Today’s post originally started on a humorous note~ the girls were driving me crazy and it was fodder for my writing. Consider yourself warned~ it will end on a more serious note, with me realizing that, although I was able to find the humor in the adventure that is our life, sometimes, reality does intrude. The point was to be: one homebound eighth grader + one sick sixth grader= one mom ready to pull her hair out. I started writing at 8:30 this morning. It is now 6:30 in the evening. When I called this morning to inform the attendance clerk that Jess would not be at school, I noted that I was starting to twitch, with the girls having only been awake for 36 minutes. I made that comment because the entire 36 minutes had been spent with me as mediator to their arguing. I am used to mediating, today’s was easy~ Courtney could play on the Wii for 30 minutes, Jess could play on the Wii for 30 minutes. The rest was just the usual sister getting on sister’s nerves, speaking it aloud. It made me twitch. I hope you understand; when all is said and done, I said exactly what I wanted to say when I started this post~ it just didn’t come out quite the way I thought it might. That being said, my opening line was perfect and I feel I must share a bit of humor… I love my children. Truly, I could not possibly love them more. With that qualifier, I beg of you, make them go away!
And now begins the journey that brought me to edit my opening…
During the summer months, I don’t mind the girls being home all the time. I get tired of the fussing and fighting, but for the most part, I am free to go about my daily life, leaving them to argue or do whatever it is they do when they are getting along. I sometimes step in as mediator, judge, jury, or ring master, and then go back to doing whatever it is I need to do. Unfortunately, school is in session, Courtney is still homebound with lots of work to do, and Jessica is home sick. This is day three. Jess is feeling better. Fever gone. Unfortunately, the fever was not gone soon enough for her to go to school today.
I must back up a bit… Last week was not conducive to Courtney getting school work done. If I am recalling correctly, the week started with an increase in her pain level. Any time her pain level increases, work pretty much stops for the day. I can only imagine how difficult it is for her to continue to hope that things will improve, only to have that hope crushed when things get worse~ it makes it hard for me to force her to continue working. Tuesday saw a line of severe weather heading toward us, arriving right around the time I leave to get Jess from school. This presented a problem. No way was I going to leave our 14-year-old daughter home alone with the possibility of large hail, damaging winds, and tornadoes. Courtney was dropped off at Dad’s office while I went to cower in a hallway at school. Wednesday’s work time was interrupted by an appointment, and school work is turned in at 9:15 Thursday mornings. Most of her daily work was done~ with the exception of an Algebra assignment~ leaving two major projects still to complete.
And now this week… Courtney was all set. Because Friday (the day homebound teachers return completed work and pick up the next week’s work for all of their students) was a school holiday, her homebound teacher, Misti, adjusted Monday’s schedule so that she could pick up students’ work on her way to their homes. This meant that we had been moved from 9:15 to 10:30, leaving time for me to dye Courtney’s hair before Misti arrived. Courtney was very efficient, spending her time waiting to rinse, doing Algebra. We ran into a problem… one bottle of dye didn’t quite cover her entire head. Okay, that was fine. As soon as Misti left, I would go get another bottle and do the touch-up, Courtney would work while waiting to rinse and dry hair, and then spend the rest of the day getting school work done. Misti brought her work for the week, we took a look at everything, I emailed a teacher who had work for her, but didn’t get it in the box, and Courtney made a plan for the week. Plans change when your sister comes home sick in the middle of the day.
I left to go run errands, including getting more red dye, and Courtney started to work. I was gone five minutes when I got the phone call informing me that Jess couldn’t stay at school, she was running a fever. In the 30 minutes it took to get Jess and bring her home, Courtney had managed to get a lot of work done. Granted, the science was pretty easy, but I was proud, nonetheless. After getting Jess settled, I set to getting Courtney’s hair done. Apparently Courtney thought it was a good time to take a break. I can imagine it’s hard to get motivated to do school work while your little sister is curled up watching TV, being waited on hand and foot. To the best of my recollection, Courtney did not get much more work done Monday. Because Jessica ran fever all day Monday, we knew she would be staying home Tuesday as well. I thought Courtney and I could successfully regroup and she could get some school work done while Jess spent time resting, trying to feel better.
Caution, writer goes off on a tangent, continue at your own risk.
My main job title for the last~ almost~ 15 years has been “Mom”. As such, I play nurse to our kids when they are sick. It is tiring work, but the rewards are always worth the effort. When they were little, although I always hated them being sick, I enjoyed the time spent cuddling with them. They wanted nothing more than to be held and I always had open arms. Once both girls started school, I began to enjoy that time even more. Rarely were the girls both sick at the same time. When one of them got sick, I was free to spend almost eight hours giving one child my undivided attention. As they got older, they stopped wanting to cuddle. Sad, I know. Now all they want is the assurance that, yes, they will feel better soon, I will make ten batches of pancakes if that is all they feel like eating, a hug now and then, and to know that if they need anything, I will gladly do it for them. I love my job. In some ways, it was less demanding when they were younger… or maybe they were just quicker to pardon me when I didn’t do my job as well as I could have. I can honestly say, I wish I had done a better job the last few days~ I didn’t get a chance to hold Jess while she was sick. I did make her a batch of pancakes, make a couple of grilled cheese sandwiches, and did my best to make sure she didn’t have to move a muscle, but that pales in comparison to having my undivided attention for eight hours.
Every parent is a teacher, if you don’t want that job, don’t become a parent. With Courtney homebound, the job of teacher in my job description, has taken on new meaning. Misti is a wonderful homebound teacher. Had we been able to, we could not have chosen a better teacher for Courtney; I will be forever grateful that Misti has been here for her. She is an easy child to teach~ having taught herself almost three chapters of Algebra over the last two and a half months~ and Misti has had to provide very little instruction for her. I was amused this morning when she got here, itching to help Courtney with Algebra (Misti had been sure to review the lessons Courtney was working on). Courtney obliged, and together they made sure that she would have no trouble getting through the rest of the chapter. With only one hour a day, four days a week, Misti cannot be here to give a needed nudge to get work done, or answer questions that need to be answered at 1:00 Wednesday afternoon, in order to be sure work is complete, ready to go sometime between 9:15-10:15 Thursday morning. Misti’s job description does not include coming to our house several times throughout the day to remind Courtney that there is work to be done. I think that falls in my job description. And sometimes, there have been things to teach that I have been willing to tackle. Although I like poetry, I have not thought about iambs in 25 years. As her classroom teacher said, it is hard to teach on sticky notes. And just as hard to teach when it is not something you have done in several years. I have no doubt Misti could have managed, I just thought I would save her that nightmare.
This week has been a balancing act. Somewhere along the way, I became unbalanced. Jess was sick, I needed to know how high her fever was before Misti could come for Courtney’s hour. This meant that Courtney didn’t get any alone time in the morning. Most days, I am taking Jess to school when she gets out of bed. She then has another 30-40 minutes, while I run errands, to do whatever she wants to do. Usually she plays video games. You would think that a child with such a severe migraine would have no desire to play video games… you’d be wrong. It gives her something to focus on besides the pain. For the last two mornings, she has had to share with Jess. Jess didn’t have to do school work for two days, Courtney did. Misti left on Tuesday morning, Courtney got a small bit of work done before her dentist appointment and when we got home, she followed directions~ work for an hour, take a break for an hour, work for an hour. I have to give her credit, it was a well thought out plan; she spent x amount of time doing work from her core subjects, in the order of her class schedule. The only problem with the plan was that she only worked for two hours, taking her through only four of her five core subjects. After the second hour of work, she declared herself done. The teacher part of me couldn’t help but wonder why one of her core classes had been left out. If I were to tell you all of the work she did, you would be impressed. If I were to tell you all of the work yet to be done…
After the teacher part of me got angry with her for neglecting her work, the mom part of me took sympathy on Courtney. Jess was still being waited on, whilst watching TV in my room~ if I were Courtney, I would have a hard time with that. After all, it just doesn’t seem fair that your little sister gets to do nothing while you do school work. I get it. Jess seemed to be moving toward fever free, all indications being that she could go to school today, and I had given Courtney my lecture and made a deal with her. Truth be told, I have got to stop bargaining with that child. Jess couldn’t seem to get far enough away from the 100 degree mark to make me comfortable sending her back to school. Courtney had to share again this morning while Jess was in rare form… the bickering commenced minutes after I got them out of bed.
As for school work, Courtney worked hard today. Unfortunately, neither of us really knew that, although the Algebra she had left to do was fairly easy, it was also time consuming. The deal was, get certain work done to send with Misti Thursday morning, and I would allow her Thursday to finish work for me to drop off when I took Jess to school on Friday. Some of the work is not very time consuming, some she just doesn’t feel like doing, and some will take quite a bit of time. I know which teachers are willing to cut her a break. I also know that I cannot lie to these teachers. It is my fault her work is not done. My balancing act failed. Courtney will not have Thursday and Friday off… she will have her work done before Monday morning. It should have been done by 9:15 tomorrow morning.
I find it difficult to force a child in severe pain to do work when all she wants to do it watch movies with her sister. Sometimes, it is no easy feat to balance what needs to be done with what what is best for Courtney’ s pain. This is a learning process. I am learning, all the while trying to teach Courtney how to manage her life. She teaches me, as well. This week, I learned that sometimes, I must tell the child in pain that she has to do things she doesn’t want to do.