Tag Archiv: skipping school

What we are learning

Inspired by the, “what we are learning,” newsletter from the new school. What we are learning:

Girl one is learning to make a roux and a white sauce. The goal is homemade macaroni and cheese from scratch so she will know how to make a favourite dish. She is also learning by default the pleasure of not being the one assigned to the hard lessons. (Thanks to me, her father also had reason to revisit this pleasant educational state.)

Girl two is learning that no one finds it funny when you take a sharp metal object and scratch large designs on the piano bench. In fact, they are still mad at you every time they walk by. She is also learning how to fake sincere apologies by closing her eyes, and nodding her head with her lips squished together.

Boy one is learning to clean a toilet properly. He has also had his first run at final exams and the concept of extensive studying. Results still to come, he is sure he did brilliantly. He has not yet learned how to fake sincere apologies. We look forward with longing to the day he decides to try.

Boy two is learning that when you fake being sick because you want the a day off to read (while your father is very sick with the stomach flu) your mother does not forgive you for a tiny apology and an offer of $10. A compliment from another adult that would have melted her a week ago (you’re doing well with your French) fails to impress. Maternal ears appear immune to your sweetness, and most uninterested in compliments of any kind in reference to you.

My lesson plans were as follows:

First, when my husband missed the bus that boy one takes to school (because he stopped for gas before dropping him off) the obvious lesson was that late people merit frustrating outcomes. I can’t remember if I shared my insights. Probably not. The lesson was too self evident.

It turns out the lesson was actually that it would happen to me too (undeserving and timely, though I am) if I similarly stop for gas before dropping off. For reasons that are dull (no cell phone, faker sick boy, real sick husband, etc.) my little failure to get the lesson when someone else was learning it cost me the better part of an hour and a half to get everyone to where they needed to be. Husband was empathetic, and warmed to the cockles of his toes.

I also learned about metal cans. I.e. cutting yourself on metal can lids is not hard to do. Even though I cut myself badly on a peach can lid two years ago and swore to never to make that mistake again. In fact, while fighting with a useless can opener, it was possible to cut with even more gusto, deeper and longer on the edge of a massive ketchup can lid.

Trying to Remember

When my daughter told me to write about Ivan, my son added without looking up, “Write about Remembrance Day.”

Remembrance Day brings out my split personality. It’s the day I came to Canada. It’s boy two’s birthday. Maybe if I lived in the States and called it Veterans Day I would always remember that it isn’t about me. Coming to Canada was a big deal for my then twenty year old self. I remember it like an Israelite remembers leaving Egypt. Scary at first like you wouldn’t believe in the desert. Wanting to go back. Then wandering in circles for a few years while the promised land waited patiently for lights to dawn on marble head.

Mid gratitude reflecting on what the day has meant for me, I inevitably pass a veteran and am filled with shame. NOTE TO SELF: This day is about THEM! My brain believes in gratitude and remembrance but knowing what to do about that seems hard, so I let it get lost in the details. ┬áBesides, it’s boy two’s birthday. There’s celebrating to be done.

Boy two does not mind sharing his birthday. He thinks it’s special to be born on Remembrance Day, the same way he thinks it’s special to be short and bow legged. (He claims this puts his legs at a better angle for tree climbing.) He was not impressed that I did not take him out of school to go to a Remembrance Day service.

Writing a letter two days after the day doesn’t fix it. Mine is an imperfect attempt to do what I tell my kids: you can’t undo the wrong thing, but you try to make it right.

Dear Veterans,

I am not wearing a poppy because they always fall off and poke me. Seeing you overwhelms me with the size of what you did. I have read many more books on events during WWII than I am years old. For some reason I just listened to six hours of an American History Channel WWII series while driving. I don’t see an old man, or whatever age you are, when I walk by you, I see some mother’s son risking his life for other people. I imagine shaking your hand, looking you in the eye, saying thank you. Instead, I fumble in my purse for change and send the kids to buy a poppy sticker for themselves. I nod at you. Say something inane to the kids about staying with me in the parking lot and move on.

I don’t like the way I do it either. I have no idea how to properly say thank you for the United States that I grew up in or for the Canada where I found home. I promise to let the kids skip school next year to stand in front of the flag with you even if it is cold and raining. Everything I get to remember on November 11, says thanks to you.

Sincere admiration and thanks,

From a woman who ought to have said something sooner