I home school my two little–but rapidly growing–boys. What an education it is.
Lessons on my hygiene, for instance…At an indoor playground once, with my younger son in a baby-wearing get-up on my chest and the older one running around, I sipped on a tall cup of sweet tea. Another child approached me and asked what I was drinking. “Tea,” I answered him. “Huh?” he asked.
“Tea,” I repeated. “It’s tea, honey; I like to drink tea.” At this point, my older son galloped up and informed the other kid, “SWEET tea! My mom LOVES sweet tea, AND she forgets to brush her teeth!” Does that count as a “friendly reminder” to attend to my dental needs?
But there’s not just brushing; there’s also flossing. Sometimes I skip breakfast because, well, I’m fixing other people’s breakfasts. So then I polish off the bread crusts on my children’s plates from their toast at some point in the morning.
One morning, after having made good use of those leftover bits, I started math with my boys. I leaned in close to give my son encouragement and to offer him a big, warm smile. He peers at me quizzically and says, “You need to floss your teeth.” Well.
Math time does come close to breakfast time, and it’s our first “school section” that we accomplish at our kitchen table. Preparing for our math section one morning not too long ago, my younger son (who loves to give me big python hugs around the neck and poke his finger on various body parts of mine, shouting, “Black mamba!” or “Eyelash viper!” or the name of some other snake most people don’t know) grabbed me around the waist. Then, with strength I didn’t know this six-year-old possesses, he flung me around the kitchen crying out, “Alligator death roll!” I pointed weakly and in vain toward the table, then played along: “Oh, I’m your prey. You got me!” Not to worry, though; math soon followed.Turns out, even alligators like colorful workbooks. Who knew?
They also give me compliments, though. Once my husband asked the boys if they liked the lunch I’d made them. The older one said sagely, “She always makes good sandwiches.” And they teach me about superlatives, such as the time the older one told me I was “the goodest play-dough maker in the world” after I’d made them some homemade play-dough.
Sometimes this life that I’ve chosen and pursue–a life of teaching and parenting and loving my little ones–is hard, so hard that I call it the most challenging thing I’ve ever done. Some days there are tears, and some days there are laughs. Sometimes, both. And sometimes goodest is even better than best.