16 March 2012


Yesterday, I crashed.

We got up early to take the Small People to school, then The Boy and I stopped for breakfast at McD’s (the only food from McDonalds I will eat is breakfast … well, that and french fries), returned a pair of too-small jeans I’d picked up for him a few days ago in the faint hope they might fit, and headed into the city for student/parent/teacher interviews.

The Boy does virtual schooling – this means that he schools at home, but I don’t teach him. The school does all the teaching via online courses and printed correspondence materials and I just supervise. We do go and meet with his teachers a couple of times a year, and we are in the main office for exams and other activities once a month or so as well. On interview days, they always have other things going on to make it worth our while to go in … sometimes there is a craft activity, this year there was an aboriginal musician doing a drumming workshop. And they feed us, which is nice.

The Boy had a few issues with planning and scheduling his coursework earlier this year: the flexibility of the virtual school environment is a huge blessing, but it is also a big challenge. Brick-and-mortar schools tell you what to do when: the bell rings, time to get up and move to the next class, your assignment is due Thursday, no excuses … you don’t plan your life, you do what you are told. In the virtual school world, there are deadlines set – but you figure out how to get there from where you are. This is actually quite a complicated task, one many grownups aren’t all that good at, in fact, and as a parent, I think I had overestimated The Boy’s readiness to handle this. After reading up on teen brain development and realizing that the frontal cortex (where planning and decision making happen) isn’t actually *wired in place* at his age, I can now see why it was so hard for him! It’s not that he isn’t bright, he’s a very clever kid, but teenagers have what amounts to a neurological deficit that makes these particular tasks extremely difficult. He’ll grow into it – my job is to be the coach and help him practice the skills he’ll need, so that his brain learns these patterns while it is getting wired in … then when the wiring is all finished, these planning pathways will already be optimized. Fortunately, planning and tracking and documenting are all things I am pretty good at, having worked in project management in one way or another for much of my career.  :)

Still, that’s work for me (as well as for him). Planning, documenting your work (what we always called “CYA documentation” at the office), double checking that things actually worked the way you expected them to (i.e. just because you hit the save or submit button doesn’t guarantee that the file ended up where it was supposed to go, and it is actually up to you to confirm that it is where it needs to be), those kinds of things. Coaching him through it all has been educational for me as well as for him, I think. And stressful … for both of us.

Anyway, the interviews went well – the teachers and staff are very supportive of forward movement and incremental improvement, so it was encouraging to talk to them and to hear their support of the new approaches we’ve been trying out. There was a presentation on careers in the trades (The Boy wants to be an electrician, and he has the makings of an excellent one already, judging by the experiments and soldering projects he has done around here). The drumming workshop wasn’t really something I’d have travelled anywhere to see, but we had time to put in anyway and I always feel like the artists should at least have an audience after the trouble they’ve gone through to set things up. The drums were neat – hand made in northern Alberta of moose hide and wood.

With school meetings behind us, it was back to the Small People’s school to fetch them at the end of their day, a stop at the post office to mail a couple of books and pick up the bills (and a parcel from my parents!), then home, make dinner and …

… and I crashed.

I got dinner on the table for everyone, and when I sat down and looked at my plate, I couldn’t even eat. I had a glass of water, managed to stay through the meal, then went directly to bed. I didn’t even put my pyjamas on, I just got under the covers and lay there, contemplating the pain in my chest and the pounding in my head.

I dozed fitfully for awhile, then fell deeply asleep. I woke up at 9:30, uncomfortable with my skirt tangled around my legs, and finally put my jammies on. I got a glass of milk and talked to The Reluctant Farmer for a little bit, then went right back to bed and stayed there until morning.

It’s so hard to know when you are about to hit your limits … in fact, I often don’t realize it until I’ve gone way past them and collapse in a heap.

It’s hard. I want to feel guilty for being so weak, I want to say “good grief, girl, what is wrong with you that you can’t even handle the very quiet, very lazy-looking life you lead these days?”

Of course I know that this isn’t about the very quiet, very lazy-looking life I lead these days … this is about the sixteen years of chaos and grief and pain and stress and refusal to slow down and take care of myself that I lived through, and the very quiet, very lazy-looking life I lead these days is called recuperation.

So, I asked The Reluctant Farmer if he was able to modify his plans for today and do the morning drive-to-school that I had been scheduled for, and with a few tweaks to the plans, that worked out. I slept. I’m up now, slowly getting my feet under me and deciding how much I think I can handle today. I have some things that must be done today, including acupuncture and a drive to the food co-op, but the rest of the day can be modified.

I think it’s going to have to be pretty quiet. I’m still recuperating, after all.

1 comment:

  1. Anonymous7:53 pm

    Mom's can't always schedule all their time - I'm sorry it piled up on you. I don't know what a big fat fiber hug is, BUT I can send a fine quilting thread one!
    Love, Mom


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