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Learning is for Life


Somewhere in the midst of homeschooling Rinn, my own attempt at an education commenced and I started my Junior year at Missouri State University. Yes, I hold down a full-time job. Yes, I teach dance on the side. Yes, I have committed thirty hours a week to giving Rinn what I hope to be a personal and comprehensive education. Yes, I now carry 12 credits while I pursue a degree in technical writing with an emphasis on communication.

But no, I don’t own one of those time turner necklaces that Hermoine wears in the third Harry Potter book. Lord knows I wish I did; there really aren’t enough hours in the day for all of the things I desire to do with my life. So if anyone out there has successfully managed to manipulate time and space, I’m all ears. In the meantime, take a seat Hermoine, I got this. Someone do me a favor and remind me of this display of pompous self-confidence towards the end of the semester when I’m amidst an epic tantrum of WHY DID I DO THIS TO MYSELF? and my assignments are more than perfunctory discussion board posts and reading quizzes. I’ll need all the “you’re a badass” reminders I can get.

Essentially my day consists of waking up before the sun and drinking coffee while I catch up on Social Media, read my horoscope and watch Good Morning America. Soon after, Rinn wakes up, there’s breakfast and then we take Tui for a long walk because Rinn and Tui are young, energetic and if I’m being frank, full of piss and vinegar. If they’re physically exhausted it’s much easier to get them both to sit quietly as I attempt to explain that while making up words to rhyme with “boat” might make you a great rapper someday, it’s best we familiarize ourselves with a more common vocabulary first, like “coat” or “goat”. If you’re takeaway from this is that putting your kids and pets on the treadmill first thing in the morning will make you’re life easier, and quieter, well, I can’t object.

Then everyone gets to work. Except the dog, he lays down for a nap. Someday, when I learn to say NO to myself I’m going to live my life according to Tui: eat, wander around awhile, get my back scratched, nap, repeat.

A majority of Rinn’s lessons involve some type of independent work, whether it be on the computer, a coloring page or cutting out shapes from a workbook for the 18th time that week. These average about twenty-or-so minutes per lesson; much less if he has scissors because 5-year-olds with scissors are not to be trusted or left unattended for any period of time as someone usually ends up with a haircut and that someone is usually Tui. It’s during this time however that I complete my own assignments. Note to self: put "How To Do Anything in Twenty Minutes Or Less" on my list of books to write, right after my memoirs, the porn script and children’s books.

One of our recent language lessons included learning job words: fireman, policeman, doctor, the all too typical, and often sexist, careers that come with learning about work at the kindergarten level. When I told Rinn his next assignment was to finish the sentence “When I grow up, I want to be a _____” and then draw a picture of himself doing that job I experienced mild anxiety. Mostly because I’m 33 and I still don’t know what I want to be when I grow up and a little because I didn’t want him to say “a velociraptor!” and then have another argument about why he can’t actually be a dinosaur.

We avoided an argument because he responded: “a guy who works on boats at the marina like Kateryna’s dad.” Kateryna being one of his best friends from preschool and her dad being a guy whose occupation has some magical hold over Rinn and his ambitions. Either way I’m supportive, especially if it means we get free pontoon rentals. He got to work drawing his picture and I started skimming my “Technical Communications” textbook. I was trying not to fall asleep because anything with the word technical in its title is the adult version of a lullabye when Rinn announced he was done and was taking his five minute break. This break is part of our ritual between lessons: (1) it gets Rinn away from his desk so that he can stretch his legs and (2) it gets Rinn away from his desk so that he isn’t following him around like a second shadow as I get the next lesson ready.

Me: “Hold up, you have to put your crayons away first.”

Rinn: Audible moaning while collapsing on the floor because putting your crayons away at this age is apparently comparable to an adult opening a bill from their custody attorney while they wonder what choices they made in life that prevented them from making $100 for making a phone call and writing a letter.

He eventually started putting his crayons away after I made some empty threats about doing an extra Phonics lesson if he didn’t do as he was told. An extra Phonics lesson would be torture for us both, there is no way in hell that was happening. I might be mean but I’m not crazy.

Things are quiet for a minute, then suddenly crayons are flying from the desk.

Rinn: “THESE CRAYONS AREN’T YISTENING TO ME! THEY’RE NOT GOING IN THE BOX!”

Me: “Let’s practice our patience. Putting crayons away is kind of like a puzzle. Also, crayons can’t actually hear or listen so if you’re attempting to use mind control then you’ll have to try another method.”

Rinn: “MOM! YOU’RE STILL IN SCHOOL SO YOU DON’T KNOW ANYTHING ANYWAY. I’M SMARTER THAN YOU!”

Ouch. Also, OH HELL NO!

Against my better judgement I went into a tirade about how when it comes to him I am the end-all, be-all of knowing stuff and that if he thinks otherwise WE CAN DO AAAALLLLL THE PHONICS FORRRREEVVVEEERRRR, PHONICS TILL THE END OF TIME! Care to test me? I’ll show up on your first date and we will do phonics. Want to go to college? They better have room for 2 in your dorm because I will be there, making you do phonics. Think you’re getting married someday? Oh I’ll be there too but instead of the typical mother-son dance we will sit down and do phonics.

Are you comfortable with the scariest version of yourself? You’re ready to be a parent. Give it a whirl.

I regained my composure and instead explained that simply because someone is still in school it doesn’t mean that they don’t know anything. I explained to him that learning is a lifelong process and that I’m in school because I want to know more, because I actually enjoy learning and that there is no endgame with knowledge. I explained that at the end of kindergarten he won’t know everything and at the end of twelve years of compulsory schooling he still won’t know everything and even when he earns his college degree if that’s what he so chooses, again he still won’t know everything. I explained to him that the world is constantly changing through ideas, discoverie, innovations and inventions and that there will always be more to learn, that he will learn new things everyday for the rest of his life if he remains open-minded and humble with his intelligence.

He stared at me for a minute and then said “Ok Mom but I want to know EVERYTHING!”

Me: “Great, let’s start by learning how to put your crayons away.”

Parenting is fun.


Disclaimer: We put the crayons away in their box for about two weeks. While this was a great lesson in cleaning up after yourself and patience it took entirely too much time, time we simply do not have. With these adorable dinosaur containers I found at TJ Maxx (only 4.99) I not only put an end to the crayon chaos but made one little boy VERY happy.


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