Sunday, August 26, 2007

When You Finally Want To Run Screaming Into The Night

...you manage to catch the Banshees' illness and are too headachey/feverish/itchy-eyeballed to go. But no one ever said that life was fair.

I did manage to fix the tea cooler (a modified 5 gallon igloo). With no working ac and 107+ temps we go through a lot of liquid around here. I could fix the ac if the relative who understand ac was standing over my shoulder but he isn't available, and even I know when to throw my hands up and call in a repairman. Except that the dh and I have already decided that the ac unit needs to be replaced and that isn't going to happen until next summer. And that brings us to the bad news/good news portion of the program: the ac isn't working -- but the electric bills are the lowest they've been in the better part of a decade.

The Banshees, by the way, are a bit disappointed that Mom isn't going up on the roof again. My reputation has taken a bit of a hit. I'm making that up to them by repairing the toilet.

The books that we bought at the conference are batting .500 -- LB's book has disappeared into the ether and we haven't broken out the How to Read book yet, but MB's anatomy book and EB's origami book are great hits. In fact, I had to put a moritorium on paper penguins and pianos. So far the biggest spash has been the anatomy coloring book, which MB thoughtfully took to a recent family gathering. While he was there he curled up with a great-grandfather and they went through it together, with MB pointing out his favorite bits. Great-grandfather was impressed all out of proportion, which is understandable since you really have to live with the Banshee's to have the proper perspective. GGF saw all of the fancy words and advanced concepts; MB sees it as a really neat coloring book.

That was a family gathering of disconcertion. GGF asked me what grade-level the anatomy book would be considered. I'm not sure that has a definitive answer. Most people would probably consider it high school or even college level. However, it belongs to my would-have-been-second grader so in our house, it's a second-grade textbook. Great-grandmother wanted to know what grade level the Banshees were. I gave that my best thoughtful look and said that it was an impossible question to answer. There's grade-level according to age, there's grade-level according to learning, and there's grade-level according to school districts. The best answer I can give is that they are way ahead of themselves in reading speed and comprehension, and even better than that, they love to read. They won't write unless forced to or if it's a current correspondence with a friend or favorite relative. Math is very much catch as catch can at this age and can be anywhere from simple addition to the explanation of credit cards and income tax. History and science and politics creep in wherever and whenever there's a niche to put them. "And spelling?" she asked. "Are you teaching them spelling? Because schools aren't teaching spelling these days." Yes they are, actually. I know that because EB's ex-teacher gave me the homework assignment of teaching spelling to EB. It's one of the reasons we're homeschooling now, under the theory of cutting out the middleman. (Or, as my beloved spouse said at the time, "If the teacher is expecting you to do her entire job, we might as well bring the children home.) But no, I don't teach them formal spelling right now. That will probably come later when they get more into writing. GGM looked faintly shocked.

This is the sort of thing that is going to get me the reputation of being the family bore. Creating a common lexicon takes time and most people don't understand why they can't just be answered in public school terms. With a little time and practice I'll be able to tell when they're genuinely interested and when they're just making polite conversation and trim my information accordingly.

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