I’m feeling terribly neglectful of my blog because I haven’t written a word for several days: I made the mistake of giving myself Friday evening off, due to the fact that I had worked in the afternoon and knew I had long shifts over the weekend to look forward to. The outcome, of course, was that I was too tired to do much of anything when I got in on Saturday and Sunday and so by the time today came around, three days had simply upped and disappeared.
Time. There’s never enough time. When you want to sleep, there are never enough hours available; when you want to get something finished, the day is gone before you can blink; and when you want time off work, there is never enough of it to make it feel like you really had any.
Since removing TK from the school system, more time hasn’t magically become available (wouldn’t that be wondrous?!) but the time we have; to get things done and spend together as a family; is generally more pleasant and relaxed. The days now are organised around activities, household duties, and my work schedule. Before, when my mum was working and TK had to be at school every day for 8:40 (with correct kit) and picked up at 15:20 (unless she had a club, which then had to be remembered), each day was a stressful whirlwind of who was going where and when and with whom. Who was going to do the afternoon school run? Would I be home from work in time for dinner? Was there Cub Scouts tonight? Where was that permission slip? Have you done your homework? Have you asked if anyone has found your PE kit? Is today sandwiches or school dinners? Can you remember to come straight to my work from school? – There’s no one to pick you up and I don’t finish until four.
And so it still goes on: All over the country, working families start their days with shouting and tears. Highly strung parents struggle to get out of the door, while equally stressed children panic over lost assignments, forgotten trainers, and being late. I am so very thankful that I am no longer among them!
Today we got up slowly, had some breakfast and conducted a taste test on various milks and milk alternatives. I was delighted to discover hemp milk which is similar to soy based drinks but far better for the environment. My mum liked it too but out of rice, soy, almond, hemp, and low lactose cow’s milk, TK decided the cow’s milk was the only one she would drink.
Over breakfast we talked about how the milks were made and a little bit about the environmental impact of the various crops. TK insisted there is a cow out there that produces milk that doesn’t have to be sterilised before bottling. I said “yes – all of them” which she thought was silly: She lives in a world where everything is heated, processed, tested, bleached and given a date by which we must use it (or else). The idea that something might just be gathered and consumed was, sadly, an alien one. It transpired that what she was referring to was the development of genitally modified cows that produced low-lactose milk; an idea that I personally find horrifying. Tomorrow’s breakfast discussion may touch on the ethics of animal welfare in farming!
In terms of formal learning, TK has been working her way through maths problems like a trouper. After realising how much was missing from her basic comprehension of mathematical concepts, I decided to go right back to the beginning. We have been following the MEP Primary Maths system and when I discovered how much of a struggle the level 5 and 6 workbooks were, I decided that we would start with book 2 and just keep going. A lot of the work in the current book is very easy for TK, but as she works through it I am putting right any bad habits or misunderstandings, so that she can work towards the higher level books with confidence. She is getting through them pretty quickly, so I think that by the summer she will be back ‘on track’ with where she is ‘supposed to be’.
I’m still trying to get a handle on organisation with regards to TK’s study space and work. After maths today we hung out in my room and listened to the end of our audio book, A Hat Full of Sky by Terry Pratchett. The narrator, Stephen Briggs, is my favourite for Pratchett books and TK has really been enjoying listening too. While we laughed at the story, TK coloured some subject folder front covers while I set to work filing the huge amount of paperwork I have managed to accumulate. To be fair, I would guess that about 50% of it is mine alone: bills, documents, keepsakes, and old university work. The other half is the new stuff: worksheets, interesting history resources, printed maths books, and TK’s work itself. The filing took so long that we ended up starting the next book in the Discworld© series, Going Postal.
After dinner, I wanted TK to begin a book review of A Hat Full of Sky but I was having real difficulty motivating her. I suggested, losing hope, that I could download the book for her on to her tablet so that she could refresh her memory. To be honest, I was convinced that she would turn her nose up at this offer because she hasn’t voluntarily picked up a work of fiction in a very long time (hence the wonder of audio). To my surprise, she not only said she would like that and promised to read it: She then got all excited about the fact the ‘pages’ on her tablet “really look like they are turning!”
‘Unlike in books, where they actually do‘, I thought. But I didn’t say a word – I didn’t want to break the spell.
She spent most of the rest of the evening reading and telling me about the funny parts, looking up words she didn’t understand using the in-book dictionary. I couldn’t believe it. There was a short break in between sessions for a look at her Minecraft world but she stayed up reading until almost ten because I couldn’t bring myself to tell her she had to stop. I have my fingers crossed that this is the breakthrough I have been hoping for!