Every time I walk by that house I imagine what sort of life goes on in there. I can fill the story out pretty quickly. Same goes for a lot of the blogs I read. We all do it, look at these snap shots of other people’s lives and create full stories. Certain people annoy us purely by how they write, yet we keep coming back. Others make us feel inadequate; ‘oh my god I didn’t bake the bread this week and my son is watching a Diego video!’ Jealousy rises in me when I see other homeschooling families who have such great rythms to their days and planned activities. I want that, I want circle time and songs, I want nature walks where we hunt for gnomes and fairies.
But then I look away from the screen, away from the beautiful images and see all of what our life holds. The piles of books that fill the shelves, and the floor. The bike trailer that clocks about 40 miles a week. The two yet to be unpacked bags of learning stuff that are waiting for a shelf. The dining room table neatly divided with Alder’s project on one side mine on the other. Somewhere under there I know I left the letter I was writing.
Then I listen, there is Jazz station Alder begged for playing in the living room while he is counting his toes or toys or something important. In the basement I hear my radio always on NPR filling the air with news and such, and the printer as it prints my latest rewrite. Up stairs is the peaceful sound of Kevin grinding ink on stone, followed by the slap of the brush meeting paper. Somewhere the cat is meowing for attention.
I step over a box of clean laundry that has been sitting there for two days waiting to be put away and walk back down stairs. I step out our front door on to the porch and look out at our little garden, the squash that are growing into the tree, the trash from the street that was blown there the night before. I say hi to our neighbor on the adjoining porch and talk a bit about our days or maybe there next project. Alder follows me outside looking for the neighbor girl to play with or someone to talk to. No one is there so we cook up a project or a bike ride with a stop at a playground.
The phone rings we make plans for the net day, or we don’t and talk to our cousins who live far away. Talking to them usually leads to looking at the atlas, and often the calendar (as we count down to visits). Or maybe there is no one on the phone and we eat something or throw the food into a bag in the back of the trailer we find the helmets we take off to….well you know somewhere in the city that has something to do, like a new playground or the library or just the ice cream shop.
Then there are the questions as we pass through our city. How fast are we going? What is concrete made of? Why isn’t that person wearing a helmet? What does counting backwards sound like? Can we have some juice?
Part of our journeys are for the activities we plan, the parks and the libraries or rivers, but others are just the going and looking at the people, the city the construction (especially the construction). We stop at the library where I have three books on hold; one on gardening, one on vaudeville, one a book of Wendell Berry poems. In the kids room Alder jumps on a pillow dragon and brings me a pile of Diego books to read (haven’t we read all of these five times?). We read cuddled up on the floor while other families pass us by. When the stack is gone we both go in search of books to bring home. I look for picture books, always a Patricia Pollacco and some Little Polar Bear, while Alder runs to the science section to find bees or experiments or volcanoes or bones. We bring our stacks to a table and decided which to bring home (which Mama is willing to pedal up the hill). Then there are dvd’s for the week to be chosen, just a few or 6, some learning some play.
Once the books are checked out and our helmets are on we push off again on the bike to a favorite park where Alder plays with the kids while I look through the books and start thinking of dinner. An hour or two later we pedal the last few blocks, thankfully downhill, home. A lonely cat greets us (seriously considering the two cat idea) and Alder listens for the neighbor girl or asks for a movie or starfall or wants to make dinner with me or wants to draw or well you know.
Kevin’s at work so I cook for two. Alder and Simone the tiger and Subaru the dog are hidden in a pillow cave when the food is done (did I mentioned that I listened to NPR). We sit on the stoop eating and talking about our day, what we want to do that evening, the next day, with the rest of our lives. Alder sets on playing with letter magnets. But there is a line of dirt behind his ears that needs a bath and then it’s a game of find that letter on the bed. Plans for mapping the bathroom are made. And the usually begging to walk to New York (which reminds me we need a pedometer). It’s nine pm and Papa has two more hours of work so we turn off the light sing a few songs and go to sleep.
This isn’t one day but the real parts of many, they are all this full. But some days there is Co-op and other’s are at Grandma’s house, and don’t forget I work and Papa works. But there you have it. I don’t need the circle times to see my son grow and connect with him. Our nature walks are full of science questions, he is undecided on the existence of fairies and would rather know how the bees pollinate the flowers anyway. I need to get over my own view of what this learning life is supposed to look like and embrace the beauty and ugly that it is.