Saturday, January 23, 2010

Local housewives make startling new Discovery

It was a Thursday which means the kids had a "home" school day. What does this mean? Well, it means that the kids had homework to do. My youngest, who is in kindergarten, has about 2 hours of homework. Things like naming and coloring the oceans on a map, practice writing the letter "C", and some simple adding and subtracting. Nothing that will earn her a Nobel Peace Prize or scholarship to Harvard (yet), just the basics. We usually wrap her homework up first as she gets most of my early morning time.

My oldest, in second grade, is multiplying, writing a 3 paragraph essay, doing some reading comprehension and a little Roman history. Luckily he reads pretty good, or is it well, anyway he doesn't need a lot of my time as he can read the instructions himself and he's bright enough to figure it out on his own. But I do help him put the finishing touches on a few of the more taxing assignments before we're done with our school day.

The night before, I made sure to remind them of the "home" school day rules - which is essentially, no television or computer time. I also tried something new just to see if they'd go along. You see I've learned since being home, that I have opportunities to instill new habits with my children. I simply say something like, "when Mom was home you did it this way, but now I'm home, so we're going to try it this other way." Sometimes it works and other times I discover why Mom did it her way! But this time I told them I had put their homework sheets on the kitchen table, so when they woke up, they could start in on them right away. So if they woke up before I did, they'd have something to do besides tearing up the house.

Well, I woke up the next morning and all was quiet. I was thinking my kids were still asleep, so I got up and started to get ready for the day. Then my daughter comes up to me and asks me a question about breakfast. I figured she had just got out of bed hungry. So I strolled into the kitchen with her and to my surprise, there were completed homework sheets on the kitchen table and my son was "taking a break" and playing with his Lego's. I couldn't have been prouder of my kids and I gave them whatever they wanted for breakfast. They could have asked for chocolate cake and ice cream and I think I would have given it to them. I realized then, that if I set the expectation, there's a chance they may actually hit it. Hey, I'm a realist and I know it won't happen all the time. But if you never set it to begin with, then you're cheating your kids the opportunity to learn and grow.

Needless to say, they got their homework done in record time that day, so we went for a walk in our neighborhood, after all, it was a sunny 75 degree day here in Dallas. The kids were excited to get out of the house and we had a great walk. We ended up in a neighborhood park, all set with playground equipment and gazebo. As we entered the playground area, we could see it was full of toddlers with their moms. Yep, not a Dad in sight. For some reason, I get real nervous when I'm the only Dad around. I'm always afraid the Moms are threatened by my presence; like I'm some kind of a predator leering over my prey on the lower plains of the African Serengeti.

Anyway, I crept over to a far off picnic table. You know, like when a sheepdog is separating the weak animals in a herd. Meanwhile, the kids jumped in and started to crawl up the slides and did what comes naturally at a place like this. That's when it happened. I felt like all the Mom's eyes were judging me or trying to figure out our circumstance. I know it was just my imagination, but it seemed like they all knew I was a stay at home Dad. I started to feel like their gaze was set upon me, as if they were the first humans in history to see my kind of species. I started thinking that I had joined the ranks of Sasquatch or the Loch Ness Monster.

Eventually, my fears subsided and I was able to just focus on my kids rather than any possible judgement being handed my way. Finally it was time to leave and as we left, I thought to keep any eye out for others of my kind. Half way home I thought I had spotted a fellow home Dad! But as I looked closer, I could see he was only a distant kin to my species. You see, he was dressed in a business suit - no kids in sight.

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