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A Song called “Mean Mommy”

The other morning I woke up with the realization that I’d been having a stress dream about laundry.

Is there really anything more pathetic to have a dream about? I mean, if I’m going to have stress dreams, I’d like to have, let’s see, one about going to Iraq and getting everyone to get along, or one about my concern that my breakthrough research on the genetic causes of cancer might not work out. I’ll even take a stress dream about taking the SATs all over again over a stress dream about laundry.

We can’t choose our dreams. We can’t choose our kids.

So this week has one of those blah weeks of homeschooling. It’s not that the week itself has been blah. It has had its high points. Yesterday my daughter dressed herself up in “pioneer clothes,” (scarves wrapped around various parts of her body and a frilly apron that Grandma gave her), brought all her baby dolls and an ear of Indian corn out to the front lawn, and announced that she wanted to make a movie.

For the next half hour, she proceeded to pretend to feed the babies, take the babies to school, teach them (with a slight wardrobe change to indicate that she was Teacher, not Mommy), feed them corn she attempted to grind with a stone, and put them to bed. All while she was doing this, she hummed or occasionally spoke to her babies. But none of it was loud enough to be picked up by the camera. I suggested that perhaps we could do a voiceover or titles. She agreed. When I suggested this morning that we could transfer the footage to my computer and edit it, she said she’d rather watch a video.

I’ll say this for my daughter, she is an eternal optimist! Instead, she started to read.

The other interesting thing we did this week is to sew moccasins out of red felt. She did the majority of the sewing and some of the cutting, so I guess that was educational.

But aside from these high points, I’m hard-pressed to say that we did much of anything that one would normally do in a school. I know this is what unschooling is all about, but the Stanford Phi Beta Kappa in me keeps wanting to pull out the worksheets. Show the world what you can do! I feel like commanding her. But as I’ve mentioned before, commanding is not an effective parenting technique with this child. She was absolutely born for child-led learning, and I’m trying grudgingly to follow her close enough to learn about how she’s learning.

Still, I have lapses. At a point of high frustration, I found myself saying, “We really have to do something educational — if we don’t, I’m going to have to send you to one of those schools where all they DO all day is boring worksheets!”

My daughter fixed me with one of those patronizing 6-year-old looks and said congenially, “OK, Mommy,” and proceeded to go back to reading The Dragonling. That’s educational, right?

But forget school, what this month is all about for my daughter is the piano. She has a new piano teacher who “gets” her. If you have a difficult child, you know what I mean. The teacher who doesn’t focus on your kid’s problems; she just tries to figure out the puzzle so that she can engage her better. The teacher who inspires your child so much she’s at the piano practicing when you haven’t mentioned doing it…four times a day!

Yesterday she was playing and had commanded me NOT to make any comments or help her in ANY way. At one point she stopped and said, “Mommy, I can’t figure out what note this is!” Forgetting her command, I answered. A ten-minute fit ensued, followed by an original composition, written neatly in red marker.

A song called “Mean Mommy.”

See? She’s learning something!

Posted in Parenting.


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