What started out as a great day soon led to me questioning what we've been doing lately. Things had been going so well (perhaps too well to last?), the boys were growing by leaps and bounds, getting along so well, loving life, each other and school. We've turned to unschooling for the summer with the occasional bouts of "real" school thrown in (though rarely!). We've been kicking back, enjoying the weather, nature, and one another. They all started bickering a bit toward the end of last week but we had been stuck inside with rainy weather and kids feeling under the weather so I tried my best to ignore it and hope it would soon change. I spent a good portion of our day on Thursday purchasing and printing out Groupons for some new and exciting places to check out. I figured a few new things to do and keep them occupied would help turn everyone's attitudes around. They spent all weekend outside playing with their various cousins swimming, jumping off the dock, kayaking, building castles, covering the dock with mud, playing Harry Potter, and so much more. We had campfires, made s'mores, and played with sparklers. It was mostly fun with not too much fighting.
I woke feeling excited to start our week. The boys were quietly and happily playing Wii, Computer and watching a movie. I managed to exercise, do housework, laundry and cooking. They turned them off and got breakfast ready joking with one another and playing around. I read the final chapter of Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets and we were eagerly awaiting the start of book three. We decided to head out on a field trip to a "new to us" place and the boys were thrilled. They ran upstairs and started getting ready.
I came down to fighting, tears, lies, and other mayhem and after much (MUCH) internal debate decided that I can't keep ignoring these little bursts of dishonesty and meanness I keep getting glimpses of. I canceled our trip and felt so bad when they burst into tears. I held firm though in my belief that if I keep letting it slide and give them second, third, and fourth chances then I'm not teaching them that these behaviors are important to me. I too was so bummed and trying not to cry. I hate that our entire spring has passed us by with hardly any trips. This is typically the time of year we're gone from home most every day and I know schools are letting out within a week in our area, these places are going to start getting crowded and our window to really enjoy them is closing. I'm bummed that I missed out on what promised to be such a fun and exciting day with my boys. I'm bummed that it seems like every time we've got it together, we've got it figured out, they're getting along and we're loving this homeschooling thing it all changes and seems to slip through our fingers. We then spend weeks (sometimes months) trying to find our way back to our joy in one another and in homeschooling, trying out new routines, new materials, etc. I'm getting kind of sick of the roller coaster.
My younger two bounced back rather quickly about not being able to go anywhere today and they headed out to play together in the rain running around the house and playing on the swing set. Ian, however, was like a dog with a bone and just would not let it drop. As much as it saddened me further it was nice to have a honest and frank talk with him. As he kept questioning why we couldn't go & crying and begging me to change my mind we had a talk about appropriate behavior, keeping our hands to ourselves, owning up to our actions, and so much more. The more we talked the more I realized I had to hold firm because he genuinely seemed to think it was OK to pick on his brothers because he was bored, or because they hurt his feelings a few days/ weeks ago, or that if be begged enough we'd all just forget about it. He actually told me he started the fight this morning because he was bored and sick of being around the house. I reminded him that I've been offering field trips for weeks and being met with shrugged shoulders and being asked to stay home and play wiffle ball instead. I reminded him that we were going somewhere today so he wouldn't be bored but that we have to actually make it OUT of the house and we can't do that if they can't get ready and get along. He really seemed to blame me and more and more I wondered what we have been teaching them.
Before I started feeling too dejected though I made myself think critically back over the past few days and weeks and really think about what life has been like; what are the moments that really stick out to me? What has it really been like? Is it just me today? Am I in a funk? Is it really that bad? And I realized it really was just today; this moment, this hour, this morning that was tainting my whole view of our last few months! We've had a great few months and so many great times stick out in my mind. Wonderful times spent as a family, wonderful learning opportunities shared, happy memories like watching the three boys swimming across our portion of the lake yesterday to help their great uncle build a floating dock. Great memories like listening to Alec and Evan planning out how to play Quidditch on Saturday. Great memories like heading to the raptor center on Friday. Great memories like watching the final Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows together on Friday night. Remembering how, Alec in particular, remembered such minute details from the two books we've read and the other movies we've watched that he knew Ron and Hermione were going to get basilisk fangs, he knew the resurrection stone was inside the snitch, and he knew that either Fred or George was dead. I think the moment he turned to me and said (and I'm paraphrasing here because I can't remember the exact words he used) "wait, Harry was a horcrux? Horcruxes are killed with basilisk fangs. Why then didn't Harry die when the basilisk got him in the chamber of secrets? It doesn't make sense?" Honestly, I had never put that together myself but he's right! My husband just rolled his eyes and told Alec he was just like his mother. I always get upset when books or movies aren't consistent and don't make sense; fiction or not it has to at least be somewhat logical. Now that Alec has brought that to my attention I have to say I can't help but wonder how I missed that all these years. Perhaps as we finish reading through the rest of the series we'll find a plausible answer.
I remembered the two times we ate dinner out this week (something that almost never happens!) and how well behaved the boys were... well, other than when it was time to get back in the car and they all fought over who got to sit where. But since I was trying to find pleasant memories I tried purposely to block those unpleasant memories. I remembered that Alec has been reading up a storm tearing through chapter books like nobody's business. I remembered listening to all three boys dictating facts to me to type up on my blog about the raptor center and all they learned that day. I remembered them banding together to play wiffle ball all these weeks quickly agreeing on batting order, who would set up the game and just having fun with one another. I fondly remember all our picnics in the yard where we listened to Harry Potter, watched birds, helicopters, boats, ducks, and just enjoyed being together in the fresh air and sunshine.
I decided I needed to let go of my anger and dismay over our day and just know that this too will pass. One bad day does not discount all the good ones. I'm still hopeful that our day will turn around and I'll look fondly back on all that we did and all the fun we had but if not I know that tomorrow is another day.