I know this is probably a familiar story to any parent who home schools. The big fight(s) about getting the actual work done. We had a lovely one today. But we also ended up with an amazing save driven by Katie. I am still in awe.
I’ll admit it.
Today was awful. I started with work at 6am and it didn’t really stop until 6pm. Katie had her first day of “school” – an activity day with kids at our home school base – and while it was good, she’s still struggling to make new friends. So we both were together for a half hour to share a snack and talk before I had to get back on phone calls. We agreed she could watch a little TV to unwind and rest and then she’d get started on the school work she had totally ignored on Monday.
My call went very long and I came out 90 minutes later to find her still watching television. And needless to say, I was chapped. We ended up fighting about two things – me working too much and her not working at all. It wasn’t pretty and while I was trying to listen to her about why she hated what she was doing (which right now is anything that involves reading. period. the end.), I took things personally because one reason I was working so much was so I could take the day off tomorrow to go to the fair. I was disappointed she couldn’t understand that.
So we both stormed off mad. Yep, I had to get on yet another call and she grabbed her books and pounded out the work – punctuated by the one-by-one plunking down of said work right in the middle of my desk! I got off my last call at 6pm and pulled together dinner (thankfully we had invited my mom over to eat so she kind of broke the tension). And I asked my best friend for help.
Thank goodness my old college roommate has been in Katie’s life since the get go. And her energy is completely different from mine (in a really good way). So I asked her to check in with Katie, confidentially, and the result couldn’t have been better. Katie got to talk about her side of things, my friend offered sage advice (damn! who knew!) and Katie came off the call inspired.
“Mom, we are writing a contract.”
She told me we needed a set of agreements so we wouldn’t get in a mess anymore. First was her agreement that she wouldn’t get mad about me working. That she understood I often didn’t have a lot of control and that it wasn’t fair to me if she got mad at me about it.
Holy cow. Out of the mouths of babes.
On my part, I had to agree not to yell. This is a delicate dance because in Katie’s head firm words are yelling but I heard her and I agreed. We added to the list and decided to keep it as a “work in progress” that we could adjust at anytime.
So will it work?
I don’t know. But I feel like we got to a new place today. Painful, exhausting but moving forward. I would love to hear how other families have negotiated the work/school/feelings balance. It’s an interesting process and I am sure we still have miles to go!