Friday, December 21, 2007

Homeschooling Playdate

Yesterday, we went on a homeschooling playdate. When it was in the planning stages, before I could stop myself, I volunteered to bring an art lesson to share. How ill-advised was that, in these crazy-busy days? While I was reprimanding myself for over-committing, I was also enjoying putting the lesson together.

I brought along an adorable snowman friendship story illustrated with textured, white glitter. It happened to be our favorite pick from last week's library visit. Following the reading, I planned to have the children create their own snowman pictures using various craft supplies: felt pieces for hats and scarves, buttons, pom poms, orange paper for carrots, white glitter to match the illustrations, popsicle sticks for arms, googly eyes, and exquisite, tiny, pre-cut snowflakes for the background. Can't you just see the adorable finished projects in your head? I sure could.

I had never met any of these ladies or their sons (yes, happened to be an all-boy playdate), so keep in mind that I was hoping we could make a reasonably good impression, to set the stage for an on-going friendship. There was an hour-long get acquainted time, after which we decided to start the lesson.

Leading up to the lesson, my boys learned that Ryan, the boy who lived there, had video games in his bedroom. We don't have any of those, by choice, so of course my boys were very curious and anxious to play them. They became single-minded and distracted, in the worst way.

At the same time, Emily, my 12-month-old, was ready for her afternoon nap and got fussy - considerably fussy. I was trying to hold her squirmy body while helping my own boys, almost six and four, with an involved art project, for which they had no interest (even though, I must add, they begged me to buy art glitter for weeks). Enter migraine.

The other three boys at the play date created, with their respective, calm moms, wonderfully imaginative, frame-worthy snowman scenes. My boys? Trust me, their pictures were both forgettable, and their behavior whiny. Enter throbbing migraine.

One of the ladies, a mom with an only child, proceeded to take advantage of my angst by rattling on about how FOCUSED, DETAILED-ORIENTED and smart her son was. I managed to keep nodding and smiling, never interjecting anything in my sons' or my defence, even though Timmy, my four-year-old, happened to be more academically advanced than her five-year-old, judging from her description. I kept my mouth shut; I simply have no interest in competing.

This same braggy woman, after another mom revealed that she is trying to conceive again (with difficulty), felt compelled to tell us how she got pregnant while on birth control. Needless to say, my heart really went out to the mom who revealed more than she probably wanted. I noticed she left shortly after this, presumably to get to her son's speech appointment. She was a kind soul, and I regret not getting her phone number.

Even five years previously, I would have dismissed this braggy woman, and all thought of seeing her again, entirely. However, at forty-one, I can look back and remember that I wasn't always this secure.

After I arrived home, got Emily nursed and into bed, swallowed Excedrin for my headache, and dismissed my annoyance at the boys' sloppy projects, I was ready to consider the woman's age, thirty-four, and assume that she hadn't had sufficient time to become comfortable in her own skin. Building herself or her son up was probably a manifestation of insecurity.

Note to self: Maybe being an older mother has its advantages, after all. Of course, that sentiment will probably only last until the first time somebody refers to me as Emily's grandmother. Yikes!

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