Calum on Mustaches

21 May

As he was getting dressed for Kindergarten yesterday, Calum commented that the shoes I was tying for him looked like a pair of Daddy’s shoes. “I almost look like I’m going to work. I just need a mustache.”

He paused and thought for a moment. “Do teenagers or people with mustaches go to college?” Like many of Calum’s questions, I wasn’t quite sure how to answer this. He is the same boy who believes that wearing glasses makes people old, despite the fact that he knows many not-old people who wear glasses.

Fortunately, he didn’t wait for an answer. He hopped up and ran off proclaiming, “I think mustaches are funny!”

Why Homeschooling Rocks, And Why it Doesn’t

15 May

I have been homeschooling Owen since September and while I still have a ton to learn, I have at least figured out a few things. Owen LOVES being homeschooled, or rather, Owen LOVES not attending a traditional school. Here is what we have learned:

1. Owen hates getting up early, but he is totally happy to read in his bed until 11pm (and honestly, the same is true for me), so the flexible schedule thing works well for us.

2. We have our dog’s teeth in a specimen cup on a shelf and a raccoon tail in a ziplock baggy on top of our fridge (doesn’t everybody?) Everything is an opportunity for learning.

3. Owen just wore a pair of homemade duct tape shoes to the grocery store, and nobody noticed. You just can’t get away with that in public middle school. He fully embraces his inner (and outer) nerd and I would hate for someone to tell him that it’s not cool to make your own shoes out of duct tape.

4. Math is just as easily learned upside down on the couch as it is sitting in a chair at a desk.

5. You can turn anything into schoolwork. Owen wanted to get a pet bunny. He researched rabbits, wrote a report about rabbits and a persuasive essay to convince us that he should be able to get one.

6. I have almost as little attention span as Owen. I also have a pretty serious case of Itisalmostsummeritis. It is ridiculously hard to get a unfocused kid to focus on schoolwork during the last month or so of school when you are as unfocused as he is.

7. In a former life I got my MAT in English Education and had a NH Experienced Educator license. What has been far more necessary and valuable to me in homeschooling, however, is patience and creativity.

8. I knew going into this that I could only make it work around my job as a Paramedic because Owen was old enough to stay home alone at times and could be somewhat self-sufficient. It turns out that he is really good at taking care of himself, and his younger brother when I am sleeping after a night shift, but he is terrible at getting work done unless I am constantly on him. It also turns out that him making meals for the Kindergartener is far more valuable to me than doing math when I’m sleeping.

9. Some kids need to be around other kids. Duncan is one of those kids. Owen is not. Though he still loves to hang out with his friends, he does not at all miss having other kids around him all day. 

10. I loved school. Owen loves learning. These are not the same things. He is a much happier kid figuring things out on his own and reading about things that interest him. 

11. I enjoy having Owen around and love helping him learn both things that I know and things that are new to me, but I sometimes want to scream at him to go find something else to do because he is always freaking here. And apparently I am a person who enjoys my time alone.


Kids Have No Filter

8 May

I am generally a proponent of using correct terminology for body parts with my kids. I don’t want mine to be the kid who goes to Elementary School referring to anything as a, “pee pee,” or is afraid to refer to their own body parts. It certainly hasn’t stopped my kids from coming up with their own more creative terms, though, and it definitely hasn’t sunk in yet that that there are places it is appropriate to discuss one’s penis, and that those places are limited.

I briefly reconsidered my position the other day when Calum randomly yelled the word, “ANUS” in a parking lot, right in front of a TJ Maxx employee taking her break. It is hard to explain to a five-year-old that while it is not a bad word, it is not one you yell in public. It is even harder not to laugh and instead feign the appropriate level of horror in front of people I don’t know.

It’s a Good Thing He’s Cute

4 Apr

How distracting do you have to be to others to have your pencil supply limited and monitored? D’s teacher, a woman who had him pegged on day one with the comment on a worksheet, “Duncan, please pay attention in class and read the directions,” sent me this email. Her analysis of him is so spot-on, Duncan couldn’t even disagree with her comments on his most recent report card.

“Hi Ali,

Could you send Duncan to school on Monday with a fresh supply of sharpened pencils. He is repeatedly breaking the pencil points and removing the metal tops and erasers from the pencils he has here. He is constantly resharpening them, I believe, in an effort to avoid work. Since he also peels off the wrapping of decorative ones, please just give him regular yellow wooden pencils (not mechanical ones- those come with a host of other distractions).

I will keep the supply with me so he can grab one when needed but not have them nearby to play with during work time.”

Boys’ Night Out

28 Mar

This afternoon, the boys and I were out driving around, doing errands. All great kid conversations happen in the car, if you weren’t aware.  D asked me, “Can we have a boys’ night out?” My first thought was slightly sad because I wouldn’t be included, but I immediately regained my senses and thought, a night, home alone, by myself, with quiet? “Of course you can.”

O then explained what boys’ night out entailed. “Basically, boys go out without any girls and have a ton of fun.” I’m pretty sure the boys and I do not share an idea of what constitutes  a ton of fun. O continued on to say that they would take their friend A with them and $100. They would “buy a hotel and with the leftover, buy a bunch of cheesy fries.” I am not setting foot in whatever hotel they can get for $100 less cheesy fries for four growing boys, so it works out that I’m not invited.

They wanted to do a boys’ night out with their Dad tonight, and D asked if we had a lot of laundry to do. “Yes, we do,” I replied, not understanding his hint. “Good,” he says, “you can stay home and do the laundry when we go out.” He was lucky I was driving and he was out of arm’s reach. I suggested Sunday, when I am working, and they debated inviting their friends A and E. “But if we call it a boys’ night out, E can’t come,” O sympathized. D, without a pause replied, “but she doesn’t have boobs.” “We’ll have to call it kids’ night out,” O compromised.

Apparently, boobs are the criteria by which one is excluded from boys’ night out. Certainly explains why I wasn’t invited.


You Might Be a Mom of Boys (Part 2)…

22 Mar

1. If you have ever explained to someone what it is okay or not okay to store in one’s boots.

2. If you have ever tucked a small child into his “man cave,” aka his closet.

3. If you have ever scrubbed the word poop or butt off your child’s body, and simultaneously felt grateful they aren’t able to write small enough to label their penises.

4. If your 11-year-old still believes you are being unreasonable when you suggest he comb his hair and change his underwear EVERY day.

5. If the word ball, used in any context, sends your whole house into a fit of hysterical giggles.

6. If your kids hide their faces until it is safe to look again during any commercial perceived as being for girls.

7. If there are more Lego weapons in your house than any other single object.

8. If there is a bathroom in your home designated for boys that could put many public restrooms to shame.

9. If you have ever made a rule against punching someone else’s penis.

How to Fly Under the Radar

2 Feb

Oliver is away for the weekend and last night the boys and I had Owen’s best friend Christopher and his little sister Isabella sleep over. As I am sure Moms of large families will tell you, there is a point when more kids does not necessarily equal more work. Even if Chris and Isabella weren’t the nicest, easiest kids, that would be true of adding a couple of friends to your three boys. 

They ate pizza, played Minecraft together, and built a fort to sleep in. When it was time to go to bed, everyone got tucked in and kissed goodnight (at least the younger ones), Owen and Chris in Owen’s room, and Duncan, Calum, and Isabella in Duncan’s room. 

Within the first ten minutes, I had told the three younger kids to quiet down and go to sleep several times. They were climbing out of their sleeping bags, changing their pajamas, laughing and talking loudly. Not once did I have to speak to Owen and Chris, not because they were sleeping, but because they were smart. They went into Owen’s room, closed the door, and, as I learned in the morning, built a Minecraft version of our entire house. I did not hear a single giggle out of them.

And that is why they got to stay up until 11:30. They reinforced what both Oliver and I had proven in our own school careers: kids who are generally good and more importantly, being quiet, will get away with more than everyone else.


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