Last week I was writing a post about how uni has finished and what I’ll do next, because the family got along fine without much extra attention from me, and nobody missed me. This week I’m thinking I was living in a fool’s paradise.
The catalyst for the change is two things really. Daughter 1 was offered a place in the OC stream of another school (opportunity class for gifted and talented kids, offering a compressed curriculum and extended learning opportunities), and daughter 2 has a music exam coming up which she is not prepared for.
The OC offer is one that many families would have been working towards. I was kind of surprised, but not surprised, that she got the offer. We don’t do tutoring in our family, and most of the kids offered places would have been tutored. She did the test just to practise doing the test (it is like an IQ test or Public Service exam), never considering she’d accept an offer. But once the offer was made, she started wondering. I’ve spent a few days doing research about the school. They are having an orientation day on Tuesday, and we said we’d go, just out of curiosity, but she has a rehearsal for School Spectacular that day, so I might go on my own. Accepting the offer would mean changing schools, having to drive her there and back each day. And me not being available for the other children. I really don’t feel like getting to know everything about another school. We’re happy where we are, and she can walk to school. None of her friends were offered a place and we don’t know anyone there.
Not accepting the offer means that I might have to extend her opportunities a little myself. I spoke to our school principal about what it all means, and I must say she was very impressive. If I didn’t already love her, I would want to be at her school after that conversation. She said the plus of accepting would be that my daughter would be with like-minded kids. I asked if those kids would be tutored. She said that 95% of them would be. Well that makes my daughter the 5% , so she wouldn’t be with like-minded kids.
Staying where we are means that she will be involved in the enrichment program which extends the brighter kids. That’s a program which is working well. Staying means she has a better chance at gaining a leadership position in the higher years. That’s something she’s interested in. If she wants she can join the band, learn an instrument, or do an extra ballet class at the better ballet school (she’s doing a summer school week long workshop there as her Christmas present). I could be more involved in her reading and help her there. And I could take her to museums and cultural activities. We’ve been pacing ourselves on these kinds of excursions, and maybe it is time to venture further than our local area. So, that means more time and attention from me. Without me turning her education or stimulation into a project.
Daughter 2 has been learning her instrument this year, and changed teachers at the time that the exam information was released. She was a few pages behind the level expected. I’ve started supervising my daughter’s practice, and I’d be very surprised if she passes. Doing homework and home practice isn’t something that she manages herself well, and I’d kind of given up, being sick of nagging, telling her that these things are her responsibility and she’ll have to cop the consequences. But now I feel like I’ve failed her. She has a CD and CD Rom with her book, and we’ve never played either.
All the kids want me to teach them to cook. I hardly ever read to them anymore, because they are more interested in watching tv shows after dinner a few nights a week. Two have coughs that I’m not tending to, one needs to use otovent to clear her ears or we'll end up at the ENT specialist who will want to give her grommets, one needs eye ointment, and I’m not being diligent about these things. They want to play board games with me and I hardly ever do that. The youngest was particularly vocal about not liking me studying.
And when I think about how much I read with the oldest child compared to the youngest... chalk and cheese.
Last week I spent two days making tutus for their school dance group that has a performance on this week. I have another costume to make tomorrow, and another costume to repair. This week, and the next few weeks, will be crazy busy, just with all the commitments the kids have taken on, and the jobs I do voluntarily. I really don’t have time to study.
I spent the whole weekend looking after the household and family. Trying to get a few loads of washing dry in the sun before it rains again. Taking kids to dance class (preparation for end of year concert), taking them for a fitting for their School Spectacular costume, feeding them, talking to them, helping with music practice, combing for nits, and so on, preparing for the week ahead. Still I have made no attempt to tidy or clean the house. And I realised that I actually need to spend more time with the kids, not less.
Now to rethink the idea of working, the idea of a mother doing her own thing, the realities of what the kids need, and how to make it all fit...