It was just a really good day.
It wasn’t perfect, or magical. Nothing big happened, no big trips or experiences. No one’s behavior was stellar, and I lost my temper once or twice. But. There were moments. Moments of bliss, of slow motion and time-is-frozen-just-for-right-now and I caught a glimpse of this tender little world I live in.
My mind wandered all day, thinking about my two precious littles and the people they are becoming. I thought of how comical it must be to the world, and to anyone who knew me a few years back, that I am a homeschool parent. And yet nothing has felt so natural as to spend my minutes with these two small people.
We read our current events magazine over breakfast and I watched Daniel light up at idea of a 9-year-old California boy setting out to hike the tallest mountain on each continent. I listened to Violet crack herself up with her “spooooooky” voice when we read about modern day ghost towns. We ate together, making our plans for the day by contributing what we’d each like to do and then arranging it with a little construction paper and a glue stick. They love the spontaneity of deciding at breakfast what we’re going to do, but they also crave the structure of knowing what’s next. I think we’re finally striking the right balance of the two.
I will never take for granted that my kids love the library. They race through the doors, heading to their favorite sections. Violet plays with puzzles, types on the computers (no kids’ games – only word document with colored font!) and Daniel bee-lines for the juvenile non-fiction. Today he immediately found a dinosaur book and sat down in the aisle, unable to wait even a minute to dive in. Violet and I crawled around the picture book shelves, randomly picking fun ones. Another little girl joined in the fun and the three of us sat together where we were, on the floor, reading through two Angelinas and a half dozen other books.
We loaded up the books, unloaded the bikes and off they flew. Around the sidewalks of the park, tumbling once or twice. Daniel tends to get nervous after a fall, like I always have, proceeding with greater caution. But Violet is tough; resilient. She hops back up and continues as if she never crashed. It amazes me how much biking shows about their personalities.
They park the bikes for some play time at the park. When did he learn to fly across the monkey bars by himself? And Violet pumping herself on the swing… I am grateful that although they no longer need my help at the park, they still ask for my presence. They also ask for the snacks they know I have in my bag. No one complains about the trail mix even though the chocolate pieces have melted (“Mommy, it’s GOOD that it’s sticky now. The little pieces will stick with the big pieces. Don’t worry.”) Then it’s back on the bike for a lap around the duck pond. Near the end, the sprinklers turn on and suddenly the air is full of Violet’s joy. Getting wet AND riding bikes: a combination she didn’t realize was possible (but that she immediately loved). Daniel wasn’t sure at first, but he came around quickly. We made our way through the rainbows back to the van and I swear I must have whispered a hundred thank you’s to God for those minutes. The laughter, the gleeful giggles and squeals, the sprinkles on my skin, the smell of water on the grass and spring in the desert.
They ate lunch while watching a Salsa episode, and tried out new Spanish words in between bites of tunafish. (“Habia una vez un tren pequenito…”) Inspired by the plot line of the three bandit’s pursuit of the train carrying the ice cream, we improvised our own ice cream recipe (yogurt + banana + frozen berries) and set it in the freezer for later.
I chopped vegetables while they did their math/reading/writing practices. I enjoy my post in the kitchen – my default place. I can keep an eye on the whole house, guide the kids in their projects and cut/slice/chop/prepare our next meal. For a multi-tasker at heart, it’s a happy place to be. We inevitably end up in discussions about food, which I love. I want them to be comfortable with food – to know it, to understand nutrition, to be adventurous and to have a healthy relationship with eating.
We cleaned the fish tank, folded a few loads of laundry… just worked together as a team. We rested outside in the sun, the kids eating their ice cream creations and I finished reading the last few chapters of Mr. Popper’s Penguins to them. In the middle of the bliss of a cold treat in the hot sun set to a chapter book, Violet sighed happily and said, “and THIS wasn’t even on the schedule!” Looking back over the first two years of homeschooling, chapter books stand out as an unexpected joy. I knew it was fun to read out loud and be read to… but the worlds we enter together! The bonding that happens! The characters that become a part of our daily life. It has been more than I ever expected.
Africa month is being good to us. There is just so much to explore, I know we are barely scratching the surface’s surface. We are loving our African mythology book, a constant soundtrack of African music in the background, fairy tales from Africa or set to African art, and today, we enjoyed a fabulous book narrated by a boy from Ghana about his everyday life.
The sun started to set and we squeezed in a little more fun. A few more new books over dinner, another fast bike ride a few times around the block. The city smells like flowers, just like every Spring. As I watched Daniel speed ahead and round the corners, out of eye shot, I am reminded of his need for expanding borders – he craves (and has earned) more independence. It shows up in a thousand small ways every day – Taking a different aisle in the grocery store so he can meet me on the other side. Solo trips to the men’s bathroom when we’re out and about. Running ahead on the trail to hike alone for a while. Freedom to roam within ever expanding parameters. Small, but added up, they equal something significant: He is growing up.
Before bed, we played together. First, a few puzzles – those old dinosaur 4 then the glow in the dark animal one – followed by a few rounds of mancala. We gathered at the table, just BEING together. I read a bit, Daniel colored inventions like a mad scientist, Violet spent a good 30 minutes making two puzzle pieces have a conversation. Everyone within arm’s distance of each other. Comfortable, warm, close.
Bedtime came soon enough, and after a few more African myths, we wasted no time launching into our next chapter book: Gooney Bird Greene. At least once, the kids were laughing so hard they couldn’t catch their breath, which of course made me lose it too. A cozy night, with a cozy tuck-in. My precious littles, warm in their beds.
It was just a really good day.