Archive for February 2018

Like Catan   Leave a comment

Homeschooling my kids is like a game of Catan.

It came to me this morning because we were ready to start school fifteen minutes early.  What happened? I asked myself.  Normally I am running late and we never start when we mean to.  What did I do differently this time?

I wasn’t sure and I’m still not able to come up with a specific technique that made this bizarrity occur.

What I do know is that when I play Catan, I never feel that I am getting ahead building settlements and cities fast enough.  I’m always plotting how to block someone else’s road, so I can get the Longest Road card.  I look ahead as far as I can, listing what resources I need to do the next three things on my wish list.

A few turns later, when I calculate other people’s victory points, and mine, we are usually neck and neck and running about 7 or 8.  I keep strategizing.  It really gets moving.  My strategy is working and I am seeing results.

Then, just when I have enough cities to rake in the resources–somebody wins.  And the game is over.



Posted February 15, 2018 by swanatbagend in homeschooling, humor

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Just Faking It   2 comments

So yesterday was a homeschool day for our family.

Yesterday, that meant that I wrote the day’s work for each student up on the wipe-off board.  I read with both kids, which is a highlight and a fun time of day for me.  I often help with questions or math or whatever gets done in the morning.

Yesterday, we had an art teacher come to the house for an intro session with my high school senior so they could get to know each other and make a plan for what the weekly lessons will look like.

While they were talking my 8th grader and I went upstairs to get some work done.

That afternoon, he and I did a baking experiment together and rapidly found out why leavening is such a tasty thing.  Baking soda by itself is not appetizing, but the cupcakes that didn’t have it weren’t anything I would want to eat.

The senior helped me make fish tacos for dinner, as I’ve decided these two aren’t leaving the house without a modicum of kitchen experience.

The 8th grader learned how to do goulash the night before.

I think that covers it.

So, that sounds like a pretty good solid homeschool day, right?

I did pat myself on the back for it and wanted to brag about it on Facebook.  However, the rest of the story is that yesterday was probably the single most awesome day in my homeschooling career.  I’m coming up on eighteen years of experience, and I can assure you that most days have looked nothing like this.

I have been intending to teach the kids to cook by having them sous chef with me for literally years.

Usually I don’t do experiments.  I assign pages to read in a science book.

Usually we don’t have an art teacher coming to the house!  That is an exciting new development that just worked out this year.

I do read to them every day.  But I’m here to tell you it doesn’t usually look this wonderful.  It’s not pretty.  It’s just doing the next thing each day.

Ask me about the day the then preschooler threw something at me and knocked over the celery stalk/red food coloring experiment which then got all over people’s papers.  Ask me about how I never used to even get up on time so school started whenever I got my crap together.  Ask me about all the mornings I lit a candle in the den to just lighten the place up in January and February because I was so depressed I did not want to do anything.

Or better yet, ask them.  Yes.

Somehow they survived.  They are people rapidly approaching functional adulthood, in spite of me, not because of me.




Posted February 11, 2018 by swanatbagend in homeschooling, humor, motherhood, parenting

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We Are the Children of Tama   Leave a comment

At least I certainly am.  For years, I have quoted lines from books and movies where they seemed relevant, and for some reason, my children do the same.  Lots of laughs and more than that–it has become a unique language for our family.

So I always loved the Star Trek: Next Generation episode about the children of Tama.  They were a race encountered by the crew of the Enterprise that communicated entirely with literary allusions.  The crew was clueless in these interactions until after the leader of the Tama kidnapped Captain Picard so that they could experience the challenge of facing a foe together, thus building a relationship so they could understand each other.

At our house, you might hear allusions like this.  See if you can identify the movies.

Someone drops and breaks something or can’t finish a chore.  I say I will clean up the mess or cover the work: “I’m a compassionate insect.”

Some satisfying conclusion to a mess we were in: “Yes, Rico.  Ka-boom!”

Nobody knows what to do in an unfamiliar situation: “I have no memory of this place.”

Discussion of how I will respond if the kids take this or that action: “And then we have the screaming problem again…”

When departing from dear friends: “Have fun storming the castle!–It would take a miracle.”

And so forth.  There are plenty of other times when there’s less of an obvious context, where a phrase just fits the moment we’re in, or somehow reminds us of a past incident.  We get the context, however.  There are many lines we love that sum things up more perfectly than any analysis any one of us could give.  So, I just assumed other families quote movies, because like, why wouldn’t you?  It’s fun.  It’s succinct.  It gets a laugh.  It communicates.

It was only within the last couple of years that my reading about behaviors typical of people with autism led me to understand that this could be called echolalia.

Echolalia is defined as repeating speech or lines that have been heard.  If you look at the definition in some places, it appears the average person would see no context for the line that was repeated.  Based on our personal experience with our movie quotes, though, I really doubt that’s true.  Probably there is a context every time to the person on the spectrum; it’s just that the neurotypical can’t see it.

When we quote movies to each other, there is a context.  We are communicating.  It works beautifully.

I found out today that we aren’t the only ones.

In this New York Times essay, Ron Suskind relates how his son on the autism spectrum connected with an animated character from a movie, when he couldn’t communicate with anyone else.  Granted, in his situation his son had no other way to communicate for many years.  But for both families, utilizing other stories built connections in ways typical conversation was unable to do.

There’s communication going on here–if you can speak the language.

Posted February 7, 2018 by swanatbagend in autism

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