Tuesday, November 16, 2010

In Which The Author Has an Afternoon of Peace and Harmony (at least for a few minutes)

For all the complaining I do about living in my car and driving my children from activity to activity, you would think that we never have a moment to breathe and relax, but I haven't been entirely truthful.  Through pure scheduling luck, on one day a week, we are foot-loose and activity-free.  Each Wednesday, once school is over, we're done for the day.  Wednesdays have become the perfect day for finishing up school work, having friends over, playing outside or simply being quiet and alone inside.  For my active kids, Wednesdays are just about wonderful. 

My oldest child, Henry, is a firm believer in a game plan and not afraid of a little repetition.  Every day after school, as he is fastening his seatbelt in the car, he asks, "what are we doing today?"  and I usually spend the next few minutes reciting a list of activities and car trips that end with the words, "... and then you have hockey."  I'm not sure if he even hears most of my speech, because the first item, "After snack, you are going to do some homework," is one that sends him into fits of despair.  (And did you see how I attached the homework item with the snack, thus making it a little more palatable?) 

To Henry, homework has never been a favorite activity.

Sometimes, it can be overwhelming.  Last year, Henry had a teacher who gave out way too much homework but he has been pleasantly surprised with his new teacher's homework expectations.  So far, it's been the perfect amount and the perfect level.  Let's keep our fingers crossed.  In the past, I dreaded homework time but this year has been much better.  I've learned to maintain a strict time table for homework, which has also really helped.  One thing I've learned about children, is that they usually do best if they have some structure and dear Henry is living proof of it. 

This year, Veteran's Day fell on a Thursday which gave our already relaxing Wednesday a Friday-like feel.  I guess my children didn't notice or else I've just done a great job at establishing the routine, but when the time came around after snack, they got out their homework.  I kept waiting for one of them to put it all together and realize that they didn't necessarily have to do their homework that day, but no one did.  And I didn't tell them.  The homework gods looked down upon us and all three children did their work without complaining. 



Yes, Georgia is standing up and doing her homework.  She doesn't always, but she comes from a long line of people who can't sit still and so she moves around.  A lot.


A homework session without tantrums was gift enough, but more was yet to come.  After homework was finished, the children ran off to work on some project that they had started before school that morning.  I didn't know what the project involved, but I did know it hadn't ended peacefully.  When we left for school that morning, one child was in high dudgeon, one was sniffling and the other was still arguing about fairness and equality.  Morning is too early for any of these concepts, as far as I'm concerned, and I managed to ignore all three and act like it was a perfectly wonderful morning and that everyone was happy. 

That was why the peaceful silence that followed the homework was a little off-putting.  I went upstairs to investigate and I found this:


They had made lego vehicles and were beginning a contest in the hallway to see whose car would go the furthest.  I wouldn't say that I had been expecting the worse, because if the worst was happening, tears and arguing would be occurring.  But I wasn't sure of what I would find either, so this non-combative game was certainly a surprise.  

When my children were younger, I would never have allowed myself a minute - or even a second - before investigating if things quieted down.  When young children are quiet, you can be certain of disaster.  The only thing that is uncertain is what the disaster is going to be once you get there.  Are they playing beauty parlor and your youngest child will be sporting some seriously artistic bangs?  Are they playing art teacher and your furniture will be covered in sharpie?  The possibilities are endless. 

Not so with older children. Older children understand the rules and more importantly, the consequences.  But, they are still sneaky, don't get me wrong.  They just know how to cover their tracks so that you don't find out about any of their mischief for awhile.  You might be straightening up one day and you find a lock of someone's hair, hidden under a magazine in a closet or you might spend a few minutes trying to wipe the red toothpaste off the counter before you realize that is not actually toothpaste.  And you will wonder, when did they do this?  Because that's the difference between older and younger children.  With older children, there's no quiet period.  There is no exact moment that you can look back on and say, "that's what they were doing." 

But let's get away from the suspicions and the accusations, because THIS DAY was a good one.  And my three children were being cooperative, creative and most importantly, happy.  When you are raising three children, it is important to remain positive.


Here is Georgia's lego car.  Georgia went first.


Here she is receiving advice from her older brother.  Advice, not an angry shove, and that is truly something.


And it's off!


Next it was Josie's turn.


Henry gave her advice as well.

Alas, the car only went a few inches before crashing into the wall.  Like a good five year old, Josie showed her displeasure at not winning. 

I chose this moment to sneak away.  I wanted to remember the positive.  An entire afternoon of peace and tranquility is too rare to spoil!  Here's to hoping every Wednesday is as wonderful. 

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