motivation and joy

So we’ve been dealing with a fog of disorganization and lack of focus all summer.  I speak mostly of the children, but include myself in there too.  The school work I schedule daily remains undone at the end of the day.  We whine at the piano bench during practice.  The only thing anyone wants to do is play.

I’m sure this must sound normal to most people.  And it even seems normal to me, now that it has been put in black and white.  But we are just coming off a long period of synchrony.  We had hit a stride where all things converged: energy levels, interest, attention span.  Woo hoo!  I thought.  Homeschooling is easy!  I was in a groove of scheduling assignments and setting all the necessary books and supplies out at night (I work outside of the home 4 days a week) and I’d come home and it was all done.  Sure there was the occasional griping; who wants to quit making a playdough zoo to do math?  But all in all things went smoothly.

So I was taken off guard when the fog rolled in.  The kids seemed to simultaneously disintegrate, and with it went the highly efficient home schooling machine.  I got dragged down too, or maybe I started downward first?  Who knows.  In any event, by this past week the last thing I wanted to do was to sit down and do anything with the kids, much less school.  Piano practice was even worse.  #1 had been sailing along, enjoying everything he did at the piano.  This week he just melted into a pool of jelly as soon as I said the word “practice”, hanging off the piano bench, unable to articulate a comprehensible sentence.  Argh!  This is the kid who blasted through the first 8 weeks worth of lessons at warp speed.  What happened?  We both sat yesterday, me gritting my teeth and both of us frustrated.

This morning it hit me.  It was up to me to turn this around.  And when I looked at the situation from the outside in, I saw a moping mom and a moping kid.  And I remembered that the only person I could change was me.  And that I was the adult.  So I decided to focus on joy.  And it was funny; all I did was think about being joyful.  I don’t even know if I actually acted joyful or not, but the moment it entered my mind, I saw it everywhere!  And practice this morning was like a miracle.  Oh, there was whining, don’t get me wrong.  But I focused on the glimmers of joy, and #1 and I made it through the whole practice, even laughing at one point when I made up a silly song about the piece he was playing (Happy Farmer, for any Suzuki parents out there.)  And we ended the day with a hug instead of tears, and with me focusing on the joyful things we experienced today.

And I remembered too that this homeschooling thing involves way more than schoolwork (duh!)  I get so focused on the details and the to-do lists that I forget to have fun.  What a de-motivator.  I read earlier today that joy is one of our strengths, something that can get us through those difficult times.  I discovered today you only need a tiny drop of it to begin with.  So for the next month I am going to focus on that tiny drop of joy, hoping it fuels me and my family through this homeschooling journey.

Variety and funny happenings

Oh, the many things I thought I’d blog about.  All have evaporated from my mind.

Here is one very funny thing that happened just yesterday.  It was blasting hot here, around 90, humid, a typical lovely summer day in Minnesota.  DH wisely bought an inflatable pool last week, and we were splashing around in it yesterday.  The kids were pretending they were swimming, and splashing, crashing into the sides, all those things that kids do.  Along the way, #2 apparantly was inspired to play a particular game with #1, and she began directing him, setting up this game.  “Now, you stand here.  No, over here.  Right.  Now when I count three we’ll both do this.”  And she rushed across the pool, and pushed off, intending to glide forward and stop at the opposite side, but instead she shot over the side and nearly flipped heels-over-head, but recovered at the last minute, eyes wide.  I think I took a reflexive step forward and stopped when I saw she was ok.  She looked at us with an uncertain smile and said, “That’s OK.  I actually meant to do that.”  Ha!

#1 Finally lost that top front tooth that was wiggling around while we were on vacation.  It popped out in the middle of the night about a week ago.  Thinking on his feet, he put the tooth under his pillow for the tooth fairy.  As you all might anticipate, the tooth fairy did not show up.  He is an optimistic child, and delights in many small pleasures, and woke in the morning with a smile on his face, holding out the tooth.  Then his face fell, and he said, “It didn’t work,” and told me about placing the tooth under his pillow in the middle of the night.  Also thinking fast, I told him that the tooth fairy had probably already passed our house on her nightly rounds and didn’t have time to double back to pick up his tooth.  He was satisfied with this, so we saved the tooth and he put it under the pillow that night with the babysitter.  Good thing they left out the little glass we had put it in for safety, or else the tooth fairy may have forgotten.  When  I she got home and saw the glass,  I she put the quarter under the pillow, retrieved the tooth, and continued on my her journey.  Fast forward to the morning.  We wake up and #1 emerges: no tooth, no quarter!  HUH?  DH looks at me quizzically, and I have no answer this time.  #1 takes a flashlight and looks under the bed.  No tooth.  HUH?  He hasn’t started crying yet, but I am not interested in getting to that point.  So, I grab a quarter, go with the kids to shake out the bedsheets, and voila!  The quarter was “hidden” in the pillowcase.  What a tricky tooth fairy.