Life lessons

What the Heck is Momschooling, Anyway?

It’s officially summer here at The Burin Academy and every single one of us is thrilled! Wait, let me clarify. Every single one of us is BEYOND thrilled. As in, the most appreciative of school being finished than any of us has ever been before. 2ED36819-6969-44AD-9636-04A288CB31C2Why is this year’s introduction to summer celebrated above all others, you ask? I’ll answer with one word…Momschool.

Due to the pandemic raging through our state, schools here were closed back in March. Most of them were sent scrambling, trying to figure out how to finish out the year. Our boys were in two different schools-Jack, an 8th grader, and Elijah, a senior. Jack’s school began online schooling with multiple Zoom calls and schoolwork assigned each day. 10311638-0A40-4766-89BB-41CDFBD4FB74Elijah’s school went to work being optional and you know what that means. There was no way he was going to do anything that he didn’t have to. But despite the fact that Elijah was a senior, and his school deemed additional work optional, I felt it was important to keep both boys actively learning, instead of just torturing one of them. How fair would that be, anyway? So, we spent the next 45 days (not that I was counting, or anything) Momschooling. Both boys had a daily schedule that started at 9 and ended at 7. They had academic responsibilities. If there were no school assignments, they watched documentaries or researched topics. They read. They had chores. They helped make shopping lists and prepare dinner. They had a list of projects to do. For example, make a movie together, or write someone a real letter and mail it. Their days were full, that’s for sure, and they quickly found out there is no teacher that expects more from them than me.

As I’m sure you can guess, Momschooling wasn’t easy. It was quite a rollercoaster, to say the least. Some days went smoothly, while others were a battle from the time we woke up to the time we went to bed. Boundaries were tested, new standards were set, and I learned to dig deep down in order to find the patience needed to keep going. But it was incredibly satisfying to watch as the boys became more independent in the kitchen, or as they began to master real-life skills, and bond over shared projects. Although I had to keep a constant watchful eye on them, they learned important skills like: how to properly make a bed, or clean a bathroom, whereas before I would most likely let their halfhearted attempts at such tasks go, since we were too busy to stop and make sure all the little things were done right.

We all learned to work together and I know (although they won’t admit it), they developed a new appreciation for what it takes to run a household. In many ways, I am thankful for the experience and I hope, perhaps someday, they will be too.39A9F3D2-0267-4D80-8BFC-77DDDFF5E4CA

But perhaps the greatest thing I learned through all of this is that, although it was hard, it was nothing compared to true homeschooling. I take my hat off to all the parents out there who have made the commitment year after year to homeschool. I chose to call what I did Momschool because it was different than true homeschooling. I jumped in 3/4 of the way through the school year. For the most part, I had a curriculum already in place to follow. I had teachers who oversaw the work done and with whom I could come alongside and gain support. At no time was I on my own in this endeavor. True homeschooling would have required me to do all of this on my own. In addition, the boy’s academic comprehension and success would have fallen solely upon my shoulders. Creating a schedule and creating a curriculum are two vastly different tasks. Not to mention, there is no possible way I could help the boys with their math. I think I lost that ability at about the 5th grade level. I mean honestly, what the heck is a polynomial, anyway?

45 days as a “teacher” sure taught me a lot. I’m in awe of people who do it day after day, whether in a physical school, or at home. My hat goes off to those of you who choose this path in life. You give so much to others. Your patience is something to be admired. And your willingness to guide children into becoming the future of the world is something truly commendable. This pandemic has opened my eyes to see how much you selflessly give, and I will never again take that lightly. You all have become my heroes and although it may not be much, I thank you from the bottom of my heart for all you do.

So although I didn’t truly homeschool, I did Momschool the heck out of my boys as best I could. 

We got through it. 

We survived. 

I learned that patience and perseverance pay off in the long run.

The boys learned there is no tougher teacher than their mom.

And I’m sure we will all agree, we can’t wait for “real” school to start again in the fall.

Life lessons

School’s out for Summer

School’s out for summer.

School’s out forever.

-Alice Cooper

The executive order came out last week. 

In person school has been cancelled for the remainder of the year. 

Although I’ve known it was coming, the blow still hit me hard. Reality often does hit hard in this day and age, doesn’t it?

I braced myself to tell the boys, figuring it would be a difficult conversation. But they took it surprisingly well. I asked them if they felt sad or disappointed and they said they didn’t. I asked for some feedback and all I got was, “well if it means less work in the end, then I’m all for it”. Yep, that’s my introverted, homebody son for you.

And that’s when it hit me. Sometimes news like this is harder on the parents than on the kids. Not always, many kids do take it hard I know, but many times parents are left with the feeling of loss as well. I’m not even talking about the difficult logistics of having kids home all the time, trying to homeschool, keeping them busy, etc. That’s a whole other ballgame. I’m just talking about the loss of what was to come. 

This year we have an 8th grader and a senior. Needless to say, these are two milestone school years. 

Our 8th grader will be a (gulp) high schooler next year. He was looking forward to a spring track season to help him prepare for cross country in high school. He was having a great year and had formed some fantastic friendships. It really seemed as if he had found his place. Unfortunately, since his school this year is a small private school that ends in 8th grade, all of his friends will scatter to different high schools next year. I personally have loved his school. The nurturing environment and small size were really what he needed after a few years moving around internationally. I truly appreciated the support given freely time and time again by staff and parents. I can’t even begin to convey what an overall great experience it has been. 

Then there’s our senior. Now that school’s closed he clearly won’t have the opportunity to experience all his lasts as a high school student. He won’t go to prom. He won’t have his last class. He won’t even have a graduation ceremony.

These are things that I’ve realized mean more to me than I would have ever realized. I appreciate life’s milestones very much. Celebrating all the lasts and firsts in life are a really big deal to me and many of these experiences come into our family through our kid’s lives. 

So, are the boys ok? Yes. Am I ok? Not really, but I’m getting there. Every day gets a bit easier. I took down their school schedules. They’ve emptied out their backpacks. And we’ve gotten into a new ”normal” routine. But waves of sadness do still hit me. I suppose I need a bit of time to mourn. 

Life will go on. New firsts and lasts will happen. Our world will recover and these times will turn into a history lesson for the people of the future. But right now is hard. We will all be faced with disappointment and change in our life circumstances. Sometimes we may just need to lick our wounds for a bit before we pick ourselves up and keep moving forward. 

I am so proud of my boys and their resiliency. May it be a lesson to me to focus on the here and now instead of the what could have (or should have) been. We are blessed. We are together. And this too shall pass. 

But oh how the type A, hyper-planner in me hates every minute of it! 😉

Stay strong!

-Laurie

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