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Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Raising 2 Kids, 1 Homeschooler & a Baby Blog (#3): A Teaching Moment


The other night, my hand was stuck inside a plastic pumpkin as I raided my kid’s stash of Trick or Treats (is that bad?) when I had a sudden come to candy moment: Why bother homeschooling?

If the kids were in daycare or childcare... hmmm, I’d have more time to work or complete checklists without having to worry about snacks, drinks, diapers and toys (oh, the toys! The toys!) that I lug along with me on a daily basis. Hmmm...

The day started off OK. My plan was in place, and I was motivated to get a few errands done, so I could get home, give Corey (twenty months) his nap and head to school with Tobey, our four-year-old.

And, then a pair of crocs went missing…
Source: Crocs.com

The missing shoes were later found in the bathroom (of course) and we were only about ten minutes behind schedule.

OK, not too bad, I suppose…

Loaded with the right amount crocs (four) in my hands, a diaper bag on my back, the snack bag hanging off a pinkie and two bottles of water slung low in the side pockets of my khakis like I was the Sheriff of Water City, USA, I opened the side door to the minivan.

Unloading stuff in the usual spots (where it would stay for about five seconds before being chucked, eaten or drank,) I hear the cheerful voice of the GPS goddess announcing that I “was still on the fastest route, and your estimated arrival time is 10:10.”

I looked around. The van was inside a closed garage and hadn’t moved in like a day, but poor goddess, she didn’t know that. I just always appreciate her positive attitude.

(I have this weird thing about setting my GPS up an hour or two in advance. This allows me to run into the dark garage (multiple times) and see (or hear) what time I have to leave…)

Opening the garage door, I turned the engine, gathered the troops and locked the boys into place.

“Where are we going, Papa?”

“We have to go see a few car doctors – the red van is sick.”

“What happened?

“The door in the back was hit by someone. We have to go ask the doctors how much it will cost to fix.”

A pause, while said news is digested….


“Yes, Tobey?”

“Can I have the black telephone so I can play ‘Angry Birds?’ Please, Papa.”

Following the GPS goddess into a nearby town, I couldn’t find the exact address, but found two body shops opposite each other.

OK, cool, I need at least two estimates, so I can take care of this in one go.

Not knowing what to expect, and how long I’d be waiting, I loaded the two-boy stroller with snacks, drinks and enough diaper cream to last until Corey’s wedding reception.

“Expedition Estimate Finder” headed to its first destination. I opened the door slowly and pushed (and pushed) the stroller over a previously unseen doorstep (causing minor whiplash symptoms to at least one child.)

After my warm welcome, I was informed that I had to pay $100 and come back when I had an appointment.


This was followed by a sigh as I looked down at the expedition members, our enormous load of provisions, and then back at the receptionist. She glared back at me with the narrowed eyes of a non-parent – upset by the increase of noise in her quiet, restful waiting area.

I was back on the streets of Hawaii 5-0 in less than 6-0 seconds.

We crossed the road to the busier looking competition where surprisingly the estimate cost only $25 and they did accept walk-ins and expedition leaders.

Looking around their waiting room, I noticed two things: it was very small, and they had a bunch of handmade Halloween decorations waiting to be judged.

My destructive duo were already reaching for a paper Mache bloody hand and a matchstick-made haunted castle…

We waited outside.

For a minute or two.

And then the storm began.

The expedition’s snacks were quickly doled out as the boys had fun in the third row seats, while I scuttled around practicing my best drowned-rat-in-an-aloha-shirt impersonation.

After procuring two more estimates, including one at Tony Group Body Shop where Sabrina Dela Rama took pity on me and waived the $25 fee, we made it home.

The Letter Of The Day
Corey (and his nose, which was running more than the guy who won the Boston Marathon) fell asleep, so Tobey and I headed to the spare bedroom (aka the school,) where we had a few struggles on letter-writing, a few difficulties with some new words, and a lot of mess with this new finger painting stuff he has.

Mentally fatigued, (me, not him) we finished an hour later, and with The Runny Man sleeping, I grabbed the “pumpkin” bucket of candy and blew a big sigh as Tobey lagged behind me.

“C’mon, bud, let’s go downstairs,” I whined, “don't you want to watch the ‘Little Einsteins’ or something?”

“Papa. Hang on. Wait, I have to say goodbye,” said Tobey, standing in the doorway.

I looked into the room – it was empty. There weren’t even any red monsters waiting for tickles or bears with yellow tummies full of honey.

“C’mon son, let’s go.” I grabbed another candy, wondering why I bothered.

“Papa, I have to say goodbye, wait.”

And, then, my four-year-old son turned and waved goodbye to his school room, adding a happy “See you tomorrow, school” before leaving a big “Mwah!” kiss behind as he closed the door.

Passing me with a big smile, he headed downstairs with no worries, while the sound of his kiss, still ringing in my head, made me feel better than I’d felt all day.

I stood there for another thirty seconds, eating a dark piece of chocolate and chewing on the fact that I’d been taught an important lesson.

Wow, this homeschooling thing rocks.


Sarah Tokeley said...

It's official. It's 7:25 am and this post has made my day :-)

Mark Koopmans said...

Aloha Sarah,

Mahalo, and I really appreciate your leaving such a nice comment. It's 10:29 p.m. over here, and now my day ends on a high note:)

Kitty said...

Wow, more power to you, Mark! That's quite a daily load. I should know, because I was a stay-at-home mom for years. Although I didn't homeschool, my children were severely asthmatic at a time when relatively little was known about treating pediatric asthma. I was constantly busy trying to keep my kids well.

My Uncle Henry lived in Hawaii. He moved there after WWII because he absolutely hated our Upstate NY winter weather. He lived on Kaopua Loop in Mililani. He said when the mercury dipped below 70*, they put on their woolies. He died in 2003 at the age of 91.

You've got a nice little blog.

Ruth Schiffmann said...

As a mom who homeschooled two daughters kindergarten through high school, I can relate. Physically and mentally exhausting - absolutely. But it's an amazing, wouldn't-trade-it-for-anything-in-the-world, experience. Enjoy every minute!!

Mark Koopmans said...

Aloha Ruth,

So nice to hear from someone who's traveled the road before me! Yes, the journey will be long, but each step is interesting.
Mahalo for your comments - and follow - and I'm looking forward to reading about the shy writer who went social:)

Unknown said...

Hi, Mark! I found you via the Dojo and stumbled across this post and could not stop giggling. I love your writing, and am adding you to my Monday morning reads ;)
I'm a stay at home mom and have been struggling to teach homeschool my 4 year old. It's such a pleasure to be able to teach my children myself, instead of having them in daycare.
I loved the little bit about the sudden Hawaiian rain storm. I was stationed in Hawaii 5 years ago. I also remember how terrible some of the drivers were there ;)
I look forward to future posts!

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