After-School Chaos

by

After School
Sure, they look innocent enough…

You might remember a couple of months back I wrote about how sad I was after sending The Animal off to all-day kindergarten and then returning to my startlingly quiet home. That was the moment I realized how much I’d enjoyed having him around, and the resulting silence left by his departure left me utterly heartbroken.

Well, I got over that pretty quick. Like the next day.

Honestly, it’s been quite wonderful having the entire day to myself. Not only has it enabled me to get a ton of work done, but it’s also allowed me to catch up on one of my favorite pastimes: napping.

Of course, all good things must come to an end, and this particular good thing comes to an end right around three o’clock every day when I pick up my kids and my niece from school. After spending the majority of my day in relative silence, suddenly I find myself thrust into a world of raving lunatics who are now intent on releasing all that pent-up energy from sitting in school all day long.

After the initial explosion of youthful exuberance that sends them bouncing all over the house, screaming and yelling and pealing off their school uniforms as they go, if I’m lucky I manage to get them to pause long enough to do their homework. Unfortunately, this just opens up a whole nother can of worms. This ain’t your mama’s homework, you see. Boogieface, for example, is only in the 2nd Grade, yet her math homework looks like it was drawn up by Stephen Hawking. For a wordsmith like me, who prefers to avoid numbers at all costs, it can be especially confusing. I mean, do we really even need math anymore? Personally, I’m surviving just fine without it.

The Animal usually just has a single page he has to color. Now that’s my kind of homework. But the girls usually have a whole page of math and another whole page of writing/grammar, plus a story they have to read aloud to me from their reader. The 30 minutes to an hour that it takes for them to complete their homework is one filled with so much moaning and whining, sometimes I feel like I’m the overseer of a medieval dungeon—albeit one with a bunch of LEGOs all over the ground. 

I don’t know about you, but I don’t ever remember having homework that was so lengthy and difficult that I needed to ask my parents for help. And definitely not when I was in 2nd Grade. I mean, what’s the point of making it though Grades 1-12, not to mention four more years of college, if you have to relive it all over again through your children? If I would’ve known that, I’d have waited until I had children to begin my academic career.

After homework the kiddos always beg me for an after-school treat, which I flatly deny because a) dinner’s not that far off and b) I know they didn’t eat half of the lunch I packed them earlier that morning. If I’m lucky and it’s a nice day out, I can convince them to go outside to play so that I can enjoy a few more moments of peace before the Battle of Dinnertime begins.

However, that doesn’t always go so well either.

Watch out for them jaggers!
Watch out for them jaggers!

Like the other day, when after convincing them to go outside, I headed into what Sr. Margaret used to refer to as the “lavoratory”. Surely the kids would be fine on their own for a few minutes. But just moments later I heard the screen door slam and my daughter yelling that her brother was hurt. “Come quick, Daddy!” she said. “He got hurt, and his eye is bleeding!”

I panicked, of course, imagining the worst as I hastily made myself…well, presentable. Right then he came inside, crying hysterically, several fresh red gashes across his face. Apparently he had run straight into some thorns, or what we in Western PA call “jaggers.” Luckily he was more afraid than anything and his eye hadn’t been harmed. Whew.

Maybe having such a large portion of the day all to myself isn’t such a good thing after all, considering it just sets me up for such a shock later on when school lets out. Then again, maybe I just need to learn how to embrace the chaos.

That and take longer naps during the day. I need the energy later on.~

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