Ever had one of those days where you wish life had a rewind button? Today was a day when we could have surely used one.
It was supposed to have been a fun day filled with new and exciting learning adventures. I stayed up late last night reviewing my plan and making the needed preparations. The girls went to bed on time and got a fairly good night’s rest …
except that Baby Bear woke up about an hour earlier than she should have this morning and spent the first half hour of the day making it abundantly clear that she was NOT happy to be awake. That alone should have clued me in that today was going to be r-o-u-g-h one. Nonetheless, we moved forward according to plan. By 8 a.m., both girls were dressed and ready to begin the day. I had just a bit of laundry that I wanted to fold and put away first.
Then, disaster struck.
“Mommy, Mommy!” Little Bear shouted, “Come quick!”
I walked toward the living room, my hands full of laundry, expecting to see a stray ant or perhaps even a few drops of milk spilled on the carpet. Instead, I met Little Bear clutching an empty tube of triple antibiotic ointment.
“Baby Bear found the medicine you put on my knee yesterday, and she’s smearing it everywhere!” Little Bear informed me. “She’s got it all over her, and she’s painting your chair with it. She even got it on me!”
Little Bear did not exaggerate. And just for the record, a nearly-full 2 oz. tube of triple antibiotic ointment is enough to coat a toddler, a large recliner, and a significant portion of carpet. Oh, and did I mention that the stuff is even more impervious to common household cleaning agents than, say, Silly Putty?
Suffice it to say, the hour that followed was not pleasant. But lots of scrubbing and not a few tears later, the living room was once again habitable, and both kids were mostly ointment free. I brewed another cup of coffee, gave all of us a dose of Rescue Remedy, and pulled both girls into my lap in the hopes of regrouping and salvaging the morning.
… except in the midst of the ointment craziness, I’d forgotten to eat breakfast. And two cups of coffee do not settle well on an empty, already queasy stomach. Three stories and a handful of Mother Goose rhymes into the day, I had to cry uncle. I sent the girls to play, dug out my Zofran, fed myself breakfast, and closed my eyes for 20 blissful minutes …
until angry shrieks sent me running to the girls’ room, where I found two would-be little princesses feuding over a crown. The crown ended up in time out, and we made yet another attempt to start school. We actually got through calendar time and Bible time unscathed. Then, Little Bear begged to do Life of Fred.
The unit we’d stopped on yesterday introduced time to the minute. Little Bear had really struggled to understand how the long hand being on the 1 translated into :05, how 2 translated into :10, and so on. I’d chalked her struggles up to fatigue and put the book away, hoping we’d have better luck with the material today.
But we didn’t.
She’s capable of counting by 5′s. She had no problem counting out minutes on our teaching clock (which shows minutes in the form of small numerals). But whenever she was asked to read time from a “real” clock, she immediately reverted to reading 4:10 as “4:2,” 6:30 as 6:6, and so on.
“Come on,” I challenged, “you can do this! You just have to count by 5′s!”
Instead of rising to the challenge as I expected, my math-loving child suddenly dissolved into puddle of tears and wilted into my arms.
Ever feel like you’ve “broken” you kid? In that moment, I seriously wondered whether I had forever quenched my child’s fascination, and I too melted. Several hugs and a Mommy apology later, she asked to continue on with math. We finished the day’s lesson with some basic geometry and several logic puzzles, but the clock was set aside indefinitely.
Math done, I went to check on Baby Bear who was supposedly looking at books in the girls’ room, and indeed she was. But she’d apparently grown tired of the easy-to-reach shelves filled with toddler books and had repurposed her bathroom step stool to reach “big kid” pop-up books — one of which was thoroughly dismantled all over the bed.
“Look, Mommy!” she cried in excitement as soon as our eyes met. “Dese pictures come out!”
Yet more tears ensued when I not-so-gently broke the news that without its pop-up pictures, the book she had so thoroughly enjoyed was reduced to landfill fodder.
Then Little Bear arrived on the scene of the carnage, and her eyes also began to fill with tears. “Can’t you fix it, Mommy?” she pleaded. “I love those books so much! I wanted to keep them for my children!”
With that, another hard and unplanned lesson ensued: Some things Mommy just can’t fix.
Science has a great way of distracting from sadness, though. So I pulled both girls onto the bed beside me, pulled several of the undamaged books from the same series off the shelf, and showed them how the pop-ups worked as we read through the stories. The last book finished, Little Bear asked, “Mommy, is it lunch time yet?”
“Probably,” I said. “What time is it?”
“The short hand is on the one,” she replied, “so it’s 1 o’clock. The long hand is on the two, so it’s 1:2 — no, 5, 10 … it’s 1:10! It’s past time for lunch!” (Funny how those “failed” math lessons suddenly seemed to take root when she actually had a reason to use the target skill!)
As we sat eating lunch, Little Bear once again piped up: “Mommy, I have a great idea! What about going swimming this afternoon? We could all use some fresh air and sunshine.”
She was right. We could all benefit from fresh air and sunshine. And today of all days, it seemed that we could benefit more from active outdoor play, fun, and happy togetherness than from any number of formal lessons. At my request, Little Bear cheerfully practiced her reading, reading aloud as I cleaned up from lunch.
Then, we were off to the pool for some much-needed family fun. … Life may not come with a rewind button, but at least “recharge,” “rejuvenate,” and “reset” made the list of options!