I know it’s very British to talk about the weather, but we really have been so lucky to have had such a sunny lockdown. Which makes it all the more difficult when homeschool on a rainy day comes along. We have had two or three of these days in the last 13 weeks, and they have all gone a little something like this.
Early morning: 8 year old attempts to pre-order a Fortnite slot. “Mum, it’s raining! Does this mean we don’t have to walk the dog this afternoon, and we can stay in and play Fortnite?”
“No, you will be coming too. Even if it’s pouring. Because that’s what you do when you have a pet – remember having this discussion when we got him?” Reply: grunt.
Mid morning: “Mum, I’ve done my maths – can I have a break?”
“Yes, but no tablets and no Fortnite. Find something –“
I think no more about it, until sopping wet dog charges back into the sitting room and zooms about all over the carpet, while muddy boys drop all sodden, filthy outerwear at the back door.
“I thought you didn’t want to go out in the rain?! Look at the state of the dog – and your clothes – and the carpet!”
All goes quiet. I set about cleaning up dog and carpet, remember 15 minutes later that I should have sorted something educational for them to do next. I go hunting for very quiet children, which can usually mean only one thing – glued to their tablets.
“What are you doing? I said ‘no tablets’!”
“You said no tablets in the break. You didn’t say we couldn’t use them after the break.”
Flippant, but accurate. “Well, turn them off please – it’s time to do some English. It’s fronted adverbials now.”
“Noooooo! So boooooring! Can I please do something else? Pleeaase?”
Well, I care very little for this ridiculous, regimented, rigid English curriculum that teachers are forced to inflict upon creative little minds, so I take little persuading. “Fine. But you do need to do some writing. Write me a story, about anything you like, but it has to be more than five sentences.”
Grim faces, until inspiration strikes. I make for the kitchen to put all the muddy things in to wash. A surprisingly good amount of time later: “Fiiiin-iiiiished!”
The writing chairs are empty when I go back in, but there are two pages of writing left on the table. Two six-sentence pieces about the delights of Fortnite, its various characters, and the friends they intend to team up with later. A heavy hint, if ever I read one – but at least it’s actually got them writing more than: “I liked this book. It was good.” There are even a couple of fronted adverbials in there (I think).
Three o’clock approaches, that golden time when the boys know they are released from school, and I am released from the guilt of not filling every minute with some edifying activity, which they will most likely refuse to do. It’s still raining….so I dive into my laptop, and the boys dive into their consoles.
4pm, and Mr RLC Words finishes work and comes to see what we’re all up to. “Who’s walking today?” The boys feign deafness. The daily family walk lost its sheen for them some weeks back, on a dry day – never mind a rainy one. I peer up desperately from the middle of my train of thought. “I’m sorry – they’ve not been out to play all day because of the rain, and I haven’t had any other time to get into this…”
“No worries – boys, coats and wellies please! Off we go…”
Silence. It’s beautiful. I can deal with the wet and muddy fallout when it happens later, but for now…writing. The job I know I can do, instead of the all-day homeschooling job that I’m only half convinced I’m doing right.
There’s a slightly troubling double standard at play here, having insisted that they leave off doing what they love to go out in the rain, while I stay at home and write…but it’s work, so it’s not the same thing. Not the same thing at all…