Normal means there is no normal.
Posted on November 16th, 2015
In the preparation for our trip and its aftermath, I didn’t bother to stick to our homeschooling curriculum or routine and I expected today to be difficult. (Actually, I don’t have a homeschooling curriculum or routine per se, but that’s a separate post. Or series of posts. You should see the shock when I say it in public!) We’d changed time zones twice right after returning to standard time, we were sick, we were exhausted. Since we don’t take off time for summer, I wasn’t worried. She was learning the entire time we traveled, through books and questions and talking to new people. She is always learning.
(I learned that I can fit into a 737 lavatory with pH, which, when I said to the flight attendant I couldn’t believe we’d managed, he said, “I couldn’t either.”)
But although Thursday we skipped a swimming lesson, we’d had time to recover. The weekend was fine.
Sunday was aikido. pH is often the senior student on Sundays, but wasn’t this Sunday–a relief for her, because she doesn’t end up demonstrating all the techniques.
A quarter of the way through the class, she started to look upset. A few minutes later, she started to quietly cry as they went through training. Then she started to audibly cry, snot and tears running, but still tried to work through it while mouthing, “Help me, Mom” when sensei wasn’t looking.
I don’t mind if she’s emotional in public. I’m a big girl and it doesn’t embarrass me, because I don’t care what the other parents think. I don’t mind if she’s scared of a new situation or shy, because frankly, I would have been (and was) at her age and both she and I warm up after taking stock of the situation. (I also started to experience depression when I was a year younger than she is, which is one of the reasons why we consulted a psychologist a while back, who pronounced her fine but told us we read too many books and overthought everything. Basically. In a nice way.) I don’t personally LIKE to have her attached to me like a remora in new situations, but it is what it is and her tolerance has improved.
But this was totally different. It’s aikido. She’s been doing it for a while. It would be a huge breach of etiquette for me to involve myself. But my baby was crying and I didn’t know why. My stomach was in knots. I mouthed “I love you” and nodded at sensei to indicate, look, you have to go to him if you want to get off the mat. Whenever she was demonstrating a technique, she was fine. Then she would cry again. Sensei picked up on it, was totally appropriate and had her work through it until she couldn’t, and then asked if she wanted to sit down or leave the mat. She wanted to leave the mat, and she spent the last part of the class curled in my lap…bear in mind she’s almost as tall as I am, albeit half my weight, and wears just about the same shoe size.
And she recovered. She laughed and helped with cleaning up after class. She was fine.
I have no idea what happened. None. There was no trigger, there was just the idea that maybe she was still sick or tired or something and it was too much. I asked sensei if I should have left (he said no, although I wished he’d said yes, because it was so hard to watch) and what he prefers (he said to work through it, which follows my thinking) if possible.
Pulling her out of school was tough, because I’m a professional and my husband is a professional and we listen to other professionals. I’d never say I’m competent to teach a class of children, but I’m competent to teach one child, I hope. So as a result, I defer to most of the people who teach pH; my philosophy is they can be as firm as is appropriate as long as it’s, well, appropriate. The homeschooling is about learning, not about hiding her away from the big, bad world and treating her like a special snowflake. I joke I’m not a helicopter mom, but that I’m an Apache Mom–I’m there for strategic involvement but I trust the troops on the ground. She is my special snowflake, but she has to live in the real world with mean people and peanuts and loud noises and other unpleasant things. Life.
Today we had to wake up early to get kH to an appointment. Yes, kH can get himself to appointments but it’s better for everyone if I drive, and he has a job interview in another state in a couple of days and that merits a break or two. That meant pH had to wake up early, which usually means a cranky child. I was dreading it, but I brought my laptop and when he was at his appointment, after she had ordered her (large) hot chocolate and muffin at the espresso stand (she goes up and gets her own order; she is a Portland kid) and finished it, we went online.
(Part of my not-using-a-scripted-curriculum involve online resources as well as paper resources, based on the research I’d done about different parts of the brain being involved in problem solving on paper vs. screens. It’s worth it. To my surprise, she does math better on screens than on paper.)
It was awesome. Amazing. In the waiting room, she kept asking for more science because she zipped through them so fast; I had to sandwich math and language arts in between science topics (which was a reward for doing the rest). At home we did more. She and I read about Eleanor of Aquitaine, alternating in a way that somehow ended up with me getting most of the French words. (“Why do I have to read out loud? I can read faster in my head.” “Me too, but reading out loud well is a skill you have to have, so suck it up, kid. Now you say ‘Poitiers.'”)
Yesterday she was a mess; today before two she knocked out about two weeks worth of work, and that didn’t include any of her reading-for-pleasure. I had to remind her to have lunch. She was giggly.
Granted, we have aikido again tonight, so you might want to think good thoughts for us. I’m going to give her a Tylenol, make sure her her blood sugar is up, and hope for the best.