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It’s been a spinny sort of month.

My eldest started Grade 2 and my youngest started Junior Kindergarten at the end of August.

Then the House of Commons came back in late September, which means my husband’s schedule gets busy again, so there’s more for me on the home front.

And my work and volunteer life picks up come fall too.

I’ve written before about the challenges my eldest has had with school.

I’ve also written about how we’ve been doing Kumon Math since July and how she’s been seeing a tutor weekly since last winter.

Add “20 minutes” of homework to the mix and evenings are, well, not awesome.

Then on top of that throw in Brownies with fall cookie sales; swimming lessons; the kids across the road who apparently never go inside; a bazillion emails from the school, now for two kids, about multiple forms to sign via the “simple” online system that gives blanket reminders until everyone fills them out (Dear school, FOR THE RECORD: you can take my kids on field trips, take their photo, let them use computers, take them to mass, and I SWEAR I won’t let them door-to-door canvass for the pledge-a-thon because they are too young and that we talked about the school’s “reward positive behaviour” vs “punish and discipline” approach so please LET ME BE DONE WITH FORMS); annual agenda fees; annual school fundraising pledge-a-thon where you don’t actually just tell me how much to give because you can’t – like – force me to donate – but instead imply there is an expected amount that I clearly need to figure out either through sly detective work or through activating the top-secret parental-phone-tree option; the annual drama over indoor vs outdoor shoes …

… and then there’s the fact that most of this in all its glorious nuance is happening in my second language because French school (yay French papa!) and so …

God bless Tuesday when my youngest came home with this:

Yup, that's a hand-tree. My youngest made it at the after-school program at the school.

Yup, that’s a hand-tree. My youngest made it at the after-school program at the school.

Ahhhh.

I’ve always loved the expression “You can’t see the forest for the trees”. In the busy of my life I recognize myself in the forest: marching to work, getting whatever’s thrown my way done by deadline, then jogging to make daycare pick-up just in time (good thing I work out because on certain days – like Tuesday – this really involves actual running to make deadline due to misaligned bus connections in downtown construction fun), in pace to some pounding soundtrack like Marilyn Manson’s “The Beautiful People” to keep me in seemingly necessary perpetual motion.

I don’t want you and I don’t need you;
Don’t bother to resist or I’ll beat you.
It’s not your fault that you’re always wrong.
The weak ones are there to justify the strong.

The beautiful people, the beautiful people;
It’s all relative to the size of your steeple.
You can’t see the forest for the trees;
You can’t smell your own shit on your knees.

Rather bluntly sums that up, yes? Life’s a contest. So stay focussed, and get ‘er done.

Marry that with my eldest’s constant school struggles and the nightly horror of homework and ….

… it’s that tree that breaks me.

The thought that if she doesn’t get this, I’m failing her.

Rational Me, gazing over the forest, knows she’ll likely get there in her own time.

The Fear Devil on my shoulder who keeps yanking me back into the thick of it, clearly thinks that view is wrong. He supports his arguments with three years of report cards and notes home from teachers pointing out the blatantly obvious in case I’m missing it, but which (to date) offer no solution or clear path forward.

And now there are two in school.

My second has been rather swept up in my eldest’s schedule.

She quietly Kumons with big sis because, well, she’s there anyway.

And regarding French – and the fact that the principal suggested we get her assessed for extra help at her kindergarten entrance interview last spring – for what it’s worth? She can now count and identify numbers to 50 in French.

My 4-year-old's Kumon math homework.

My 4-year-old’s Kumon math homework.

So them pommes.

Given I’m pretty sure few 4-year-olds really need to have that mastered, I’m considering sticking her in Kumon English reading (seeing we’re there anyway) instead of French Math (boo to Kumon not doing French reading and I’ve previously posted about the lack of French language additional support in my area) so she can learn to print her A-B-Cs.

That part of me motivated by the Fear Devil prays this will help the next three years with her not be a repeat of the last three with my eldest.

Rational Me ponders the insanity of putting a 4-year-old in any enrichment program.

Fear Devil counters that the school plus mom and dad alone obviously failed to teach any of those necessary skills to her older sister on any sort of timeline that aligned with the curriculum.

Rational Me suspects they are two different kids.

Fear Devil responds that I can’t know that.

In any event, Pragmatic Me will keep her in Kumon because we’re going anyway.

And Rational Me?

I love this tree.

hand_tree2016

In so doing, I choose to focus on this one line of Manson’s song to the exclusion of the ugly, fearful rest:

Hey you!
What do you see?
Something beautiful?
Something free?

He might not have it quite that way, but that’s what I choose to see.

And I want to nurture that.

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