Well, another Thanksgiving has come, and gone, and like its sister holidays Christmas and Easter, we’re left in the aftermath wondering if we got the meaning right. The commercialism of Christmas has hit with both uncertainty over our spending habits (it’s amazing that the idea of consumers being ‘careful’ with their money is perceived as a negative) and with tragedy in one mall where a man was trampled by overzealous shoppers in New Jersey. So much in our house has gone on leading up to today, that I probably will only remember by reviewing in reverse, so please forgive the time lapses in my explanations.
We spent our Thanksgiving in West Palm with Miki’s family and their friends, including 4 new members of the canine variety… the dogs were more into sleeping than celebrating for the most part. Granddad flew in from Chicago, making the Hosang (my wife’s side) brood complete for the first time in a while. The eldest Hosang is still working on getting a full pension from his original job in Illinois, so the family essentially lives in two separate states. The spread was totally overkill, as usual. Entire villages in the Caribbean could have been satisfied by the amount of food served. But the fellowship was wonderful, Marcus said grace like a seasoned deacon, dominoes were slapped around, and we spent the evening dancing to reggae, watching as Grandma Faith dragged each and every family member, willing or not, to the family room to sway to Marley and Beres, among other artists I’ll never be able to pronounce. Marcus pronounced it the “best Jamaican Thanksgiving ever”, and given my limited experience, I’d have to agree with him.
The last weeks before the holiday were eventful with the kids’ activities – finishing up enrichment with a gala homeschool performance was doubly busy because my group piano class participated for the first time. Setting up 7 keyboards in 5 minutes was a minor miracle – then having my littlest student forget her music and cry throughout the piece created a sideshow of pity while my other students placed reasonably well. Naomi did her baton twirling routine – tallest of 4 girls, she had no problem with the under-the-leg tricks due to the extra – long length of her legs. Perhaps now she’ll stop being so self conscious about her height… or at least realize there are benefits. Marcus was showcased in public speaking – though his lines were slightly overcast by the laughter from previous one-liners from his co-horts, he nevertheless displayed the same confidence he always has in front of crowds. Mind you, this same child freaked out when we told him to knock on a neighbor’s door to check if his friend was home. Our children’s strengths and foibles continue to defy explanation.
Just before this home school exhibition, I had raced the kids from a mock trial experience within South Dade Courthouse, where Marcus played – you guess it – defense attorney. Our co-op moms, led by Ms. Angela, set up “The State vs. Goldilocks” where the three bears and Goldilocks are put up on the stand. It was a marvelous opportunity for learning about the jury system, and both Naomi and Marcus met the judge, talked to real lawyers, and went on a tour of the courthouse. Of course, Naomi served on the jury that returned the guilty verdict against Marcus. I arrived just in time to see this last bit, as I was detained while completing the registration for the kids for next year. Hopefully I’ll see the video soon, but I simply had to grit my teeth and bear it as I missed this particular show of my kids’ talent. It’s a hard lesson, but I have to realize I can’t be there for everything (I totally commiserate with BusyDad – all parents go through the guilt of not being at that one event your child is dying for you to attend).
My oldest son has been continually engrossed in his twin loves – his girlfriend and his art. Not much problem with the latter, but the former… well, we have had to keep a little closer eye on his amorous pursuits. The fact that he is just learning to drive (I’ve starting letting him drive me to church – makes me that much more prayerful before arriving) is some comfort in knowing that he doesn’t have unsupervised time, but it is still unnerving to know our once star-eyed innocent is now thinking he is the Romeo to some 14 year old’s Shakespearean fantasy (or worse, some R.Kelly video’s unholy aim). The question is: does further restriction of the IM’s and the texting drive him farther into secrecy and attempts at a physical relationship, or is simply ‘the talk’ enough to keep anything from happening? No answers here – this is my first time around, and Lord knows I can’t glean much from my teenage years except how much the teen boy’s head is controlled by the honey-glazed words and glances of the opposite sex. Much prayer.
Now that November has passed, I’m faced with the next homeschooling issue- keep formal lessons going through December or take a break? My wife’s dad is in town, giving us the possibility of letting the kids have a week with the grands…(if they consent), but I must admit the prospect of non-structured days still bothers me. Even today, with us sleeping til noon, playing a cut-throat game of Monopoly, and Miki and I having some much needed couple time, I felt the busyness urge breathing down my neck. I’m afraid I’m still constantly anxious that we’re missing something – that every moment must be filled with some activity, some family bonding, a trip here or there – when in actuality all the activities I described earlier necessitate days like this where NOTHING is happening. I’m guessing it’s mostly Dads that get into this addiction to structure. Can’t say I know how to beat it, except to detail my effort today. Each moment I thought about the nice day outside and how I was wasting it, I tried to remind myself that the basis of our family time is not where we spend it, but that we spend it together. I’m still wonder if I’m not leading the activities enough, or if I should be integrating myself into their world more often- video games and Disney Channel, subjecting myself to more Hannah Montana and Naurto. But when I peeked into Naomi’s room and she gave me the computer – induced glazed look, I knew I had to do something. So we ran into a packed Coldstone Creamery and discussed Jonas Brothers, cake decorating and what kind of Christmas tree we should get this year, until she collected her Cotton Candy and marshmallow waffle cone and we headed home. The entire trip lasted only about twenty minutes. But she was smiling the whole time. She was with her dad. I guess that means something, no matter where we were.
So now we move on to December, looking forward and looking back. I definitely look forward to making this area even more topically revelant to dads’ issues, but at the same time I remember advice from my Twitter friend Principled from Principled Discovery – when you homeschool, life IS topical. Hope something in our lives has resonated with yours. Much more to talk about later. Until then,
Looking unto the hills,