Some people have a pathological fear of boredom.
I wouldn’t think I was one of those people. I like quiet: calm rooms with soft light; books and journals; the clicking of computer keys; extra cups of coffee; rain on the windows. In university, when they told me, “The life not contemplated is not worth living,” I believed them wholeheartedly.
Then I had 3 kids in 2 years. Then I took them all to the Sahara Desert, where on any given day you might or might not have electricity or be able to buy butter or be served goat intestines boiled without salt. So one might wonder if I don’t have some issues myself.
Given the chance to have a quiet year back in America, I leaped at it. I envisioned spending my mornings curled up on the couch staring out at those golden leaves and watching the rain fall while I wrote the Great American Travel Book.
Instead, we ended up home schooling. For those of you who have never tried it, it’s crazy and time-consuming. It takes up huge chunks of time. I sit next to Elliot and “teach” him Arabic (really we’re both learning; I speak some Hassiniya but this is classical Arabic, and we’re learning to read it too). Meanwhile, the twins, impatient with their questions, write them on paper airplanes and bombard me from the open upstairs hallway. We are barely into a semi-routine. We are behind in education musicale and arts plastiques. The twins have tests coming up in 8 subjects plus Spanish. (Yes, I’m teaching Spanish too. That’s even funnier than me teaching Arabic–at least I know a little Arabic. Before this, my only Spanish was casa, manana, and hasta la vista, baby! And I don‘t even know what that last bit means.)
So we decided to go to California for Thanksgiving, leave early so that this could be an extended visit with eager grandparents, and do school there. We can’t afford to take this time off, since we started our school year late.
Am I certifiable? I mean, what am I thinking?
My in-laws are great people, generous to a fault, welcoming, never ever taking my husband’s side over mine or making me feel less than a true daughter. But their house tends to be cluttered, in the sense that the pope tends to be Catholic. (Also, if I could ever manage to faithfully reproduce their interactions, I could make a million selling it as a screenplay. No one would believe they were for real. But that’s another story) There is no clear “workspace“ for the kids. My father-in-law watches TV from about 8 a.m. to about 9 p.m.–covering most prime school time hours. My children are very distracted by TV, in the sense that teenage boys are distracted by the presence of a supermodel.
Their curriculum is complete and extensive. Each subject has at least 2 workbooks, plus a cahier de broullion (notebook for them to do extra work in), plus a folder of the tests, plus they have to take oral exams and record their answers on audio cassette. It’s complicated, and you have do everything exactly so.
Nonetheless, we’re loading up the mini-van and taking off for sunnier climes. We’re packing roller blades and scooters for EPS (Physical Ed), swimsuits in a forlorn hope that we‘ll be able to use them (the in-laws don’t heat the pool), and, of course, stacks and stacks of French curriculum. In back-packs. With STRICT instructions NOT to spread it out all over the floor and lose bits of it under the tottering piles of old magazines and papers.
Yes, the chances of us leaving an absolutely essential workbook, say for Maths or Science De La Vie et De La Terre, underneath a chair are absolutely astronomical.
No the chances of finding said workbook left under a chair before, oh, April or May, are not good.
Yes I apparently do have a pathological fear of boredom.
And, another long car trip?
Yep. Another long car trip.
I thrive on stress.

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