I have a confession.
Actually I have several but I’m sure you’re not interested in hearing about the cupcakes I ate last night or the recurring dream about my dentist. The confession you’ll be most interested in relates to the promise I made to you in June. You know, the one where I said I would practice reading and writing with my oldest daughter, your student, every day this summer? Well that didn’t exactly happen, and here’s why.
First, you might remember that we adopted another little girl right at the end of the school year. Needless to say the adjustment was a bit overwhelming and what passed for routine at chez Millard quickly descended into chaos and anarchy. Structure and good intentions went out the window faster than you could say “stop throwing grapes at your sister.” Despite my best intentions to carve out daily reading and writing time, we were sidetracked by that pesky little thing called “life” (an umbrella term for stuff like cat vomit on the carpet and dog poop in the living room. Also Netflix). As we adjusted to being a family of four instead of three, practicing capital letters and figuring out what five fish plus two fish equals kind of fell by the wayside. Sorting out ownership of toys and clothes and planning for a summer getaway to promote family bonding (and day-drinking) took precedence over graduating to chapter books and two syllable words.
Even though you suggested many ways to “make learning fun”, I still failed you. To be fair, my daughter is now reading the back of the cereal box every morning and combing through the cupboards looking for words that are easy to sound out, such as “Jam” and “Tam-pon”. But the reading of the street signs? Bad idea. I’m certain I’ve caused at least three accidents by slamming on the brakes when screams of “I CAN’T SEE” assaulted me from the back seat. And helping with the grocery list? No offence, but if I had the patience to spell “carrots”, “wine” and “boxed brownies” out loud, not to mention a spare two hours to complete this exercise, I might-MIGHT-be less of an abject failure in both motherhood and culinary arts.
I didn’t stress too much about these first few weeks of summer because I was certain that once we got to the cottage we’d get the learning happening. Long lazy days with no plans and no urban distractions would be PERFECT for playing school, I thought. It will be a good opportunity for one-on-one time, I thought.
Except it seems that I miscalculated my willingness to sit inside spelling and adding while the sun shone outside. Also overestimated? My daughter’s desire to sit at the kitchen table instead of on the beach. I can’t sugar-coat this for you, Teacher. During the five weeks we’ve been here we didn’t open a single workbook or pick up a single pencil. Simply put, my daughter didn’t learn squat about reading and writing this summer.
However, if you’re willing to let us substitute “beach studies” and “welcoming a new sister” for reading and writing, I can proudly say that we’ve been racking up straight As in sand castle building, shellfish carcass identification, surfing, sea glass collecting and discreet ocean peeing. I’d also give us a solid B- in sharing a room, forcefully rehoming hermit crabs and personal hygiene (see ocean peeing). So while our book learning has suffered, our life learning has not, and I figure as long as I keep buying cereal, everything will be fine.