Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Too Cool For (Home)School

For those of you who have stuck around during my rather lengthy hiatus...*

*Which I'd like to say was due to some major dramatic life event, but in truth I've been wallowing in a veritable mudbath of slack.

...you know that everyone in this blog -- with the notable exceptions of my husband, Norm, and myself -- has a pseudonym of some sort.  No, my sister's name isn't really Holly, and my ex husband's name isn't really Gil; although it fits him so much better than his real name that my family uses it pretty much exclusively at this point.*

*For those who don't know, "Gil" is short for "Massengil" because my ex is such a tremendous bag of douche.

As such, I have heretofore referred to my twin sons as 'M' and 'J'.  However, now that they are on the cusp of their fourteenth birthday, and proving to be every bit as self-aggrandizing and vainglorious as their mother, they have asked that I use their "real" names.  So...I give you my children:  Michael and Jack.

They're taller in person.

When Norm and I got married last year, we made the decision as a family to get the hell out the city and relocate to his little paradise by the sea.  So, kids in tow, we loaded our trailer, tossed the kayaks on top of the truck, packed up our things and we moved to Beverlyyyyyyy. . .*

*Hills, that is.  Movie stars.  Swimming pools. . .well, actually, no.  We're nowhere near Beverly Hills or its ilk, but I am never one to miss an arbitrary pop culture reference.

Part of our decision to relocate to a small town was to simplify, downsize, and finally put our money where our hippie mouths were and start living more organically; and part of it was so that I could "retire" and start homeschooling the short people, because frankly?  The public school system was chewing them up and spitting them out like a bulimic at Thanksgiving dinner.

"But, Jen,"  I hear you cry, "are you not an educator?  Did you not once work within the public school system?"   First of all, stop crying -- it's not pretty.  And secondly, I have no problem with public school.  Public school was the shit for me and continues to be so for myriad children, but there are some that just don't "fit" the common core mold and two of those aforementioned children just happen to be mine. 

Of course, homeschooling is not without its sui generis challenges; the first of which is that, while my short people are twins, they have dichotomous learning styles.  Michael has autism, so his curriculum is more aural/kinesthetic-based, and involves multiple repetitions and "sensory breaks" throughout the day, and Jack. . .well. . .Jack is brilliant.  I know every parent thinks their child is exceptional, but sweet Mother Mary in a mojito that kid is so freaking smart he makes Stephen Hawking look like a Kardashian after a quad-shot kamikaze.  So, keeping the J-Man challenged and encouraging him to use his mental powers for good requires Herculean effort on both my and Norm's part.  As such, we encourage him to research his passions with a healthy dose of independence, and shower the boy with learning opportunities at every turn.

This is Jack, teaching Mike DNA replication via an off-key rendition of Taylor Swift's "We Are Never Getting Back Together" and a crap ton of Legos.   See?  Brilliant.  But his taste in music sucks harder than an airline toilet.   Boy needs to work on that shit, yo.

For those who know, my graduate degree is in Special Education, so when it comes to teaching Michael, I've got it goin' on like Chaka Khan.  But Jack requires a slightly more gangsta touch, because despite his astronomically high IQ, the apple did not fall far from the smart-ass tree. . .may God have mercy on his soul.  To better elucidate my point, I would like to share with you some of the conversations Jack and I have had in relation to his education over the past few months.  Suffice to say, if there were ever any doubt that he was my son, ye may abandon that notion forthwith. . .

JACK ((reading Waiting for Godot)):  OK, so, Vladimir and Estragon are waiting for this guy who is going to "save" them and they're worried that he might "punish" them if they make him mad.  So, Godot is God. . .right?
ME:  Maybe.  Remember too, that they also offer Godot a "prayer" and "a vague supplication", so Beckett seems to be drawing a God-like parallel.
JACK:  But nobody knows for sure who Godot is, right?
ME:  Right.  It's never stated outright, so no one can really explain it.
JACK:  Like black holes. . .
ME:  Or Anne Hathaway's career. . .
JACK:  Or why bitches be trippin'. . .
ME:  Word.

ME:  Crystals -- like diamonds -- are formed when there is a combination of two elements: extreme heat, and extreme pressure.
JACK:  So, it's a collaboration, like David Bowie and Queen?
ME:  Well. . .yeah. . .pretty much.
JACK:  So diamonds are formed ((singing)) "Under pressure!  Do-do-do-doodoo-do-do...Do-do-do-doodoo-do-do...Under pressure...!"
ME:  Wait.  You're 13.  How do you even know who David Bowie and Queen ARE!?!?
JACK:  YouTube.  I like to kick it Old School.

ME:  What are you reading?
JACK:  The Man In the Iron Mask by Alexandre Dumas.
ME:  Ooh!  Well played!  I love that book -- kind of a 1660's "Parent Trap" meets "Orange Is The New Black".
JACK:  References I would most likely understand if we actually had a TV.
ME:  Hey, I grew up watching TV.  Am I not enough of a cautionary tale for you?  
JACK:  Fair point.   Hey, wait a minute. . .how do YOU know about "Orange Is The New Black"?
ME:  . . .
JACK:  Why must you raise me in a den of Netflix and LIES!?!?

ME:  Newton's First Law of Motion states that an object in motion will tend to stay in motion and an object at rest will tend to stay at rest.  If one object is balanced atop a moving object, and the moving object suddenly stops or turns, the balancing object will continue to travel forward at the original rate of speed.
JACK: So, it's like that time you left our Starbucks order on top of the car and when you stopped it flew forward and made a smoking hot mess all over the windshield?
ME: Well, yeah, but if I'd gone all 'Fast and Furious' and hit the brakes at 120 mph the lattes would have totally cleared the hood!
JACK:  Hashtag "driving goals".
MY FRIEND DREW: I can't wait for your explanation of the second law of thermodynamics.
ME:  Well, as it relates to displacement, I anticipate that it will involve the lyrics to Ludacris' "Move, Bitch, Get Out The Way".
DREW:  I would think Kendrick Lamar's "Backseat Freestyle" would be a better fit.  "Man, I got bitches, man I got bitches..."  Here, bitches represent disorder; the larger his fame, the mo' bitches.  Therefore, the whole of his life, growing ever more closed and rarified, tends irreversibly to maximal bitches, aka. entropy.
ME:  You realize that if you'd taught high school physics I probably wouldn't have skipped class every week to eat graham crackers and watch "Days Of Our Lives".
JACK:  Yes, you would have.
ME:  Yeah, probably.  Because. . .priorities.

ME:  Thanks for helping your brother study for his quiz, Jack.
JACK:  Sure!  Happy to help.
ME:  So, Mike; describe an Emperor Penguin.
MIKE:  They're the biggest.  And. . .they live in the Antarctic.
ME:  Good!  How about a Crested Penguin?
MIKE:  They have red beaks and yellow crests and they live in New Zealand.
ME:  Way to go!  How about an Adelie Penguin?
MIKE:  They're the ones that are 'rollin' in the deep'.
ME:  Seriously, J?
JACK:  C'mon, Mom.  It's not like I set fire to the rain or anything.
ME  ((sigh)):  Bless your soul, you've got your head in the clouds, you made a fool outta me and it's bringin' me down.
JACK:  The games we play, I will always win, always win.
ME:  Oh, I give up.  But. . .never mind, I'll find someone like you.
JACK:  Hello?
ME: . . .
JACK:  Hello from the outside.  
ME:  Well, at least I can say you tried.
JACK:  . . .To tell you I'm sorry, for breaking your heart.
MIKE:  Are we going to study penguins now?
JACK:  Rumor has it.

The good news is, despite his propensity to belabor a point, discuss Minecraft until I want to bludgeon myself with a cinder block, and turn every conversation into an episode of "Epic Rap Battles In History". . .*

*Which I totally let him watch.  Because...history.  Besides, watching William Shakespeare drop a sick beat on Dr. Seuss?  Magical.

. . .Jack is a kind tender-hearted, and joy-filled young man.  He cares for both his twin brother and grandfather, started a community action campaign to clean up our beaches, recently joined a children's movement to require labeling on all genetically modified foods sold in the U.S., and is currently helping his stepdad build a chicken coop and plant a vegetable garden. He is my sunny little man-child: at times erudite and austere, but perpetually ebullient and carefree.  The growth and maturity and strength of character we've seen since removing Jack (and Michael) from public school is astronomical -- as aforementioned, homeschool is not for everyone, but it IS for us.

As we speak, Jack is on the phone, discussing a collaborative project for the annual Science Olympiad.  If it involves ballistics, this conversation never happened.




Anonymous said...

Sounds like Hamilton (hamiltonbroadway (dot) com) will be a hit when you get to American History. I know if I were homeschooling it would be my core material!

Erica Burns said...

I'm glad you founda system that works for your family. Personally I think i'd go crazy trying to teach my own children..

Also, the penguin conversation- literally the best thing I read all day. And I've been reading a lot of internet this morning

makemineachardonnay said...

Oh how I've missed your verbage & banter. I'm quite familiar with your digs in Washington state, what a great move! It sounds like you've got this by the proverbial nutsack, as it were, good for you and your guys!

Jennifer Clark said...

Please convey my thanks to Jack for the Adele ear worm....

Anonymous said...

Glad you're back and having a blast from the looks of things :) You were missed.

Mandy said...

Jack has got serious game. Like. Serious. When the ladies find out about his winning combination of humor and intelligence. Well, I don't envy you and your shotgun.

Early on in our relationship Matt sent me a text from work about how they were all being trained on forklift operation and it was a bunch of shit. When I asked what he meant, he went on to say that he was "forklift certified" (okay...?) in two, TWO states, and this lady (the teacher) needed to know that her safety precautions were falling on deaf ears (because his workplace wasn't exactly "safety minded"). So I responded with "Such a little shit stirrer. Tell me, when stirring the pot, is it clockwise or counterclockwise?" To which he immediately replied "Clockwise. Always clockwise."

I am currently trying to have his baby.* Because being able to zing back like that? Priceless.

* For any conservatives out there, we are married**

** no offense meant to any of those who have kids and aren't married to their baby daddy***

***no offense meant by the term "baby daddy"****

**** totally forgot which crowd I was talking to; please disregard all disclaimers.

Sars! said...

I have missed you so much! We've both made our way back and it' sabot damn time. I'm proud of you. I have a heart boner right now and Ima go take care of it.