The Wild Garden. where life is cultivated and allowed to run free at the same time. Got it?
(Violet is obsessed with making this “doofy face” she saw in a Calvin and Hobbes comic)
That’s the name my people chose to give to our homeschool this year. Last year it was Wolf Moon Academy, which was chosen with lots of bickering and thwarting of one another’s ideas. They decided to change it up for this next school year, which meant new tees.
I used some nice organic baby rib from Organic Cotton Plus to make all four kids a tee. Two yards was more than enough to squeeze all of their tees out of, and I think they’re going to hold up really well over the year. Some baby rib is really thin, which can work well for some things. But, when you have a child who destroys clothes just by looking at them, you need sturdy if it’s going to last.
I had a really hard time choosing a color. Their striped baby rib is one of my favorite knits ever, but it’s actually not the greatest for adding a graphic to. The stripes show through. Still. It was hard not to just get it. I had to do some adulting for a moment and be practical.
Becoming older and gathering wisdom seems to be a process of letting go of the illusion of control over your life’s plans. To illustrate that point, let me lead you down the path that led to where we are at in life right now.
Last April, we had an Ash. A marvelous, affectionate, athletic, clingy, adventurous, wakeful, curious, fussy, giggly disruptor of productivity, quiet, and sleep. Just now I had to stop typing because I heard a commotion and found that he’d moved the tv and climbed up on the cabinet behind it.
Ash rarely naps. If he’s not getting into something he shouldn’t, eating markers and pencils, climbing onto tables, banging hard objects on windows, he’s the sweetest little koala bear clinging to my hip. The koala act usually happens right about when I’m trying to do something like make a meal or read to/do school with the kids.
Exhibit B. Hawthorne. He was the most helpful, cooperative little toddler and baby. A mother’s dream of a third child. But with the arrival of his baby brother also came the arrival of his inner asshole. So now he looks for ways to get attention. Like disrupting everything and trying to make everyone around him angry by pushing their particular buttons. He’s pretty masterful.
Violet and he are locked in a battle to the death most days.
Right this very minute Hawthorne is lording over Violet that he’s wearing her old jacket, and she’s screaming at him that mama made that for her and he can’t wear it. “TAKE IT OFF! STOP CONGRATULATING YOURSELF FOR TAKING IT!!” Then Clover shows up to beat on Hawthorne, which results in Ash being knocked off the couch arm onto the wood floor. Screaming. Lots of screaming.
This is the general flow of events when I attempt to do school. So I called school off early this year and just enjoyed spring with the kids. We’ve been outside a lot. My plan was to start school back up in July when it got too hot to play outside.
But now we’re going to be globetrotters for all of July, and I realize that my plans aren’t going to work out. So our extended formal school break is being stretched farther into the distance.
The thing about kids is that if you put them in an environment with opportunities to learn, they’ll learn.
So I’m opening my clenched hand and letting the homeschool mom guilt float away.
The older two spend a lot of the day doing this. Reading all the things. Or playing outside with their brother and collecting plants. Building things. Playing elaborate dress up and make believe.
Going to parks. The library. Talking to people on the walking path and at grocery stores. Taking ballet classes and going on co op field trips.
Producing giant piles of artwork. Writing stories. Running around in the herd of neighborhood kids.
Being free to be curious and weird.
After a week of kids camp at church, we take off for a month long road trip across the country and back. Too many years have passed since my feet have touched the Pacific Ocean and walked through my parent’s lives. We’re making this as epic and memorable as possible by taking our time on the drive and stopping at interesting places every day for 6 days.
Clover says she’s excited like Christmas is coming.
Lots of things can go wrong. Hopefully despite all of the hard parts, we come back changed in good ways and full of memories and stories that will stick for years.
Ash tends to cry a lot in the car. Violet is hyperactive. Clover and I get carsick. We’ll be shacking up in cheap hotel rooms for two weeks with four loud kids who wake up really early.
We’ll see Mount Rushmore on July 4. And send each other postcards home from the places we experience. Tour museums and zoos and local breweries. Take awesome pictures of us in front of signs in Butte. We can’t always be mature adults.
So here we are, on an extended school break. Not doing what I planned to do. Nor will school go as I plan when it happens again. We’re planning a trip that won’t go as planned either. I’m planning on it.
We’ll head across the country, picking up little bits from every place and adding them to ourselves, leaving a little of ourselves behind. Family will be waiting for us on the other end, ready to squeeze and soak all the love out of our visit they can. We’ll do our squeezing and soaking too. We’ll head back east with tears and leftover bits of sand and coffee shop receipts.
Ready to see more of the world. Ready to be home with our own beds and walls and doors and oven.
That old homesickness in my heart will be prodded and stoked and aching the whole way back.
Then we’ll pull up into our driveway with memories and souvenirs. Relief and sadness. A load of audiobooks heard, conversations with family, and places seen rattling around in our brains. And normal life will begin again. As normal as we feel like making it, anyway.
Fabric is from Organic Cotton Plus
Pattern is the Rowan Tee from Titchy Threads