One of the things people almost always mention when homeschooling comes up is how much patience must be required to teach your own children. Patient? Me? Oh, I try, but left unchecked I tend towards cranky and sarcastic. I do check myself, of course, but the best I can hope for is to muster up enough patience to not raise my voice throughout the day (not always accomplished) and to have scripts in my head that I can try to pop up to respond to situations (Gentle touch….I know you can think of a way to fix this….Let’s talk through this..work it out…).
I remember a particular science lesson that almost threw me over the edge. We were finishing up our study of the human body and I pulled out a to-be-assembled model of the human body I’d gotten from clearance from some place for really cheap. You know, the kinds of things you place prominently on your homeschooling shelf to make it look like you spend your days sitting around in a circle doing things like assembling plastic skeletons. It had plastic bones, blood vessels , and organs that all fit nicely (once perfectly assembled) into a clear plastic “skin”. Everyone gathered around excitedly and pulled out all the pieces and started identifying them (hey, maybe they learned something!).
As assembly begins I start to realize that clearance items often have one thing in common—they are on clearance because so many people have complained about how crappy they are. I’m sitting there trying to piece the organs together inside the rib cage muttering things I’d rather my children NOT learn and at the same time carry on a discussion (Yup, here is the heart–Alex, I said leave the dog alone–Now what goes under here? Alex, I SAID LEAVE THE DOG ALONE….) and let them participate in the construction of “Bob” (their name pick). It becomes clear that Bob doesn’t really want to be put back together. By the time I start trying to snap the clear skin back over the top of him, his bladder has slipped down into his thigh (insert peals of manic laughter) and his hand bones are rattling.
As I’m struggling to snap the clear skin together, a crack appears across his leg and quickly travels up the length of his body. I’ve broken Bob. In a decidedly cranky moment, I slam Bob into the floor in frustration. Organs, bones, and clear plastic skin erupt from the floor and go flying around the room. First I hear an exclamation “You killed Bob!” “Murderer!” Are they traumatized? No, they are giggling with evil glee as they hunt for body parts splattered around the room and continue in a sing-song rant about how I killed Bob.
And then, just to prove that maybe they have learned from this, Alex pipes up “Well, that toy was certainly a piece of crap!”