Saturday, September 27, 2008

Finally. . .

School started for my son on August 25th and for my daughter on September 2nd. It is has taken me a month to acclimate to all of it. It was a month of transition. My son is involved in a new sport. My daughter finished up the dinner theater run on September 13th. (I am not going to tell you how many miles I put on my car.) Her new school started in a staggered start, first with the cyber portion and then gradually with the performing arts sector. As of last week, the list of needed school supplies was still trickling in. I think we got it all covered from notebooks, to sketchbooks, to sports clothes, to dance tights and shoes.

It was a new experience for me to be my daughter's home facilitator. I am not homeschooling. She has teachers. But the first weeks of her school were spent learning the technology of such an educational environment. We had to learn to record her voice for her French class. She needed to take screen shots, scan drawings, and learn PowerPoint. She needed to figure out how to link up to attend scheduled chats and how to upload her picture so she could be represented visually by something other than a smiley face. Sending emails, IM's--all new to her. That was just her technical education. She (and I, too) are learning to use our time effectively. In a cyber school, she doesn't get a break to move around. She is sitting before a computer most of the day. That gets hard for a girl who has some attention issues. (Did I mention that she, at least in part, gets that from her mother?) Just this past week, she has begun to work more independently, freeing me up to get some of my work done. Still, I am looking over her shoulder, answering my facilitator mail, and fixing lunches and snacks.

I don't begrudge this work. She is getting a top notch arts education two days a week at the performing arts school. I know that she really must want this, because the nature of the cyber school is such that it takes the remaining five days for her to get it all done. No days off. Part of my personal code is to promote arts education and to encourage women and children to use art to express themselves in ways that empower them to live more fully. Even if I am not getting my own artwork done as much as I would like, I feel as though I am moving forward on my life's agenda.

I don't think I am a particularly selfless mother. In some ways I think I am downright unsuited for the task. I am undisciplined, unkempt, and unorganized. (Did I mention that during this month of adjustment I took my son to the wrong orthodontist office, my daughter to the wrong birthday party and managed to forget my purse when going school shopping?) I am also unwilling to give up my own agenda. (I do modify my course of action, but never surrender entirely.)

Still, I am learning to surrender to the way life is for me at this point in my journey. I won't always have the kids at home. My son had a birthday last week. In two years he will be driving. In the next presidential election, he will be voting. So, I am learning to let go of expectation. Perhaps I won't be able to take the art world and literary world by storm. (The fact that I am trying to tackle both at the same time should be grounds for a) divorce b) commitment into a mental facility or c) a sitcom starring Tina Fey. So, I am taking things slowly. Next week I will attempt to write, paint, and exercise. I don't remember the last time I have written, painted and exercised in the same week. I also am going to go to my son's sporting event, be my daughter's facilitator, take on the hosting responsibilities for a Lancaster Literary Guild event, teach a class, meet with my art coach, and help with classic film/dinner night at my daughter's school. And yet I feel calm and positive about the week ahead. In comparison to weeks past, I am optimistic that I will find some equilibrium.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Cyber School

Today is my daughter’s first day at her performing arts school. I am so excited for her. Even the air at the school has the quality of enrichment. I can’t wait for the long drive home to hear of her exploits.

Energetically speaking, the last two weeks have been scattered. Maren’s play run ended over the weekend. Good timing. I won’t be lurking in the back lots of the theater at 10:30 at night any more. For some that may be an early night, but I wake each morning at 5, so it seemed strange for me to be conscious, much less out and about. My son started his school before the Labor Day holiday. Luckily for both of us, he is in the third year of Middle School. So as we experience novelty with his sister’s education, his is stable and a repetition of years past. To supplement the performing arts school, my daughter has been doing cyber school. After today she’ll be on a schedule of three days a week online and two days a week at the physical school (an hour from our house). Though she has teachers, I have been given the title and responsibility of home facilitator. I am thinking of having that title printed on my business cards and given its own paragraph on my resume now that I see the effort it requires.

I realize that it will take us some time to learn to navigate the system to a point where we are fluid and Maren is more independent. I am used to having my days to accomplish my own agenda. In my mind, there was this pleasant little scene. Maren would be doing her school work at the efficient work station we set up for her in the dining room. I would be nearby on my laptop, floating over to her like a fairy godmother when needed. Somehow, I blocked out the way we typically interact with each other when frustration runs high.

Day one: the sites were bogged down by keen new students. While we waited for page after page to reload, Maren was rolling on the floor with the dog.
Day two: I banned her from going to her room between or during lessons.
Mom, I’m stuck.
Don’t mention the fact that I am flowing with my work only to have it interrupted time and time again. Maren’s teacher called to check on her progress since she hasn’t seen any work in math or science. Whoops. We thought we had submitted it. I am pretty savvy on the computer—or so I thought. We are learning together. The great joy has been to listen to the French lectures together and then to roam the house speaking in tongues: English, French and Franglais.
Comment ca va?
Ca va, et toi?
Pas mal.

This is all sure to be an adventure.