Saturday, February 26, 2011

Fixing and changing and fixing some more

Before embarking on this little adventure, I fancied myself a veteran of home renovations. Over the course of five years, Erik and I did everything to our house from minor work (painting) to major work (ripping out the kitchen and starting fresh). There wasn't a room in our house that we didn't tackle.  It was dirty, disruptive, and oh-so-satisfying when it was done.

But I always had a place to hide. Either in another room, or, if things got really messy, at my parents' place.  While the destruction was at its worst, I never had to be in the middle of it if I didn't want to.

And then: Papillon.

Amy: We are fixing the electrical system/plumbing/lights/magic fairies living under the floorboards.  I'll just go sit in the salon.

Hmm.  Occupied.  Well, maybe I'll get myself a drink.

Right.  The fridge is buried. Then I'll just heat up a cup of tea on the... oh.

 Okay, no drink.  Why don't I go sit in the cockpit.

Anywhere down below?

Oh.  There isn't even a floor anymore.  Well, nuts.

Yep.  Nowhere to hide.  At all.  My stress levels were so high I actually had a measurable blood pressure for a few days.  As a side note, everything you see in these photos is still aboard.  Really.  The tardis that is our locker space holds all this and more.  The joy (and the mess) comes when we need to access a panel inside one of those lockers, and so need to empty it out.  Or empty them all out.

And how, might you ask, were the girls doing during all of this?

Totally unfazed.  They burrowed through the mess, carved out three square feet of space, and kept playing.  My girls!

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Hey! Teacher! Leave them kids alone.

One of the great joys of this trip is getting to be with the kids all day.  Yes, I’ve been home with them since Stylish was born, but since the day she trotted off to Junior Kindergarten, she has had her own thing going on.  That is healthy and normal.  Nonetheless, I wouldn’t have minded the odd hint about what she did at school.  Every day, she would get off the bus and we would have the following conversation from the Stock Dialogue Catalogue:

Mom:  “Stylish!  Welcome home.  How was your day?”
Stylish:  “Fine.”
Mom:  “What did you do today?”
Stylish:  “Nothing.”

During her first year at school, my mother was still Head of School, and in that way I would gather some tidbits about interesting happenings around campus.  Fire drills, funny things that happened at recess... that sort of thing.  Sadly, on mom’s retirement, my news source dried up.

Via report cards and talking with teachers, I had a pretty good idea of what sort of a student Stylish was.  I thought I was pretty well acquainted with her strengths and weaknesses.  When the prospect of homeschooling loomed, I reassured myself that, as a well-educated person, I could do this.  Piece of cake.

Wrong, wrong, wrong.

Oh, yes.  I have all of the materials I need.  I have a school willing to hold my hand and help me along.  I have a great student.  I have the time, energy and interest to do this thing right.

What I lack is the authority.

Kids are willing to listen to teachers in a way that they will never grant their parents.  Perhaps they know us too well.  Maybe watching mom yawn and stretch and scratch and wash every morning makes her all too human to be listened to with solemn attention.

Whatever the reason, this is a problem.  Because I am Stylish’s teacher.  And I need her to listen to me.  So, heaven help me, Erik and I find ourselves invoking the holy names of Real Teachers with alarming frequency in order to get things done.

“What would Mrs M say about you doing a headstand in the middle of Handwriting?”
“Would Mr P let me cut your meat for you?”
“Do you think Mrs L would accept that sort of tone from you?”

It is mortifying.  And what is worse, it works.  And just in case I were tempted to think that I was doing all right, Stylish provides examples of The Proper Way To Do It, as learned from these sages.

“Mom, we don’t say ‘perfect letters.’  We say ‘impeccable letters.’”

For crying out loud.

 When filling out her Valentines, the teacher card went straight in the mail to Mrs M.  She Skypes with her Real Class back home.  She wonders, “What is happening at school right now?”  Now, I know perfectly well that this is also her way of coping with being away from home.  And I am sure that Mr Wonderful and Mrs Dazzling also saw a less-than-impeccable side of Stylish from time to time.

I’d like to think we’ve found our way together.  We are getting more work done, bickering less, and having fun.  (Plus, I showed her a rocket launch and let her touch a shark.  Kerpow!  Double Awesome Field Trip  Attack!)

Even if I am not a Real Teacher, hopefully I can be a Good Enough Teacher to keep her in line with her peers so that reintegration won’t be a disaster.

I’m not in it for the glory, after all.  I’m just glad that I get to be Mom all day for a little while longer.

P.S.  Before I was able to post this, I took Stylish to get a haircut.  In the course of chatting, the lady divined that Stylish was in first grade.  She asked Stylish who her teacher was.  After a pause, she said, "Mommy."

Oh.  Yeah.  I'm official now, baby!

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Amy feeds the Caribbean

As a child, I was invisible to mosquitoes.  I ranged through the woods behind our house with impunity, with nary a bug bite to show for it.  My mother was the designated sacrifice for our family; she must have gotten a hundred bites for every one received by the rest of us.

Oh, I miss those days.

Many years ago, Erik and I took a road trip across Canada and the US.  Being young students, we camped most of the time.  We stopped one night in Winnipeg.  Flat, swampy Winnipeg.  As we pitched our tent, I complained continuously about the mosquitoes.  Erik told me, in essence, that he wasn't getting bitten, so kindly quiet down you maker-upper of stories.  The next morning, he was forced to admit that the hundreds of bites I had on my legs were not, in fact, a dream.  "Oh, you did get bitten!" he said with surprise.  Well, duh.

Sometime after the arrival of Stylish, I was forced to admit that I was the new sacrifice.  This was rarely an issue, as the biting bug population back home is nothing now like it was back in the day, but we would make the odd foray "up north", where mosquitoes and black flies are still a going concern.  I would spend those weeks at the cottage scratching and complaining, but it was never too bad.  I could hack it.

Then we went to Bimini.  And the no-see-ums arrived.  And I was the most delicious thing on the menu.

The family would gather in the morning to compare bites.  Everyone always felt much better about their own red welts when I showed up.  I was the new Mom, out-competing the rest fifty-to-one.  It was a dubious honor, and one I would rather forgo.

After a couple of weeks, the mosquitoes arrived to make the situation worse.

Perhaps it is a mother's role to protect her young.  Can I be selfish and say I don't wanna?  Hey, bugs!  Look at my delicious kids!  Or at least my crotchety husband. Just give me one night to myself.

We left Bimini a couple of days ago, and my first thought was, "Hooray!  Back to Florida, pollution and no more bugs!"  But what do we have at the marina here?



Thursday, February 3, 2011

Happy Snow Day!

I hear from those of you in southern Ontario and beyond that today is a snow day.  School is canceled, and out come the sleds, skates and skis.  Hooray!

Here on Papillon, life is a little tougher.  (I hope never to declare a Hurricane Day.)  Stylish had to do her journal (an entry on sharks, concerning the shark field lab we visited yesterday), math and reading before we knocked off for the day and went to the beach.  But, behold!  Even the seashore is edumacational!

Motor skills

Physical Education

Making a volcano
You see?  It's all work, work, work around here.