Jun 272010
 


Many of you have asked if I’ll continue homeschooling Chase in the fall.

In short: Hell No.

Let me explain.

Craig and I became curious about the public elementary school as soon as we arrived in our new town. Everywhere we went (ice cream parlor, farmers market, church…that’s about it) folks excitedly asked us if Chase would attend the neighborhood grade school. Their eyes lit up as they spoke of the school’s excellent teachers, notable awards, and special spirit. It seemed the elementary school was thought of as a local treasure. Chase and I decided to check it out.

We made an appointment, took a tour, and liked what we saw. There are small classes, loving teachers, an exciting atmosphere, a diverse student body…and as Chase noted…a cool playground and tator tots. We were both impressed. Not that it would have taken much to impress us, based on the school to which we were comparing it . . . The Melton Homeschool. Which, as it turns out, is certainly on the top ten list of Worst Schools Ever In the History Of the World.

The Homeschooling part of this Dropping Out / Dropping In experiment did not go as planned.

Here is how I envisioned our Homeschool Experience:

The kids and I would wake at eight-ish, kiss each other good morning, and mosey downstairs for pancakes and organic, freshly squeezed orange juice. During breakfast, we would preview our Daily Schedule, which would be neatly recorded on our official Homeschooling Dry Erase Board. Then the children would scurry off to get dressed for the day while I did the dishes and prepared the materials for our first projects, whistling while I worked, obviously. In my vision I was showered, wearing a little white apron, and done up real pretty.

When the kids came back downstairs – shiny, matching, smiling and holding hands – I would set up Tish and Amma with the creative and brain-expanding art project I had prepared for them the night before. Then Chase and I would get to work on our investigative report about how to Save the Bay from pollution. After that, we would finish up his first poetry anthology and get it ready to send off to the publisher. Then I’d introduced calculus. While he started to work independently on his Mandela biography, the girls would present their artwork to me, articulately discussing their use of color and shadowing and such.

Then we would break for lunch, which the children would prepare using elements from each of the food groups. Immediately following lunch we would treasure hunt through the neighborhood…looking for specific plants and flowers, labeling their parts and then hand delivering to them to elderly neighbors. Then we would write up a review of our day, highlighting new discoveries and inquiries and plans for the next day, and the kids would wait excitedly at the front door together, shaking with the anticipation of reporting our educational adventures to Craig. I would retreat to the powder room to freshen up and then quickly retrieve Craig’s robe and pipe and scotch. I don’t really know what to say about that last part. We’ve been watching a lot of Mad Men.

**Please note that none of this is an exaggeration. This is really what I thought would happen. My hopefulness is what makes my life extremely exciting and also, consistently disappointing. It’s like what Homer Simpson said about alcohol: “Hope: the cause of – and solution to – all of life’s problems.” **

Kay. Real Life Version:

Chase would actually stumble downstairs at nine thirtyish. By then, the girls and I had been up for approximately one million hours. I’d already refereed thirty fights, cleaned up six broken glasses, watched nine cartoons, changed twelve diapers, and cried while whimpering I just can’t do this anymore three times. And so it would be high time to take a long break for breakfast. However, I don’t know how to make pancakes. And I don’t have an apron. Also I always forget to shower. Which made those parts of my vision impossible. So we’d just have some cereal and then rest for a quick six hours.

We’d end up starting homeschooling around two o’clock. Only I wouldn’t have prepared any schedule or art projects for the girls the night before because of those damn Kardashians and Audrina and Justin. So I’d throw some play-doh at the girls and then turn to Chase and ask him what he thought he should learn that day. And he’d always look at me blankly and say something like, I don’t know. Maybe math or something? But that wasn’t very specific. So much for child-led learning. By then Tish would be screaming because Amma was eating all the pink play-doh and I would have tell Amma to stop please, that play-doh is not organic. But then with nothing else to eat, she’d bite Tish instead. More screaming.

So I’d stare at my girls and wish really hard that I could send them to the principal’s office, or call their parents to suggest therapy or at least some parenting classes, or better yet, suspend them from school indefinitely. But there were obvious problems with each of those solutions. So instead I’d just tell Amma to go ahead and eat the play-doh after all. And Tish would scream that it wasn’t fair that Amma got to eat play-doh when she couldn’t. So I’d give Tish the green play-doh to feast upon. Then I’d finally turn back to Chase, but he’d have escaped off to the corner to read, wisely deciding that it might be his only chance to learn something. And I’d be grateful, because it had been a very long six minutes of homeschooling and I was completely exhausted again.

And as if these circumstances weren’t difficult enough . . . all of a sudden, through absolutely no fault of my own, we would accidentally go to the beach every day. Right in the middle of Homeschool Time. We would call it P.E. But after three hours of PE in the bay, I would start feeling guilty and make Chase answer some multiplication problems in the sand. And then every half hour or so, I’d think of a smart fact I knew, and I’d yell it to him while he was boogie –boarding. Like…for example, I’d sit up real quick from sun bathing and yell…Hey Chase, so there’s this TOWER in PISA and it LEANS. And he’d yell back, COOL MOM. Where’s Pisa? And I’d yell back, Ummm….. I can’t hear you. And then I’d lay back down, pleased with myself. How many teachers can weave Architecture lessons so seamlessly into Physical Education?

Somewhere along the way, Bubba and Tisha started noticing that each time they stopped by during our “school day,” we were asleep, at the beach, or flossing play-doh out of our teeth. So Bubba planned a research unit for Chase about the local economy. He took Chase to interview a local boat builder, fisherman, and farmer. The two of them created the questions together, went for the interviews, and Chase wrote up reports. In this report, he was working on transition sentences, which you’ll note at the end of paragraph two.

The end result of this research unit was that Chase gained some new friends and knowledge about how Small Town USA operates. Thanks to Bubba, Chase has learned some valuable lessons during our Homeschooling Time, in addition to this one: a human being can eat pounds of play-doh and survive.

And I’ve learned something too, which is this: one can consider herself a decent teacher, and still totally blow at homeschooling. It’s hard. And some hard things I just don’t want to do. God bless you ladies who do it. Truly and really, I am awed. And also done. Quite done.

So excited to see that yellow bus. C’moooooooon Sweet Yellow Bus.

I love you, public school system. Always have, always will. Forever and ever and ever.


Love, G




Feb 232010
 


Top Three Most Embarrassing Melton Pediatric Visits


When Chase was six months old, I took him to a pediatric optometrist because he looked completely cross eyed in every picture we took of him. After the exam, the doctor left the exam room* and when he returned he said:

“Ma’am. I have identified the issue that’s causing Chase to appear cross eyed.”

I took a deep breath and held it. The doctor continued:

“Chase…. is…. Asian.”

Long pause.

He’s Asian? I said. That’s your diagnosis?

“Yes, ma’am.” He pointed to Chase in his car seat. “That’s just what Asian babies look like.”

Well. Fine, I said. Shall I bring him back in three weeks if these Asian symptoms continue or worsen?

“No, you shouldn’t.”

Kay. Goodbye, then.

Not a lot of room for humor in optometry, apparently.


When Chase was three, I took him to the pediatrician to get his ears checked. He was really struggling to hear Craig and me and didn’t even respond to the simplest, loudest directions. After the doctor examined him, she left the exam room*. When she came back she said:

“Mrs. Melton, his hearing is perfect. Chase is hearing you. He’s just not listening to you.”

Nother long pause.

Examine.

Him.

Again.

I said.


When Chase was three months old, he developed a very strange orange rash on his face. It started small, just around his mouth, but started spreading further, past his nose and chin. After a week of watching it grow and deepen in color, we started worrying about jaundice and took him to the pediatrician. The doctor examined Chase’s teeny face and left the room.* When she finally returned, she said:

“Mrs. Melton, I couldn’t help but notice that your skin is tinted the same orange-ish color as your son’s face.”

Nother. Long. Pause.

Say what? I said, eventually.

The doctor looked uncomfortable, but continued:

“Are you, by chance, using a self tanning lotion?”

Ummm….yeah.

“And you’re using it…all over?”

Well….yes.

“And you’re still breast feeding, right?“


Double Pause.


Ohhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh.

We don’t go to the doctor anymore unless we are currently on fire.


*I noticed a pattern while writing this essay. Doctors always leave the room for several minutes before they’ll speak to me. I talked to several friends about this phenomenon, and they all said that their doctors never leave the room before offering a diagnosis.

I am now convinced that the doctors leave so I can’t see them burst out laughing. They close the door on us and then they run into an empty exam room and pull out their cells and call their doctor buddies and spouses and say “you’re not gonna believe this one” and then they quickly update their Facebook Statuses with “So this crazy lady just came into the office and….”

Then they return to our room when they’ve decided they are capable of looking at me with a straight face.

Whatever, honestly.


Swing by here and here for the Melton Emergency Room Greatest Hits. So far.

Love, G




Jan 282010
 

Hi everybody.

Last night, Amma and I watched some old home movies on my laptop together. We would have watched them on TV, but we don’t have a TV. We got rid of it when we decided that our family was being brainwashed by consumerism and wasting our lives away on the couch. We wanted more quiet, so we decided to create our own “Walden” experiment by living without a TV. Our decision was very rebellious and dramatic and revolutionary, I thought.

Here’s the thing. I miss my TV. I want it back. It’s been nice, you know, I guess, and I really do believe that life is better in most ways without it, but I still want it back. I feel out of the loop. I never know what’s going on in the world, and when I go to CNN.com to catch up, I try really hard to click on the important stories about the wars and natural disasters and thing such as this, but I always accidentally click on something about the Gosselins. And after reading about them, I get tired and my news time is over. So all I ever really know about the world is what Jon and Kate are doing. Also sometimes a little about Lindsay Lohan.

And also, there’s something comforting about flopping down on the couch at the end of a long day with my hubby and vegging out together. I miss it. I mean HOW MUCH CAN YOU REALLY TALK TO EACH OTHER? I think Craig and I may have hit our limit. And reading is great…reading is my favorite, but it’s so individual. We can read next to each other but we can’t really read together. I draw the line at marital read-alouds. And also, when I decided in my head that Craig and I would read together every night, I may have forgotten to factor in that Craig hates to read.

And, Oh My Gosh: HGTV. How I miss you HGTV. I think of you every single day, HGTV. How is the House Hunting going? The Divine Designing? Are you still Designing to Sell? Oh, we will meet again soon, Sweet, Sweet HGTV.

By the way: here’s a secret for you. While we don’t have TV service, we still have a little TV and DVD player downstairs that I keep to “do my yoga.” But I have NEVER “done my yoga” down there. All I have done is everyday say to my children “Hey guys! Since it’s a special occasion – would you three like to go downstairs and watch a movie and not come back up here unless someone is on fire?” And Chase always says “Mommy, why is it a special occasion again? It’s just Tuesday.” And I say, “This is the day that the LORD has made, Chase. Every day is a special occasion. Roll with it. Go.” So, the truth is that the entire Walden experiment is a bit of a sham anyway.

Or, maybe it’s not a sham. Maybe it just had a different outcome than I thought it would. Maybe the outcome is…I do want a TV. I do. I do. I really do. I mean, Thoreau didn’t live in the woods FOREVER. He came back. I wanna come back.

Here’s the other thing. I was going to write about Amma today. I think I got a little sidetracked. Oh, well. Here’s the video we watched together last night. I’d never seen it before. It will explain why my kids prefer to play with Craig than me. When I play “bookstore” I sit on the couch with my coffee and demand everyone use his library voice. Check out Tish’s body language, facial expressions, and attitude. It’s like she was made for customer service.




P.S. Today is the anniversary of Shayla Marie’s death. You can read about her here. We love you, Sunny.