Thursday, August 16, 2012

Okay. Home schooling is going somewhat better than the last time I updated. Somehow my mother managed to convince Munchkin that if she kept whining her mummy would eventually lose it and decamp for Mexico, or something. I don't know. There's less whining. I'm happy.

Also, I feel that we're over the hump because we're past page 100 of Hay-Wingo. It's 120 pages. She reads words, such as "decide" and "Jupiter" and "papoose." Also "squaw." That one is maybe not ideal. I recognise that it can't be all that easy to think of words to demonstrate a certain vowel sound, but surely "squaw" should not make the cut if "straw" does not. It's still better than Webster's Speller ("smut," "slut," etc.).

I do not like reading home schooling blogs. The mothers are always doing crafts. Really horrible crafts, like paper mache. I don't even like paste. We don't even _own_ paste!

In fact, home schooling blogs seem to fall into three broad groups:
1. People who do lots of projects and crafts and crafts and projects and probably use Pinterest a lot.
2. People who live charmingly picturesque lives, unschool, and post pictures of their children with perfect lighting gathering eggs and learning About Life before they all gather together around the fire to listen to Charlotte's Web.
3. People who are home schooling because of religious (generally) or philosophical (less common) reasons but are completely overwhelmed. Anyone else would have cried uncle, but since their primary purpose is to avoid institutional schooling, these bloggers instead justify that their kids are at least not getting shot, and they're sure they're learning many important things somewhere in-between the thousands of crises affecting the family.

I never do crafts. We don't own chickens, and if we did, my children would be less likely to lovingly gather their eggs than to chase them around until they caught one and then try to kiss it. That only leaves the unenviable #3 category, except I'm not _that_ religious or principled.

Friday, August 10, 2012

Clever Children

Tonight I determined that either Munchkin and I can finish working through the Hay Wingo Primer by the end of this month, or one or the other of us is going to need to relocate to the Arctic Circle. I'm flexible on the options, really. I'll even volunteer to be the one to relocate. It looks quiet up there.

I read an article that said that parents must not tell their children that their children are so terribly smart, as this makes the children insecure and thus depresses the children's performance. It is fortunate that I am rarely spurred to tell my children how clever they are when we are doing school work. In fact, my most-said phrases do not concern cleverness at all:
  1. If you don't do this page properly, we'll go back and review and this entire episode will take longer.
  2. Yes, of course you have to do it. In your entire life, I have never told you to do something that you do not have to do. Why would this be the first time?
  3.  If you hadn't spent so much time whining, you'd be done by now.
Oh, life with me is such fun.

Today, Munchkin practiced page 83 (adding -ing), 87 (r-controlled verbs), and 89 (adding -er). Then, I put everyone to bed. Then, I threw up. 

I also looked up other copies of the Hay Wingo Primer. The 1954 edition has a frightening clown on the cover. I am envious. I have two copies and a teacher's edition, and the cover is just maroon.

When I was in school, we were using the Ginn 720 Basal Readers. I kind of want a copy of a few of these, but I think they might bring back trauma. Later I learned that I am a poor speller because of these readers. My mother would object, and say that any child who in second grade is still spelling "of," "uv" is a congenitally poor speller. I prefer to blame the Ginn 720s. They were awful and deserve disrepute.

The Ginn 720s were published in the late seventies and early eighties (and thus quite out of date by the time I attended school). I have no idea why children reading in 1990 were using a reader published in 1976. Yes, I'm teaching my daughter with a primer published for the first time in 1948 and reprinted in 1967. But in my defence, basal readers and primers produced before 1948 were often pretty good. They were generally collections of actual stories, the type someone might read for their own interest. By 1976, the field was pretty much a wasteland. If anything in Helicopters and Gingerbread was an actual story marketed at actual readers, then both the readers and the writer should be summarily shot. The only excuse for stories so poor is the misplaced notion that they might be in some way educational.

The Ginn 720s were not nearly cool enough to feature a freaky, nightmare-inducing clown on the cover.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Irresponsible People

Yesterday, I had to go to the bank. The reason why is not important. I ended up taking Firefly (2). As I took him out of his car seat, he said, "pee, pee!" and wet himself. He's honest if nothing else.

I'm not about to carry around a stinking toddler, and I didn't have a spare pair of pants. I hauled out my umbrella stroller. You need to visualise this stroller. Do you remember those really cheap fold-down ones we had in the eighties, the kind that, folded up, would make a medium-weight weapon with which to beat an intruder? They are hard to find now, owing to almost certainly being a death trap. I got this particular umbrella stroller for $9, in the Rite Aid, in the United States, six years ago. I'm not sure what its market value now would be. Negative, probably. It is so Un-Parents-Magazine-approved that I'm pretty sure it's made entirely of asbestos held together with arsenic assembled by Chinese slave-babies. It lives in my car, takes up almost no space, and enables me to transport a two-year-old without touching him.

He also didn't have shoes. Also, we don't cut our boys' hair before their third birthday. Because Firefly's hair is very curly and a bit orange, it's at a length that says less "I have long hair" and more "I desperately need a haircut but I smoked a joint instead." Also, he insists on wearing his brother's old clothing. His clothes look like the stuff that the Salvation Army turns down. And he had no shoes on. And his feet were really dirty.

As I pushed him along, he was in fine spirits. It was a hot day, and our movement created a breeze. The wet shorts were pleasantly cooled. He waved jauntily to the passersby, the well-kept babies in their safety-rated strollers, coordinated outfits, and accessories. Hello! How are you! The babies stared.

The mothers stared too, but they looked mostly at me. I have just become Visibly Pregnant. I look young, even when I'm not pushing along a filthy toddler in death-stroller. I knew what they were thinking.

"It's always the irresponsible people who have a pile of kids."