(What's that title about? Check it out here.)
Our first day of school - official sit-down-at-the-kitchen-table-and-do-math kind of school - was going to be Tuesday, August 23. Our academic year starts on July 1, and I count "school" days in the summer when I feel our activities justify it, but we hadn't done too much this year. So I was all excited about actually starting school, until I realized that Eleanor and I would be waking up in a beach resort town that morning, and wouldn't be home till dinnertime. This Girl Scout event had been planned for months! How could I have forgotten it?
So I changed our first day to Wednesday, August 24. But early that morning I called the vet to describe some symptoms our dog was exhibiting and we were told to get him in; Eleanor went with me. That took about two hours; when we got home, I had to pull together chicken and rice for the bland diet he was prescribed. By the time that was all settled, it was too late to have a first day of school. We did spend some time looking over our new books, reacquainting ourselves with the old books, talking about routines and schedules and plans for the year. The kids read one chapter from their new science books, and answered the multiple choice questions at the end, so we did so something. But, it was not the school day I had envisioned.
So our real first day was moved to Thursday, August 25. It was going to be a half-day, since James had been invited to an event that afternoon. It is still summer, after all. But Eleanor was asked to babysit, and one of the people James does yard work for asked if he could mow before the storm hit. We like these opportunities for work and don't often turn them down. The kids learn some skills, provide help to our friends, and earn some money (or, sometimes, service hours). In between these activities the kids did some math and the first assignment in the writing curriculum - which involved no writing. But, again, they did something.
But, I still wanted a complete first day of school. Friday? But I'd already planned to take Eleanor to the hospital for her routine back x-ray. It was quiet there, but it still took longer than we'd expected. We still had to make our planned stop at Walmart for our Friday night pizza and a few other things. The whole town was there! That's why the hospital had been so quiet - everyone was stocking up in anticipation of the big storm. The aisles were crowded. The lines were long. James called while we were there to report sickness. He had been on antibiotics for bronchitis; the cough was gone but the medicine-induced nausea had hit. He was down for the day. OK! Where's the Gatorade?
Sometimes I wonder if my kids would be better off in school, where the distractions of vet visits, grocery shopping, and jobs don't get in the way. If they were in school, we'd have gone for the back x-ray late in the afternoon and disrupted dinner instead of a school day. I would have gone to the vet and to Walmart alone. The vet visit would have been more difficult - no one can comfort our dog quite like Eleanor can - and Walmart would have taken longer because I couldn't deploy a child to fetch something for me. James would be able to keep his mowing jobs, but Eleanor wouldn't have the babysitting opportunities she has now. Of course a child could still get sick and miss school.
But then I think about adult life; sometimes it seems like it's just one interruption after another, doesn't it? I don't think I know anyone who doesn't feel that way. We learn to adjust, change our routines, and get things done.
I just looked at the calendar for next week. It's mostly clear. We'll work on math, read history, complete our science labs, work on Scout merit badges, and write some compositions. We'll stay with our routines, mostly. But not completely, because next week is going to be sunny and hot, after the big rain this weekend. Grass will grow! Downed tree limbs might need to be cleared. Someone will need a babysitter.
So math might get done at 4 pm instead of 9 am sometimes. Or on Saturday morning instead of Friday afternoon. We might read history during lunch or after dinner.
Real life. It's what school's all about. Forget about the big first day; our school year has started.