Saturday, March 7, 2015

Explosions and Chopping My Hair Off, All in a Day's Work

Yesterday, I lost it.

We are talking full-on, champagne bottle that had been shaken for weeks and finally exploded lost it.

So I did what any woman who fully lost it does- I went and cut all my hair off.

Yeah, I'm getting ahead of myself. Let's head back to the scene of the crime beginning.

Yesterday morning started like any other morning. The kids got up, ate breakfast and then around 9-ish, they start their homeschooling. They start out with math, because, let's face it- most people hate math, so if they get it out of the way first thing in the morning, their day can only get better, right? (For the record, I love math. I have this annoying quirk where, if numbers are thrown at me in an equation-like way, I have to compute them. A simple question, standing in the grocery store, like, "Hey, is it better to get the 30 count for $5 or the 72 count for $9?" immediately makes my brain start working to figure out the problem. It gets annoying sometimes.) Both of the kids were on word problem lessons, which compounded their hate of math even more.

I usually work while the kids are on the computer, doing their lessons. So, I headed into the front room to organize my work day and figure out what orders needed to go out. I had barely even walked into the front room (25 feet from the kids), when I heard the first, "Hey, mom...".

I love my kids, I do. I love that they need my help. But I find it very hard to believe they need my help 2.5 seconds after I leave the room, when they've clearly been given directions on what they need
to do.

The Ginger was the first to ask for my attention, then as I walked out of the room, The Girl piped up with "Hey, mom..." 

I had checked their lessons for that day. It was Friday, so I wanted an easy day. I had told them to each do 2 math lessons of skills they had done over the week, as a review and extra practice. Did you read that? Review and extra practice. Yes, they involved word problems, but they had already learned the skills needed to complete the word problems, so I figured it wouldn't be so hard on them. When The Girl uttered her "Hey, mom..." my skin started to itch.

35 minutes later, I had yet to set foot into the front room to start my business work for the day. The kids played ping pong with me, one requesting my help, then as soon as I stood up straight, the other shouted out that they needed help. When I think back about it now, I have to wonder if it wasn't some sick game they were playing.

Each time I walked back and forth between them, my blood boiled even more. They both knew the work they were doing. They just wanted my verification before they submitted an answer.

For whatever reason (I chalk it up now to a prolonged moment of insanity), I allowed this to continue for another 10 minutes, even after realizing that the children did not need my help. The straw started to weigh on the camel's back a bit.

"Whoa, whoa, whoa, okay. I'm going into the front room now. Y'all have been using me for the last 45 minutes. You KNOW this work. I can't stand beside you and hold your hand while you do it. If you understand it, and y'all clearly do, then do the work. If you get it wrong, that's a learning experience, and just continue on with the next problem."

The Ginger was the first to speak up, as I was walking out of the room.

The Ginger: "But I don't get it, Mom." 
Me: "You don't get what?"
The Ginger: "The math. I don't get multiplying fractions by whole numbers."
Me: "You don't get the math that you spent hours yesterday doing, that you could clearly explain to me yesterday and first thing this morning?"
The Ginger: "Yeah. I don't get it."
Me: "You do get it, and you've proven that to me. So, do the word problems and be done with your math."
The Ginger: "I don't get it, and if you think it's so easy, why don't you just come do it for me?"

Straw. Camel. Back. Fractured.

Before I could even utter a retort, The Girl piped up.

The Girl: "GREAT!! I got it WRONG! Now I have to start all over again!
Me: "Well, then start all over again."
The Girl: "If YOU would have just TOLD me if my answer was correct before I hit 'Submit,' then I wouldn't have gotten it wrong, and I wouldn't have to start over now." (Their online math lesson gives them a few practice problems, and if they get them all correct, the program assumes they know that lesson and skips them to the next lesson. If they miss one, they have to continue until they get 5 answers in a row correct.)
Me: "So, are you blaming ME for YOU getting the question wrong?"
The Girl: "I'm just saying that if you had HELPED me, I wouldn't have gotten it WRONG!"

Straw. Camel. Back. Completely Broken.


Me: (to The Ginger) I'm not going to DO your work for you. I passed 4th grade math 23 years ago. So suck it up, buttercup, and do the work. (to The Girl) And YOU, Missy. It is NOT my fault that YOU got a problem wrong. When you get to college, do you think your math professor is going to stand beside you while you do math problems that take 20 minutes and 50 steps to do? NO! They aren't. It's not MY fault that YOU got a problem wrong, and if that means that you have to start over, then I guess you have to start over, don't you? But that's not MY fault, it's YOURS. (general addressing of both kids) The two of you have been USING me for the last- now hour- thanks. Today was SUPPOSED to be easy. It was SUPPOSED to be a review. I don't have a problem with you all asking me for help IF YOU NEED IT! But for the last hour, you haven't NEEDED me. You've wanted me to hold your hands and stand over your shoulders while you hit 'Submit'- now, I'm realizing, so you have someone to BLAME if you get the question wrong. I'm NOT your scapegoat. I'm your mother, and your teacher, and I know damn well neither of you treated the teachers in public school the way you treat me. You didn't expect them to okay every answer before you moved onto the next problem. And I damn well know (looking at The Ginger) that you didn't TELL the teacher to do the work for you, or (looking at The Girl) BLAME a wrong answer on your teacher. I'm DONE!! 

And with that, I stormed upstairs. When I made it to the bedroom, where Hubby was laying in bed, playing on his phone (yes, still that effing Game of War shit), I told him I was done, he could go deal with his children, and I started peeling my clothes off to take a shower. I had mentioned going to get my hair cut, so he looked at me and said, "You going to get your hair done?" I screamed back, YES! and disappeared into the bathroom.

When I left the house, Hubby was having The Ginger explain to him the process of multiplying fractions by whole numbers, which he could do just fine. Figures, right?

Since the middle of December, I've probably had a grand total of about 6 hours to myself- truly to myself, by myself. The kids started winter break from school, and that was it for me and true alone-time. Hubby left for the academy for 6 weeks, the kids started homeschooling, and I started cherishing my 15 minute runs to the post office, alone. Then Hubby came home, and has been on leave for the last 2 1/2 weeks. I've gotten an hour alone, each week for the last 2 weeks, while he took The Girl to her violin lesson (I insisted he took The Ginger, too). That's it. 4 people, a dog and 2 cats (Bones ran away about a week ago and we haven't seen her), around each other 24/7, in a 1600 square foot house...

I'm actually surprised I didn't lose my shit sooner, to be honest. I've kept it together for almost 3 months now. Under these conditions, that's a little shocking.

I drove to the closest hair cut place, which had an hour and a half waiting time. No thanks. I called this salon I've always wanted to go to, and they had an opening. Now I know why- Fifty effing dollars for a haircut. No prices on their website to warn me. I should have known, right? I'm pretty pleased with how it turned out. This morning it looks like a tornado hit the top of my head, but I always forget that about shorter hairstyles; when my hair is long I throw it into a ponytail at night and go to sleep.

When I got back home, a little over an hour after I had left, the kids were "done" with their school for the day (I still haven't gone back and checked if that statement is accurate), and Hubby was getting ready to do a workout session with them. That gave me about another hour to myself to get some orders out the door, bringing my grand total of alone time since mid-December to about 9 hours now.

My emotional breakdown did have a weird side effect that I didn't quite see happening. It gave me new found drive for homeschooling. After I finished my work for the day, I took to the computer for about 2 hours, researching lesson plans and organizing things for the next few weeks for the kids. They both will be starting classics next week (The Girl will start "To Kill a Mockingbird," complete with worksheets, and The Ginger, "From the Mixed Up Files of Mrs.Basil E. Frankweiler," complete with worksheets, quizzes and a project), and I put together a week-long nutrition lesson for them. We have a field trip to wetlands coming up with the homeschooling group we are a part of, so I scheduled in a study of the wetlands ecosystem a week prior to the field trip, and an environment lesson a week prior to our field trip to the waste water treatment facility. I'm hoping a clear, concise plan will help eliminate (or lessen, at least) breakdowns for me and the kids in the future.

Today, I'm feeling much better. I'm good with my haircut, I'm good with the decision to keep homeschooling, I'm good. Everyone in the house is starting to wake up now, though, so we'll see how the rest of the day pans out. Fingers crossed, it's better than yesterday. I'm not even sure I have anything left in me to explode again.

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  1. I am surprised you have any hair left, that you haven't pulled it all out! LOL! Your patience level is astoundingly high, I bow down to you! Man, I get 9 hours alone on Monday...I love Monday's. I love my family, but boy do I love Monday! Hopefully soon you will get more time. I soak in the tub with candles every night, for an hour, alone. Well, for most of that time, usually 1 or 2 interruptions. Everyone likes to talk to mom when she is in the tub...naked of course. Maybe you need a nightly soak, with the door locked!

  2. You are rocking the homeschool thing, and your hair is FABULOUS! We all have to "lose it" once in awhile before our families really know just how much we are doing and how much pressure we are under. I'm glad you're able to see clearly again, and feeling motivated.