but uses notably cheaper wood than those one buys from outdoor stores and cost ten or more times our mortgage payment. The paperwork advises the thrifty purchaser that it is not for use by a daycare.
I think they need to revise their warranty to exclude large families of monkeys like ours.

Two weeks ago, before I was able to locate the receipt required before they will ship replacement parts, the whole ladder/monkey bar apparatus broke off completely. I wasn't able to find the receipt, but I was delighted to discover that I had actually
registered our product after buying it, which made us eligible for the 12-year warranty on the wood, without the receipt. As a result I was able to order the replacement parts.

When they arrived last Saturday, we rebuilt the swingset and attached it the same day. The children like having their swingset back, but they don't seem as excited now about swinging as they were when the bar sagged and the entire jungle gym felt as if it would collapse and flip over with every backward and forward motion. But it's fixed and at the very least it doesn't make my yard look dumpy.