Thursday, August 09, 2007

It's that time of year again...

The air is still be stifling hot outside, but there's no denying the season is changing. It just has nothing to do with the weather.

Back-to-School marketing has been interrupting the kids' favorite shows for weeks already, trying to convince us to get excited about heading to the nearest mega-mart to stock up on writing utensils, binders and backpacks. According to Walmart, KMart and Staples, going back to school has less to do with the routine of bus schedules and homework than with the need to buy new stuff. And it has almost nothing to do with fall, since most schools around the country start the new semester in mid-August while it's still 90-something degrees outside.

Unfortunately, I'm totally falling prey to the propaganda. What is it about new things that make them so appealing? Why is it so easy to believe that getting something new will make us feel better about our lives? Why is buying a cute new pair of shoes so darn exciting?

I admit that as a kid I did NOT like shopping for school shoes. I wore size 11 by fifth grade. Very few shoemakers make shoes for girls in size 11. I remember one summer driving two hours to Los Angeles, then searching three different malls to find a pair of shoes that looked cute on a five-foot-eleven-inch 12-year-old. Maybe that's why it's so exciting to find a pair I like in my size even now.

In any case, since we're unschooling, I obviously don't have a list on the fridge of all the supplies I'd be required to purchase if my sons were heading back to the local elementary school in 10 days. We can buy drawing paper when we want some, when we realize we've run out. I can pick up a notebook for journaling when I've filled my last one, or new crayons when I realize they're all broken again.

But there's still something tempting about all that stuff filling the seasonal section in the back of Target right now. It triggers very old memories; that feeling of excitement that comes when you're preparing for a change, for some new not-wholly-familiar adventure.

I actually liked school as a kid. Maybe not as much as summer freedom, but by the end of each break, I was looking forward to getting back in the routine, seeing friends who didn't live in our neighborhood -- deciding which color backpack and binders to get for the new school year.

Now that I'm a homeschooling mom married to a teacher, the approach of fall has less to do with preparing the kids for school, and more to do with how we're going to survive losing UberDad to the workday again.

Even when he teaches summer school, we have a lot more time together over the summer months. This summer we had almost every day. The boys got used to having a parent available whenever they needed one -- to read a WoW quest, pour another glass of chocolate soy milk, play their favorite card game, kiss an owie, take them out for ice cream cones. If one of us was busy, the other could take care of it.

With UberDad back at school, I'm going to have to meet all those needs by myself during the day -- again. I have to remind myself that this isn't the first time. Last fall I had a newborn to care for! This year should be a cinch!

Part of my problem is that I want to raise the bar for myself. With Baby Fish getting a little more independent, I'll have more time to play with all three boys than I did last year. Because part of the point of being home with my kids, and keeping them home, is to do stuff together. Not just so we can sit at the table and play school. They're not interested in that kind of thing very often. Not just to fill the week with playdates. We'll have plenty, but it's nice to be at home with just each other, too. And not so I can do my own thing while they entertain themselves, even if they do so happily most of the time.

So, sitting at the dinner table tonight, I asked the boys what they'd like to do when Daddy goes back to work. I thought maybe they'd like to do more science projects or help me plant a new vegetable garden. I wondered if there was anything they'd hoped to do that I hadn't gotten around to yet.

Their first answers: "Play World of Warcraft ALL day long!" "Drink lots of chocolate soy milk." "Play BUZZ!" "Eat ice cream."

Hmm, sounds a lot like summer. Maybe I can do this after all. And maybe I'll get started on that vegetable garden and see if they eventually join me.


John said...

that was fun to read, supermom. you can do this, and you'll have a great garden, and the boys will join you, and it will all be great.

Amanda said...

Thanks, John. :) And I hope you know you guys are welcome to come by and hang out in the garden anytime!

Stephanie said...

Hi Amanda,
I enjoyed reading here and isn't kinda cool to be unschooling and married to a teacher? It happens more than I thought it did, how awesome, glad I found you.

bliss said...

if she thought she could swing it, baby bliss would send me to work in mr. bliss's place at least an hour each day so SHE could have ice cream every day. :-) even tho home/unschooling never really takes a break, we're sad summer is officially ending. :-& but we're happy we can school at the pool for as long as the hot weather holds out. :-)

Amanda said...

Bliss -- poolside "schooling" sounds awesome! I just have to find one, since I'm not sure the neighborhood pool is still open once school starts. :P

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