School is the worst thing in the world


Yesterday was one of those homeschooling days where everyone keeps drifting away from their work. Admittedly, the kids had a pretty cool game going, they were building ships out of interlocking blocks (we call them wooden legos) and then sending them flying down the hall. Whoever’s ship remained mostly intact won that round.

I was working but could hear E. very patiently remind everyone individually to get back on task. “J, come correct these problems.” “N, please come back and finish your penmanship.” “K, you still have a half page of math problems.” At some point he was losing patience, but didn’t lose his cool (like I would have). E. hardly ever gets audibly mad, he just kind of turns red and shakes, but he wasn’t even that mad. He just used K’s full name to remind her once again to finish her math after she’d drifted away yet again.

This was supremely offensive, so she marched down the hall and proceeded to make this sign. (She had to finish her math in her room, and she did so with an award winning level of sulk.

Sign translation: “I hate school. School is the worst thing in the world.”

And in the pull quote (admirable styling, K): “After I finish math I don’t want to do school ever again because I hate school.”

The night before was… epic. Now that my youngest is five, we normally all sleep well and through the whole night. But for some reason every one had problems. The hall bathroom was torn out, so of course two kids sleep-walked and tried to pee in there. The other came into my room four times for various sleep-talky type things. I finally gave up and made him a bed on the floor which he disorientedly tried to somersault onto. Anyway, it was ridiculous, and so I was trying to sleep in a little bit that morning.

The sound of four racing, and consequently crashing, lego block cars woke me a little earlier than I wanted.

So K’s sign made me smile. I wanted to write the following:

“I hate work. Work is the worst thing in the world. After I finish work, I don’t want to work ever again because I hate work.”

Which isn’t true of course, I just wanted to sleep. But writing a sign about hating lego blocks or ship racing seemed excessive. And K doesn’t really hate school. She doesn’t even hate math. But she was mad and felt out of control of her life.

Raising kids is interesting. My parents were (are) pretty awesome, but I remember struggling for autonomy on more than one occasion. My parents never yelled (not hyperbolic, seriously, never, ever), but I’d often end up in very long, very deep discussions about rules and obedience and the consequences of actions when I was trying to negotiate for more freedom.

I feel like we have a ton of freedom in homeschooling. If we’re sick, or if a kid has a birthday, we can take the day off. We can turn a trip to Yellowstone into a school field trip, and go to the museum / library / movies when everyone else is in school. But I’m not a radical homeschooler, and I feel better when we meet goals and finish things. So my kids are expected to complete certain tasks, and reach a certain level of doneness by the end of the school year. Miss K needed to finish her math, but I liked how E. handled it. He let her vent off steam in her room for a while – and honestly, it gave him some drama-free time with the other kids for a bit. Then, he went into her room, sat in the rocking chair, and after a little chat about her emotions, they worked on her math together, in her bedroom.

She was happier after that, though the sign is still on her door.

We’re not always great at these things. Sometimes a kid lashes out, and I lash back, and in this scenario I always lose. Kids do not give you a break when your back is aching and you have HAD it up to HERE. We’re not big yellers either, but it’s funny, our kids will call a frustrated voice yelling. “You yelled at me,” N. will say with big, sad eyes. I didn’t yell. Not by a long shot, but I said something in an aggravated / frustrated / annoyed / worn out tone.

I think the point is that however I said whatever I said made them FEEL yelled at. Miss K’s main complaint was that daddy yelled at her. He didn’t. He used a stern voice and her full name which granted, does signal that we are losing patience, but that’s how he made her feel. Is it rational? No, but often neither are grown ups when we get our feelings hurt.

So I don’t know where I’m going with this. I guess I feel chatty this morning after a week-long absence from this space. I’ve been working a lot, juggling a few side jobs in addition to my regular work, which extends my hours in either direction and leaves little time for much else. We also started busting out the hall bathroom renovations Saturday, which I will bore you with tomorrow. (Spoiler, it didn’t take five years!)



    • says

      Those horrid cramps lasted until Saturday. A whole week! I am so happy to be able to move about like someone who does not appear to be an arthritic 98 year old person with osteoporosis.

  1. says

    Well. I yelled yesterday and the day before. Like- scare the crap out of my kids yelling. Then- later- apologized and asked for forgiveness.

    Parenting is hard. Homeschooling just one kid is hard. I’m kind of ready to give up on both:)

    Thankful that today is a new day.

    • says

      I went bananas once over socks. Like, I was on the floor, throwing the still unmatched contents of the sock basket around and bawling, and yelling. I have my children’s frightened faces seared into my memory. I felt so bad. I don’t know what happened, I was so mad that they hadn’t done their chores when I’d asked repeatedly in a really nice manner.

      New days are the best. And hooray for kids that don’t hold grudges… though one of mine liked to remind me of that incident for a while.

      • Michelle says

        I did that once. I was crying and yelling, “Everything is WROOOOOOOOOONG!!!!!”. Not at my child, just at life in general, but I’ve always felt terrible that he witnessed it. Not one of my best moments. I believe my moment was triggered by some cake icing.

  2. says

    I don’t have kids but I nanny for a family. One day I accidentally made one of the teens cry (he was feeling hormonal). That in turn made me cry. I called my boss (their mom) and asked if I could go home early that day. I always think about how parents never get to call into work sick or call for a time out of their own.

    • says

      Oh that is rough! You can kinda call in sick if you have a spouse to help, or a friend… or better yet, a mom! I miss my mom, my sister on bad days will haul her kids over there, let them play in my mom’s epic playroom while she lays on the couch and cries. My mom makes everything better. She says the right things and commiserates and gets you chocolate… or grilled cheese. *homesick*

      • Grandma Debbie says

        Yes, please. Come and lay on my couch, would you? I am homesick for you and your littles (and E, too, of course). Give Miss K a hug from Grandma. It’s so hard to vent feelings when you are 8 or 38 or 58. You’re doing awesome! A daughter is a great, great blessing!

  3. Kristin H says

    I love everything about that sign. It captures EXACTLY how some days are. My daughter could have written it herself some days. Heck, *I* could write it myself some days. :-)

  4. says

    We totally had an “I hate you!” kind of day from our kids tonight, too. Sigh. On a funny note? One of the ads that pops up on the right of my screen was about septic tanks. *giggle*

  5. says

    Oh I’m sorry. Those days are the worst. We had a much better day today, thank goodness.

    Ha ha! Those septic tank companies are probably like, “SCORE! Advertise with the lady who cannot shut up about us!”

  6. Sue says

    I can’t imagine homeschooling four kids, just getting my two out the door every morning can have me begging for mercy…
    I love you daughter’s sign, I think it’s important that she wrote it and more important that she’s been allowed to leave it on her door. It validates her feelings and gives her some control of the situation, wish that we could all have that!

    • says

      Thank you, that’s so nice! I didn’t even think about it on that level, but you’re right. We need to be allowed to vent, don’t we? xo

  7. says

    This year we are homeschooling our older two for the first time. So I am happy to hear other families have issues with kids staying on task! :) I’m looking for ways to help keep them focused without having to nag/remind/refocus them ALL THE TIME. I love how your husband handled it, I need to be better at the quite name saying. :)

    • says

      It’s a tough balance! We want to promote self-direction and autonomy but at the same time we have goals to meet. Some homeschool moms are way more lax than I am, while many more or way more strict than I am, but I want the 4th grade stuff to be done at the end of the 4th grade year, you know?

      • says

        Totally get it! We’re actually part of an intense co-op, they have work due for their classes on Monday. I’ve realized its good for all of us to have that deadline, I’d be too laid back and “eh, no big deal, lets take another day off and just read all day!” without it! :)

  8. says

    I have yelled–more than once, even.
    We are a loud household though. We all yell.
    I’m not saying that is good, or even preferable, but it’s the truth.

    Wait–Jeff hardly ever yells. When he yells EVERYONE pays attention; it is that rare.
    When I yell the kids end up laughing; in fact, we all end up laughing. I think it is because I’m usually yelling just to be HEARD now and I couple it with something attention getting like, “Midget puppies!” (no offense to the midgets)

    • says

      But you yell with a southern accent, which has got to up the entertainment factor, no?

      Yelling to be heard is totally different of course. Sometimes I feel like mooning everyone just to get them to hush for a minute. Actually, that wouldn’t work – there would be more shrieking and running to bleach their eyeballs.

      • says

        Are you saying my accent is entertaining? As in “FUNNY”?! *gasp*

        Also, doing off the wall crazy things to get our kids attention is awesome. Jeff and I have done this several times and it DOES work. We all end up laughing, which helps cut the tension.

        • says

          I’m just saying I could listen to you talk or yell all day long with a smile on my face. Especially if you throw in ‘slicker than goose poop’ type -isms.

          It is seriously the only way to get N. out of a funk. If you try talking sternly or seriously… nada. Throw in a poop, boogie, or fart reference, especially if it’s someone very refined and stately doing something embarrassing or gross, he cracks up.

          • says

            “Slicker than a goose poop!” – I still love that one.

            Fart references, FTW — it continues to work, even for 17 year olds!

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