I am writing this while sitting on the edge of my chair, because I made the mistake of thinking that I could expose my skin to sunlight without incurring immediate and painful consequences. How easily I forget that my genes were expecting that I would spend most of my life shivering in a bog in the rain. Instead of confining myself to shadowy, air conditioned buildings where I rightfully belong, I do things like sign the kids up for a month of four-day-a-week swim lessons at an outdoor pool in the middle of the day. Then that part of my subconscious that secretly hates me kicks in (the one that told me to get the expensive toy set for Christmas that contains about 300 delicate pieces that all must be in place for the thing to work), and it says, “Hey, why don’t you throw on your swimsuit and join them?” Long story short, the people at the pool end up wondering which circus lost its albino, and I end up walking around the house like a red Frankenstein, lurching around with the most primitive movements lest it feel like my clothes are ripping away my skin.
Every time I go out of doors, I am reminded of the words of fellow Irish American Conan O’Brien, who described my life with eerie accuracy on that old show Dr. Katz (excuse the poor video quality and just focus on the wisdom of what the man says):
If I sounded like I was in a bad mood there in #1, I assure you I’m not. I’m merely worn down by the abject toil involved with getting from Point A to Point B after swim lessons. Point A is when I pull into the garage with five overtired kids, all of them wearing swimsuits that come with that patented technology that makes them impossible to remove when wet. Point B is when each of the children is in dry clothes; all nine swimsuit pieces are hanging out to dry (my son’s plus each part of the girls’ two-piece outfits); each child has been fed a custom-prepared meal that he or she will actually eat, with accompanying drink fixed precisely to his or her specification; the kitchen has been straightened up; pillows and blankets have been brought into the living room for the toddlers’ quiet time; and the baby has a diaper change and is put down for her afternoon nap. The kids are always exhausted after lessons so there is usually at least one person screaming through all of this, and it all needs to happen within about 20 minutes.
The other day I was swooning over this post about how to have a super organized garage sale. The custom-printed tags! The themed design! The cleverly arranged categories! On a wave of naive inspiration I sent it along to Joe. I suppose I knew better than to expect that he would reply with urgent questions about whether we should use the same pink-and-yellow-striped border for our signs or go with a different color palette, but this was his response:
Wouldn’t you make more money in less time if you just gave all your stuff away and got a job for a few days?
It must be a sad, sad existence to be an economics major.
The other morning was having one of those days where about 843 things went wrong before 9 AM, the 844th being that our Keurig broke. Instead of the rich, velvety coffee I expected, I got some steam and a hissy screaming sound instead (the latter coming from me). I threw all the kids in the car to go to Starbucks, which I can’t really afford and should probably be boycotting for reasons I could not then recall, but it was the only coffee place within 15 miles that has a drive-thru, so off we went. As soon as we pulled up to the ordering window the kids began requesting strawberries and cream smoothies with the same restraint and aplomb that a man about to die of thirst in the desert might request the glass of ice water you were dangling in front of him, and, long story short, I ended up ordering more beverages that I can’t afford. I glanced at my wallet and was bummed to realize that this was the last of my cash for a couple of weeks, but decided that it was worth it since we’d all had a hard morning.
I pulled up to the window, got our drinks, grabbed my wallet…and the barista told me that the car in front of us had picked up our order. I looked up to see a SUV at the exit. The driver waved briefly, and then turned on to the highway. I have no idea who this person was, or why he or she did it. But I’ll never forget that moment, and will always be thankful for the anonymous person in the white SUV, who showed me a random act of kindness just when I needed it.
With the school year about to start, I need some good homeschool inspiration books. Any suggestions? To help you tailor your recommendations:
- I’m hoping to find something that addresses big-picture topics like “What is the highest purpose of education?” and “How can we best inspire our children to have a love of learning?”
- There are noooo worries about the Fulwilers being too rigid with their schooling, so I think I need some encouragement on the pro-structure side of things, rather than pro-unschooling books.
- I haven’t read The Well Trained Mind, so I guess I should just read that, right?
What are you up to this weekend? I always love getting a glimpse into how others spend their down time. Hope you have a great time, whatever you do!