Saturday, April 12, 2008

perhaps the truth depends upon a walk around the lake

To explain the title, it is a Wallace Stevens quote. I have such a difficult time thinking up titles for these journal-y blog posts that I decided hunt for random bits of poetry that sort of fit the occasion, and perhaps further my mental treasurehouse of phrases to think over when I am waiting somewhere and have forgotten to bring a book.

It comes from Notes toward a Supreme Fiction.

Sometimes I wonder if my kids will remember their childhood much differently than I remember it. My daughter is the most likely to reminisce about her younger days and it is always very surprising to see what she remembers clearly that I barely recall, and what she doesn’t remember that I thought was a big thing. Of course there is overlap too.

These thoughts are inspired by reading, or rather rereading, a book called Hold On To Your Kids. If there was one book about parenting I would recommend that my kids read when they are parents (assuming they ask for my advice) it would be this one. It is intelligent and not just the standard conventional-wisdom you get in most parenting books — it has a sociological as well as real psychological heft to it and is written in good serious prose. I am making it sound utterly boring but it is not — it has immediacy to it and to me, the case the authors make is quite convincing. I am going to be blogging more about the book, but right now what brought the thoughts to my mind is that though I FEEL like a connected mother, I am not sure I always come off that way to my kids. Since I am introverted and tend to retreat into my head to recharge, and I have quite a crew of kids and find it easier to relate to them one by one, I can go through a day and hardly really talk with a given kid. I am trying to be more aware of that and be more proactive in seeking out together-time. Plus, of course, figure out ways to get little solitary-recharging moments as well so I don’t get drained and find myself freaking out about something minor towards the end of the day.

Again today was a more casual academic day. Sean started a new chapter of Algebra which always provides a bit of a relief before the intensity picks up again. I don’t think Kieron got to math, come to think of it. We are getting to the point in his MCP Math F where it’s sort of the more “unit” type of chapters — one on negative numbers, a couple on measuring, that sort of thing. I realize that it is one of the first years that we have ever even got to those mopping-up type chapters in the math book, for ANY of the kids. Isn’t that rather extraordinary? He finds the conceptual stuff easy but he still has to consolidate his automatic math facts so I have been printing out the drills from this site and timing him daily. This is to help him pick up his mental pace a bit when necessary and five minutes seems pretty doable and simple to him, so it is working. But today we didn’t even do that.

I worked for a bit with Aidan on 100 Easy Lessons; he got restless fast. I had Paddy read a bit of the Treadwell Literary Reader. He was able to do it fine but was impatient to get on with the real reading, ie ME reading to HIM. I read to him a LOT today, trying to stay connected with him. We both have those Tintins fairly memorized. I shall have to look up these comics for little kids and see if they interest him.

I read some more of The King’s Swift Rider to Kieron, and then a bit about Robert the Bruce and William Wallace from Famous Men of the Middle Ages. Paddy took an interest too particularly since the protagonist has an older brother called Sean. We haven’t really gotten far enough into the book to get a real momentum but it is well written and has a good pace — Molly Hunter has written several books about Scottish history and they are good reading.

On Friday afternoons we usually have our homeschool meeting but it had been cancelled today, so I proposed a trip to the beach instead. It was a bit disappointing because the beach we usually go to is still closed for the winter season, but we drove around to the part nearer the road, which isn’t as nice. But the kids found a seasonal creek to splash in and it was sunny and it turned out to be a pleasant expedition. Here are a few pictures: