Teacher on Strike!

    Our morning started out just fine.  The boys were actually up before me for once and they played on the computer and the Wii rather nicely.  They started watching TV during breakfast and Ian watched a full episode of Yukon Men.  The boys all got ready fairly early when I reminded them they had dentist appointments today.  I asked them all to pick a hallway or non carpeted floor to sweep and Swiffer and they eagerly helped, taking turns with the brooms and the Swiffer.  They played in their rooms and built with Lego sets.  They were getting along and having fun so I let them be for a while.  It was nice and peaceful and I was so eager to see how our day would unfold.  I didn't have much on our agenda since we did have two dentist appointments around lunch and knew that it was pointless to try and cover all that much before leaving and that we would be eating a late lunch and not be in the mood for school afterwards. 
    I went into Evan's room and we sat down together.  He read Kites and Quick as a Cricket to me.  It was great.  He eagerly read both books and talked to me about the mistakes he made while trying to read last night.  The boys all asked about zoo trips and field trips and I assured them we had many planned but that a day with dentist appointments in the middle of it was not a good field trip day.  I told them that they could play Kindle games today for math and that I'd even let them play other learning games while we  were in the car or at the dentist.  They were thrilled.  It was shaping up to be a really fun day. 
   I offered to read to the boys about Washington, D.C. and we all sat on the couch together reading. This was the only real school work I had planned for the day and honestly if they had said that they'd rather play I probably would have let them.  The boys eagerly told me all that they knew about Washington, D.C. and we started to read Journey Around Washington, D.C. from A to Z.  We stopped on just about every page to discuss the picture and I reminded the boys of the movies Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian and National Treasure (1 and 2).  I'd love to say that we had a great time learning but we didn't.  Once again my boys started bickering, hitting one another, playing with the blinds and the blind cord, laughing and giggling, etc..  I don't expect them to sit perfectly still and listen to our books.  They are allowed to play quietly, build with blocks, color, make a loom band bracelet, etc. while we read.  I encourage talking about what we are reading and even love to hear them laugh if it's a silly book we're reading.  Book time doesn't have to be quiet time.  I know even if their hands are busy they are listening and learning so I don't mind that but lately they are getting so loud while I read and I just can't stand how rude that is-- it's not even book related chit chat!  It's just noise and I spend most of my time trying to ignore them, get through the book, and just read louder and louder until my throat hurts.  I stopped repeatedly and reminded them about being polite, about being quiet, about being respectful and even about what happened yesterday.  I thought after I walked away yesterday they might have learned their lesson, but apparently not.  We finished up Journey Around Washington and had barely started into This Is Washington, D.C. when I, once again, started yelling at them.  I handed Alec the book and walked out of the room.  I turned around when I reached the door and told them in no uncertain terms that there would be NO Kindle playing today.  I was done teaching but they were not done school.  I told them to find something to do for school and to finish reading the rest of the Washington D.C. book on their own. 

    I felt awful, they were crying and I was all angry and yelling, but looking back, I'm really not sure that I would have handled it any differently.  I reminded them that they are 6 (almost 7), 8, and 10 and should be able to sit respectfully for a book.  I asked for suggestions on other ways to learn about the states thinking that the books are too boring to hold their attention.  They all shrugged and pulled out their math workbooks (I guess they couldn't think of anything else to do for math without the Kindle) and worked on them independently.  They were still loud, fighting, and even throwing pencils around at one another!  Our fun day and quick morning was soon turning into a horrible day.  I was struggling to figure out how to turn our day around.  I debated about pushing through and making the rest of our day miserable.  I hate giving up on schoolwork when their behavior is at fault because I feel like I'm giving into their bad behavior but I also realized that this was probably a day when we really needed to take a break. 
   Ian completed a page on adding large numbers together with regrouping in his math book and corrected himself using the answer key in the back of the book.  Alec completed two pages on multiplication in his book and Evan worked on counting up objects and using the greater than/ less than sign to compare the groups.  Evan also pulled out his Star Wars phonics book and completed two pages with short vowel sounds. 
   We arrived at the dentist and despite my many, many warnings that we would be there for a long time they chose not to bring anything with them.  Evan went into the room and  had his teeth cleaned all by himself.  He had a great check up!  Ian asked me to go in with him and he too had a great check up.  We had a new hygienist today and she asked us a lot of questions about homeschooling.  She envied us our freedom and told us she always wanted to homeschool but didn't think she had the patience.  I had to laugh and admitted honestly that I didn't have the patience for it today either.  The boys were complemented on their behavior and their manners and we all left in much better moods.
   The boys begged to go out to lunch and run a few errands and I reluctantly agreed.  I had left my list at home; thinking we were not going anywhere we didn't have to when no one was behaving and they spent the car ride helping me re-write our list.  Ian found paper and pencil and wrote up all the items we could remember and a few new ones we thought of. 
   We had a delicious lunch at the Pub 99 and the waitress commented that she was impressed that all three boys could order for themselves and use "please" and 'thank you" while doing so.  We played Tic Tac Toe and somehow got onto a whole discussion of movies and TV shows.  Something about our meal reminded Evan of the movie The Great Outdoors.  We started talking about where it was filmed and what happened during the movie.  We discussed Muppets Most Wanted and talked about Ross Lynch (the star of Austin and Ally that is in that Muppet movie).  We used my phone to look up information about his singing career and learned about his band R5.  That led to talk of Selena Gomez and her part in The Wizards of Waverly Place.  Evan asked me if I could find out where Karan Brar was born (of course we didn't know his name at the time either so we learned that today too).  Though this was mostly "fluff'  and pop culture we still had wonderful discussion and learned a lot. 
   Once our lunch was over we went to Kay jewelers and had my ring cleaned and inspected.  The boys were having a great time looking at all the charms they had and one of the ladies came over to talk to them about the bracelets and how they work.  I could tell she was really enjoying interacting with the boys as they eagerly pointed out charms to one another and she eagerly showed them even more.  She talked to them about buying gifts for mom and how this is one gift that they could add on to for each holiday and occasion.  She gave them a free booklet to take home and it was so nice to see the boys having so much fun conversing with a complete stranger.  She knew they weren't going to be buying anything but she still took the time to spend with them and they all said thank you to her as they left. 
    Our next stop was Target.  The boys have a few birthday parties coming up for their friends.  I gave them a budget and then they had free reign of the toy department to spend their money however they saw fit.  They added, subtracted and made their own decisions.  I saw them debating the size of some gifts versus others trying to take what I call the "wow" factor into place.  They debated what toys their friends were most likely to get the most use out of.  They talked about what toys they thought their friends had and what interests they had too.  We had fun and we were smiling all afternoon. 
     We listened to a lot of our book on CD and stopped at the library on our way home. We had a lot of books to drop off and just a few that had some in.  While there the older two boys each found another book they wanted to check out and since I never say no to free library books we walked out with more than we had planned. 
   Once home Ian went out to work on his town/ quarry he's building in the sand with his trucks while the younger two boys went back to playing with their Lego sets.  They've rediscovered their Chima and Ninjago sets and have been staging battles and rescues with them.  We ended our day on such a positive note and I was so happy that we hadn't forced ourselves through a whole day of monotonous lessons as punishment for bad behavior.  They all packed their dinner into their lunch boxes as we prepared for another night of soccer and haircuts.  Maybe I should go on strike more often.  They seemed very self- reliant today!


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