I'm fully prostrate on the couch in my serene front room. "Because it's your one nice room," the kids always answer when I ask why in here I don't want them acting as if they're on a playground. They're correct, relatively speaking. It is my nicest room, the cleanest and most adult beyond the kitchen.
Real art hangs on its walls. Books with grown-up fonts marking their spines remind me of all I've read and loved and been changed by over the years. Nicely framed photographs, a library case that we use for wedding china and stemware, and even an antique demilune table that I spent years searching for give this room a mature, somewhat elegant feel that's largely missing in the rest of our home.
Our other rooms are more practical and comfortable for a family with young sons, and, by and large, I love the commingling of New York Times sections with swim noodle light sabers, a glass vase of flowers sitting next to plastic Melissa & Doug placemats, a cat tower weighted down by cartons of Zoobs and MagnaTiles. It's a mess but a loving, lived-in one.
I can see all that from where I now lie, in a filtered-sun spot next to a snoring pug. I like the proximate remove; even though our house isn't large and the floorpan is contiguous (which means the boys can literally run circles around the house), I don't spend much time in here. My parents had a room like this, in the house in which I grew up. It had a formal couch, a piano and pale carpet. We never went in but I always loved it. It felt clean and quiet and just slightly distant.
I likely wouldn't be here right now if I weren't tuckered out by a great but wildly busy week and the cold I caught from Tom during it. I feel like such tired crap. Being sick is not a strength of mine, but I'm trying to go with it today because I do need some rest.
A most wonderful friend stayed with us Monday-Wednesday and she and I ignored reasonable bedtimes to take advantage of the fleeting time together. Then the book events on Wednesday, a play date yesterday and then, last night, Back to School Night for Jack, my fourth grader.
It's almost worth being under the weather today to get to bask in quiet gratitude about the school J and O attend. I could not feel luckier, and I mean that.
Jack's teachers are, again, remarkable, representing Quaker- and best, most current educational- values at their very best: "Whether it's math, baseball or something within themselves, we want the kids to know that all of us are always working on something."
To make the myriad challenges of growth normative is such an incredible gift for a child. Wouldn't it have been amazing to hear, for all us who never did or did too late, "everyone is always working on something" before we started intensely comparing ourselves to others? Before any deleterious senses of self -I'm not as smart, not as athletic, not as capable- became too entrenched?
The teachers also said what a gift it was to teach at a Quaker school because when an educational institution's goal is to value the unique inner light in each child, it allows them to meet the children where they are as individuals, honor what about each makes him/her special, and assess growth based solely on that child's starting point.
Math is taught not only via paper-based algorithm work but also through literature and manipulatives. Reading is honed by all reading the same books and discussing them in groups and through drawing and journaling but also by allowing each child to choose the works that immediately excite them as well as requiring kids to read a book of their choice in several different genres.
There is art and science and laughter and play. There is regular P.E. and recess and both Spanish and Mandarin and both chorus and music. There are planners and lessons on time management and community involvement and service work. There is time for creativity and dreaming. There is a profound respect for childhood that pervades the campus and the curriculum, and I am inordinately grateful.