On Monday I took off for the Hamptons with Braeden, Shane, Tavia and Igwet in tow. I got a cheap flight that Kevin was supposed to be on with us, but of course he landed a Hallmark movie shooting in Toronto, so I had to go it alone with the kiddies.
It was an easy trip for us, with the only caveat being that we arrived at midnight in JFK, and taking the train to the car rental with three minors in that big city was a bit scary. I’m a chicken, what can I say?
We did some work on the plane, (I had Shane read a book to me before he was allowed to do math games on his Nintendo, and Braeden had some math as well,) but the following day we got down to brass tacks. Because I had to pack all the materials for our work, I knew the material well. Getting started was as easy as, well, leading a horse to water. Now I just had to get them to drink from the fountain of knowledge!
Their main incentive came in the form of an expansive beach a short walk from the house. For the next two weeks, I did schooling with the kids in the mornings and the afternoons I got some of my work done, we went to the beach, or visited with friends. Kevin arrived from Toronto, we had a visit from some family, and Kevin and I went into town to meet publishers for his (our) book. Suffice it to say that most of my business efforts would have been severely challenged without my home schooling efforts. (I don’t travel without the kids.)
As comparison, I flash back to our two weeks spent in Hawaii last spring, while Kevin was shooting “Soul Surfer.” He had been gone for two weeks by the time we got there, and the kids really miss him when he’s gone. I got all their schoolwork from their teachers, and I set us up on the dining table of the spacious condo that the production rented for us. But the kids fought me on getting it done. Braeden came up with some interesting stories about how much he was actually supposed to do. With me as teacher, those arguments are no longer viable. Shane often turned into a form of Jello. Then, eventually, when he finally realized there was no way to get what he wanted (to go swimming,) without giving me what I wanted (homework completed,) he would relent, and do all of it in a matter of minutes (none of it being very challenging, or very interesting!)
Now that it was my curriculum, and I was intimately knowledgeable on each subject, I knew what they needed to accomplish, and whether they had mastered the lesson. I also could grill them a bit when we were in the car, for instance. I made games of it, and the winner got to pick a treat, or the game, or the night-time book we read.
Our Hamptons trip became a sort of settling-in time for the home schooling. The kids were still reluctant, but I expected that. I remember trying to forge a new relationship with my grandmother, with whom I had kind of lost touch when I went off to college and started traveling the world in my modeling career. Once I settled in New York, and this was back in the day when phone calls could be quite expensive, I started calling her each Sunday. Initially, she was reluctant to talk, thinking, perhaps, that I was making a hollow gesture just for my own conscience. “Oh, Deary, now, you don’t own stock in ATT and this must be costing you a fortune,” she might say after a two-minute conversation. It took several weeks of me prodding her with questions just to keep her on the phone, before she began confiding in me about her everyday events and feelings. That is the stuff of real relationship: her bridge partner, who gave their hands away, or her own triumph with her roses. We then augmented the weekly calls to my visiting her often. I miss her today, and I’m so thankful I had the foresight to invest in a renewed connection in that way.
Well, though kids are much more open to creating relationship than eighty-year-old grandmas, they still must be taught how to manage one. Their understandable reluctance to do schooling is met with my velvet determination to overcome it, and my authentic enthusiasm in their improvement. Our home school environment is recalibrating our parent-child connection. In general, home schooling will provide the impetus to develop a strong bond between teacher and student, and it will take some patience before the student understands this new paradigm. But it is that bond which is, in part, my goal. I want an intimate relationship with my children, not to be a bystander, watching their lives unfold farther and farther away from me.
I realized, by the time we returned from our trip to the east coast, that essential, most desirable transformation had begun.