On Tuesday, I took a mental health day and went to office.
I felt guilty, of course, for abandoning my children at home to two helpers and a husband, but after eight days of being a stay at home mom – albeit one with the full load of office work – I was ready to bolt.
I feel like those famous Japanese men who are bereft when they have to retire. I need to go to the office as silly as it sounds. I need to space out on the MTR. I need my two screens and desk and office coffee mug. I need to make polite chatter with my colleagues and go out to lunch. I need to need to dress up.
Two things I learnt this week:
1. Apropos the above, I’m not an extended work from home person
2. Homeschooling is better than school:
After disappointing results of an entrance tests in Bangalore and a not-so-great parent-teacher meeting, we realised we have to take matters into our own hands. I’ve been functioning under the illusion that having carefully selected a school, paying quite a steep price, I would leave the teachers to do what they presumably know best. So if this means, no homework, so be it. Heck, no homework is what I think education should be, in an ideal world.
The problem, I discovered, is that no homework and no textbooks coming home on weekends means that you have no idea what your kid is up to at school, what they are learning and how they are doing, until two months into the term when you meet their teacher and he says, “er, not so great.”
And you realise you need to do something, and again the teachers are not much help. For example, I have known for a while that Mimi is atrocious at spelling but all of last year her teacher told me not to worry. Now, her teacher says, worry, but not how I can help her.
Thankfully, the internet exists, though it turns out there are a lot more resources for teaching pre-schoolers spelling than kids in grade three. So I’m having to invent my own method and I’m actually having some success.
It feels a bit like groundhog month because I went through this in their final year of kindergarten when I realised the much vaunted Jolly Phonics was quite ineffective in teaching my kids to read (and now I recall that epiphany was prompted by the need to do primary school entrance interviews, so I guess I never learn). Finally, the internet, common sense and some kind people here who suggested Starfall helped me get them on the right track, and now I’m wondering again, what the point of expensive schooling is when I end up doing the groundwork?
But so it is. This episode has taught me that I need to tiger parent it up a bit and teach my kids at home. My ideal would be reinforcing what they’re doing at school, but that’s only possible if the teachers cooperate and send their books home on weekends (Mimi’s teacher has agreed to, I’m still waiting for a response from Nene’s).
In the meantime, we took the opportunity of the kids being home a whole week to print out worksheets and basically drill them. Again I knew this, but they forget everything over the holidays, so there was a lot of refreshing of basics to do.
Thankfully, there’s a fair bit of free material available online, but it needs to be sifted through and because I’m not a professional teacher, I’m not sure what to teach when.
Unfortunately, V and I have sort of fallen into the gendered daddy is the math person, mommy is the English person and even more unfortunately both my kids prefer maths but it is what it is.
Onwards and upwards.
But by day eight of this I was exhausted (and the kids insisted they don’t do this much work at school, even though they were essentially doing just three hours or so put together, while they spend six hours at school) and after losing it on Mimi for refusing to take a bath, I decided I needed to get out and “adult” again.
So I fled, took the MTR, schlepped to my own desk and breathed a sigh of relief.
The next day, there was transport chaos again, and I found myself working from home, but sometimes all you need for your mental health is a day at the office.