4 kids in 3 years: reflections on motherhood, art and life.
We were having our typical conversation at Market Basket:
Me: Something that begins with the letter B?
Me: Who remembers the sign language for B? Mica, stop it! That’s 1, and if you keep grabbing things as we go by you’re going to get you fingers chopped off by the shelves.
Jasper: Can we weigh the fruit?
Me: Which will weigh more? These 5 huge pears or this one teeny, tiny personal watermelon? Cabot, that’s 2! Stop kicking your brother! You are about to lose your car Fig Newtons!
All 4 kids: The watermelon!
And a woman passing by with her carriage asked, “Oh, do you homeschool them? You do so well.”
Me: No homeschooling. Just keeping them occupied. And we’re not doing that well. Cabot’s about to lose her Fig Newtons, Mica’s about to lose his fingers and we’re only in the produce aisle, but thanks!
Because I’m a teacher. Or as I usually say, I was a teacher, of art and art history, then I gave birth to my twins two months before their due date. And that’s all she wrote. I was also a diversity coordinator, part of a team that worked on multicultural education, enrichment and outreach for our community. And I was a coach of field hockey and lacrosse.
Now I’m just a stay-at-home mom, a sometimes runner and an occasional artist. At least, that’s what I thought until I picked Jasper up from his first day of kindergarten. He was glowing! He hopped into the car with confidence and tossed his library reusable shopping bag in the front seat. After a list of what he’d done on his first day of school- Chocolate milk! Gym class! Splatt the Cat!- I asked about the bag.
Jasper had loved his first visit to the school library. We frequent our awesome neighborhood library on a regular basis. We know where different books are kept, what days story hours are offered and the names of our amazing children’s librarians. And they know us. We are in with the librarians. But this was Jasper’s first solo visit, or at least first visit with 14 other chattering kindergarteners, but no Mama.
And the books he’d checked out? Harriet Tubman and Ancient Greece.
“Huh,” I replied dumb-founded.
“Yeah. The librarian is ordering the book on Jasper Johns so that should be in next week but she showed me where I could find these.”
“You requested these books?!”
I almost cried. And later that night after reading another chapter in our seventh Andrew Clements book, tucking him in and turning off the light, I started to rethink home schooling. I mean, I know what the legal definition is, and in select circumstances, I get it. But I’m a school teacher. I believe in cultivating teamwork, a professional teacher’s expertise in a subject, the balance that comes from your children being exposed to a world beyond what you, the parent, has experienced. In general, I believe in sending your kids to school if you can and if they can. In my rethinking of home-schooling though, I came to the conclusion that, for better or for worse, we’re all home-schooling.
So when my husband inadvertently fell asleep watching the VMAs the other night with Jasper on his lap watching a rare stolen half hour of television, well, he learned something. (Thanks, for that, Miley Cyrus. Thank you.) And when we watched a video about Harriet Tubman last spring, well he was learning something, too. When I teach them that there are repercussions for biting your sister or when I scream at them for not putting on their shoes, well, you get it. These sponges we are raising are absorbing everything we send their way, how we respect each other, what we value, what we read and why.
And to that woman somewhere in Rowley, I’m just raising them at home the best I can.