What happens in a classroom when the teacher goes on strike? Well, when the world happens to be your classroom, a surprising amount of learning takes place even in the absence of a formal instructor.
It was one of those days today. There were bills to pay and appointments to make. There was laundry to put away and a dishwasher full of dishes waiting to be emptied. There were meals to cook, diapers to change, beds to make, medications to dispense, telemarketers to ignore. And while I was trying to go three directions at once, with Baby Bear tagging along behind and impatiently begging for nursies, Little Bear posed the innocent question, “Mommy, when are we going to do school?”
After counting to 10 (or perhaps 100), I informed her that we weren’t “doing school” today and that her “assignment” for the day was to entertain herself.
… She took the task quite seriously and started by donning an old tutu, constructing a pink Mega-Block wand, and proclaiming herself a princess. Since she already had the Mega-Bloks out, she built a series of towers and compared their heights. She completed a wooden jigsaw puzzle, then helped Baby Bear fit pieces into a jumbo knob puzzle. Then, with lunchtime approaching and temperatures rising, we headed outside for some much-needed fresh air and sunshine. Little Bear climbed in my lap for some “private Mommy time” (her words), while Baby Bear pursued the birds and squirrels. When Baby Bear’s exploits took her in the direction of the picnic tables (which she considers her personal jungle gym), we followed after. Along the way, Little Bear found a stick. The stick became a sword, the picnic table a pirate ship, and the green grass a dangerous stretch of shark-infested waters. The Dread Pirate Little Bear declared herself the protector of Princess Baby Bear, and so ensued a fantastic game of make-believe.
Little Bear asked me to get the camera and take a picture of her “pirate face” as she wielded her sword to save Princess Baby Bear from a fearsome shark:
We, uh, obviously haven’t had many discussions about pirates and what exactly they do. (She saw part of an episode of Jake and the Neverland Pirates at speech therapy one day and now thinks that pirates live on boats, talk to birds, and help people.) We’ll wait a few years before spoiling her innocent fun with cold, hard facts.
We headed back inside just in time for Caillou. Caillou and Co. kept the girls entertained while I cleaned out the refrigerator and turned Sunday and Monday’s leftovers into lunch. Then, we all piled into the recliner for some rest time and reading.
Little Bear got out her dry erase board and practiced writing the letter Pp while I got Baby Bear to sleep. When she tired of writing, she did an alphabet dot-to-dot page. Then, she headed back to the toy bins and had a picnic with her stuffed animals.
I spent nap time organizing the girls’ clothes and emptying a box in the process. Little Bear immediately snagged it and asked if she could use it as a letter Pp box (an idea she’s borrowed from Jane Belk Moncure’s Sound Box series). I told her that she was welcome to the box, but that if she wanted to create a sound box she either needed to do it on her own or wait until tomorrow. She chose the first option. After wandering around the house for a few minutes, she called me into the living room and asked me to take a picture of her with her box. She’d filled it with …
- a puppy pillow
- a puppy lovey
- a pair of pajamas
- a wooden pig
- a stuffed panda bear
- two wooden bears
- a pot
- a pan
- a pinwheel
- a can of pineapple
- a jar of baby food peaches
- a picture of her parents
- a puzzle
Finally, she climbed on top of the overflowing box because, “I can pretend to be a pirate or a pig or a princess or anything!”