Homeschooling is not easy.
We probably hit our proverbial brick wall two days ago (Thursday, December 3) when we left Bahia San Gabriel on Isla Espiritu Santo for our rendez-vous with some buddy boats on Isla Partida. We got up early to get the boat ready to leave. We had discussed with the kids that we'd need to be ready to leave early so that we wouldn't waste the whole day, which meant our morning checklist (other than breakfast and schooling) completed: Get dressed, tidy your room, make your bed, brush teeth, take vitamins, do chores (salon duty or cockpit duty includes tidying up those areas, taking off or putting up clothes on the lines, wiping down tables, vacuuming the floors, rugs and seats). We said we'd have breakfast once underway, followed by school. No problem there.
Got underway, practiced maneuvering this 3-bedroom/3-bath condo on the water (I've only ever had to hold the wheel straight), and we even raised the sails although the winds were really light. We then ate breakfast and cleaned up. Pulled out the school books. That's where it all went downhill.
Harrison couldn't focus. Danielle was bored. Kids start arguing. I'm trying to help them both get focussed, answer questions and correct work. Michael and I are trying to get our course sorted out and figure out where we're going to be to meet visitors on time. Being pulled in a million directions. Missing all the beautiful scenery as we go.
And then it's time for lunch.
After lunch, Harrison couldn't focus. Danielle was bored. Kids start arguing. I'm trying to help them both get focussed, answer questions and correct work. Michael and I are trying to get our course sorted out and figure out where we're going to be to meet visitors on time. Being pulled in two million directions. Missing more beautiful scenery as we go.
And yes, I lost it. Yelled at Michael. Yelled at the kids. Threatened that I can't continue doing this without cooperation. Yelled that it's not worth it for me to be schooling all day even though there's this beautiful nature all around us because I don't EVER get to see it. I'm the ONLY ONE who cooks and cleans. I'm the ONLY ONE who works on keeping the schedule. I'm the ONLY ONE blah blah blah. It did quiet everyone down, which makes me feel even more like an ogre. But boy was I pissed. And ridiculously frustrated. If I sounded like a two year old, I sure felt like it. And I probably looked like it too. Nothing I'm too proud of, but thought I'd come clean.
Danielle finished her school work around 3, and Harrison and I abandoned his by 4:30. Michael read them the riot act. I chimed in no less than a half dozen times. Bottom line: not a pleasant scene. By this time we had arrived at our destination, but I couldn't even greet our friends off the boat. Danielle and Michael went for a quick visit, but Harrison and I stayed on the boat.
By dinner, we barely ate. Harrison called a family meeting saying he wanted to go home. The kids were crying, I was crying, and it was just awful. We all went to bed early, but I couldn't sleep thinking I had destroyed my kids, and that mentally they will never be the same. I ran through the dilemmas in my head: Should I just abandon school altogether, have a great easy year, and deal with the consequences when they re-enter their regular school once we return on land? Or do I keep at this, and let them know that we mean it when we say that school needs to be done early so that we can do stuff in the afternoons? Or do I make them do school on their own (Danielle already does) and if they are not done by 1, I leave them and let them stay on the boat to finish it? And then I keep going back to the fact that if I don't get angry, I don't get results.
I've already stripped down Harrison's subjects to reading comprehension, writing, phonics/spelling, Hebrew - and he's chosen to keep science and geography. We don't do poetry, mythology, art and some other odds and ends. We occasionally throw in an American President. Danielle has kept most of her program's assigned subjects except for the program's reading selections as she'd prefer to read books of her own choice and I'm okay with that. Somehow I'm also supposed to begin teaching her Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream - I've got the Cole's Notes for it, a child's version, and we've already studied the life and times of Shakespeare - but I have never liked Shakespeare myself - how am I supposed to teach it with any verve? And while I love teaching (my friends will attest to the fact I always have advice on most topics), I find it incredibly burdensome going off the assigned daily checklist provided by the homeschooling program - I don't see myself as a creative person in this area at all. When we took the day off to do a field trip hike to examine desert life, no one was interested in hearing the details. Perhaps I should have done a scavenger hunt - except I didn't know what to expect myself. Dead end again.
If anyone out there has any other advice or options on homeschooling, please come forward, as I can use any and all help you are willing to give me.
Michael, on the other hand, takes all this in stride. He's way more anxious about keeping afloat than about what the kids are doing. His view is that I have been too relaxed about the schooling schedule and that they need to know that we mean business. He assured me that we needed this day to get on the right track. And although he may not always do or say things in the gentlest of ways, he is usually right about most things. And in this case, he was, once again right.
We woke up the next morning (yesterday) at 7 a.m. The kids ran through their checklist and were doing school by 8:30. Done before 11. Which was also before the other boats were done. We had a great day.
All's well that ends well.
As a side note, I will take the blame for some rocky starts of some of our days because I get up and ready after the kids are awake. My entire life I have battled getting up in the morning. It's not actually being awake early as I love being awake early, when all's quiet and fresh. Rather, it's getting from the horizontal position to the vertical. I honestly don't know what it is. Today, I was on 6 a.m. anchor watch so I HAD to get up. Even after checking the anchor, I stayed up to see the sunrise (it was too cloudy) and even enjoyed it. I recall loving the nighttime baby feedings once I had started. And it's not that I'm going to bed too late - we have eased nicely into the cruisers' life of being in bed early (as early as 9 p.m. some nights). Bottom line is that I MUST get up early to help the kids get a smooth start to the day. Woops - In coach-speak, 'having' to do something will never work - there's too much dissonance in it. So I'll correct my wording to reflect my true perspective: Getting up early is the only way for me.
Right here, right now, I am committing to getting an early start every day. Please check in with me down the road - I'll let you know how it goes.
Signing off from Ensenada Grande on Isla Partida,
24 degrees, 33.631 minutes N by 110 degrees, 23.771 minutes W,