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  • No School, But Still A Lesson

    January 20, 2009

    Did you know that yesterday was a holiday? And that there was NO school?

    Well, I didn’t. Until I showed up at Jennifer’s house to pick up her child to take to school. After I rang her doorbell several times, she opened the door in pretty PJs and her hair all (sigh) askew in a really cute and fabulous way and  looked at me like I was from Mars (where school is in session!)

    Yes, it was on my calendar in big black Sharpie letters – NO SCHOOL! – but I seem to have trouble operating a calendar. Too many moving parts.

    Several not-that-great things about this situation: 1) I got dressed and put on make up for no reason. Dude asks me why I bother to do that just to drive the kids to school and I tell him because if I don’t, the next logical step is going to Wal-Mart in my pajamas and slippers, so it’s a preventative measure.  2) I woke, fed and dressed my sleeping child for no reason and 3) I had a really pressing matter to attend to and now I had a really pressing child to attend to and the two pressing matters were not compatible.

    So Sean and I went back home with his little lunch box and my dream of working on a very pressing matter and we put both in the fridge for the next day.

    Let me be honest here. When Jennifer answered the door and informed me that there was no school (and didn’t even flare her nostrils!) I didn’t not leap off the ground and punch the air with my fist and shout “Yes!”   In fact, I may have dropped my chin to my chest and mumbled something under my breath, something more or less like “Crud!”

    This was not how I envisioned spending my day.

    So yesterday, the pressing matter went unattended while Sean and I set up an art studio in the kitchen and painted all kinds of pictures.

    Sean really is a pretty good little artist, but his conceptual skills are somewhat ahead of his abilities, so sometimes he miscalculates how much space he will need for the composition he has in mind, which is typical for a 5-year-old.  And this is very frustrating for him.

    At one point, after painting one little circle on the paper, he sighed loudly and huffed and asked for another piece of paper.  And being the mean mom I am, I said no and told him to turn the paper over.  With an elaborate expression of discontent and duress, he turned the paper over, drew another little circle somewhere in middle of the paper and huffed and sighed again and stated that he realllly needed another piece of paper.

    I told him that in art, as in life, you can’t just get a new piece of paper when something doesn’t work out the way you envisioned it.  I told him that his job as an artist was to re-think the composition, to accept the challenge of seeing what he could do with that misplaced circle. I told him that often mistakes are opportunities for something wonderful to come into your life that you had not planned on.

    Like spending the day painting pictures with your five-year-old.


    1. Theresa says:

      I sort of had one of those days, too. However, I did ask for it. I asked to keep my grandson, David Riley overnight Sunday since he didn’t have school. We woke up and baked muffins (3 different varieties) and then proceeded to play the rest of the day. When I tried to wash dishes, “Nana, can we set up Hot Wheels on the dining room table?” When I tried to get some mending done, “Nana, why don’t you come sit and read with me?”

      I finally gave up the reality of life and let myself have a play day!

      January 20th, 2009 at 9:57 am

    2. Megan@SortaCrunchy says:

      Ahhhhhhh. Brilliant connection, mama. I’ve been needing to rethink my compositions a lot lately, so this is great encouragement.

      January 20th, 2009 at 9:59 am

    3. Shelly W. says:

      Oh boy, can I empathize with that! We are on day SIX of my kids being home, and, frankly, I’m ready for them to go back to school. Last Thursday and Friday they cancelled school because of the extremely cold temperatures. Saturday and Sunday were a normal weekend, obviously. Yesterday was MLK day, and today is a teacher’s work day. Come on already! This six day weekend is about four days too long.

      January 20th, 2009 at 10:00 am

    4. Sarah at themommylogues says:

      We actually had school yesterday. I think we might be the only district in the nation that has school on MLK day. But it was a good thing, because like Shelly, we’d been out much of last week due to cold. And the 5 yr old & 3 yr old just couldn’t spend much more time together.

      January 20th, 2009 at 10:39 am

    5. MM says:

      Wow…isn’t this the truth! A friend of mine, who is a bit of a hippie throwback always says, “Go with the flow, man”, while he sips his chai tea and puffs on a cigarette (of which I’m not convinced is legal.) I think if he were any more laid back, he’d be dead. LOL! But while it’s something I tease him about, your story makes me realize that there is some wisdom to his advice. Going with the flow, means having the ability to adapt to whatever obstacle has been placed in your path. You can go around it, over it, under it, whatever…but it’s not to stay an obstacle of which ruins your day and attitude.

      Hmm. I think I’ve found my new mantra.

      Go with the flow.

      January 20th, 2009 at 10:39 am

    6. AliAnn says:

      Funny, how the things we teach our children, the things we think they so obviously need to learn, are often the very same lessons we need to learn ourselves. I’m finding this more and more.
      Thanks for sharing.

      January 20th, 2009 at 10:40 am

    7. Beverlydru says:

      I want a new piece of paper.

      January 20th, 2009 at 11:32 am

    8. ruth ann says:

      My husband has warned me – if I mess up and send him off with the kids for a third time this year when there is, in fact, no school – I’ll be the one driving every morning! EEK!

      Oh – to be able to use a calendar! I wonder if they’re teaching our kids that skill in school these days?

      January 20th, 2009 at 11:44 am

    9. zoom says:

      Excellent lesson.

      January 20th, 2009 at 12:00 pm

    10. rrmama says:

      Great lesson. And maybe you could frame his picture and hang it up. Then he would know while he thought it was a mistake, you thought it was beautiful!

      Oh yes, we hang up all the pictures. It’s nice to have your own gallery right in your house. ~ AM

      January 20th, 2009 at 12:05 pm

    11. Jenni says:

      Fabulous metaphor, AM. I’m now musing upon the fact that what I would like to make out of my piece of paper is something Monet-ish, but it’s looking more Pollock-ish by the day.

      You know what’s REALLY confusing…when you have two different calendars with the same event written on each one, but on different days. I think I have an evil twin out there who is bent on my destruction.

      January 20th, 2009 at 12:06 pm

    12. Bee says:

      What a wonderful lesson. I’m pretty sure I’m not getting a new piece of paper, so I’m just going to see if I can do something fabulous with my little circle!

      January 20th, 2009 at 12:07 pm

    13. Gretchen says:

      If I’m still cooking, cleaning, doing laundry and correcting children, it’s not really a holiday, is it? 😉

      My kids’ wonderful art teacher used to tell them, “make your mistake great”.

      Lurve that.

      January 20th, 2009 at 12:13 pm

    14. Roxanne says:

      You rock. Really.

      January 20th, 2009 at 12:27 pm

    15. Traci Best says:

      That was a life lesson, not just an art lesson! Who said there wasn’t school yesterday?

      Traci 🙂

      January 20th, 2009 at 3:39 pm

    16. tami says:

      When Sean gets just a tiny bit older there’s NO WAY he’ll let you drag him off to school on accident! Nope – even though my kids LOVE their school, they REMEMBER the occasional “day to sleep in” when it comes along!!

      January 20th, 2009 at 5:36 pm

    17. Jean Stockdale says:

      Great post. All of us can relate to missing deadlines and dates! Blessings.

      January 20th, 2009 at 11:08 pm

    18. mimi says:

      I knew you would turn this into a good lesson! Love it!

      January 20th, 2009 at 11:27 pm

    19. Quirky says:

      Your days always sound like so much fun. I wish I could paint in the kitchen with Sean.

      January 20th, 2009 at 11:48 pm

    20. Steffj89 says:

      We had school yesterday…most of these lil rural schools around here did. Not sure if thats good or bad, but thought it interesting my 5 y/o came home today telling me about pocahontas and hobama and a big white house??
      am curious how they got linked in his head but picking his brain is like picking burrs off a dog who rolled in a whole patch of them…no matter how many questions I ask the story will not get any clearer.

      January 21st, 2009 at 2:00 am

    21. Kay says:

      That is so funny! I took my daughter to school one day WHEN THERE WAS NO SCHOOL when she was in kindergarten. (glad I’m not the only that’s happened to! LOL) I started paying attention to the calendar after that!

      January 21st, 2009 at 10:26 am

    22. Julia says:

      Love it! You did great today – thanks for sharing with us at our MOPS group!

      January 21st, 2009 at 2:35 pm

    23. tom says:

      Michael’s Mommy sez: “We’ve all done that. You’re in good company.”

      January 21st, 2009 at 2:36 pm

    24. Jen Patterson says:

      You were such a wonderful speaker at MOPS today! Your message was so inspiring : )

      January 21st, 2009 at 2:43 pm

    25. Faerylandmom says:



      January 21st, 2009 at 6:14 pm

    26. Pam says:

      When my son was in grade school I took him over to a friends house to spend the night. He went up to the door with his back pack and sleeping bag. Guess what? It was the next day he was suppose to be there, I felt so dumb…he was old enough to be embarrassed too. I bet he does not remember that now at age 31. I should ask him…

      January 21st, 2009 at 9:31 pm

    27. Rhonda says:

      Oh my. What a morning. Too funny.

      Great post.

      January 21st, 2009 at 10:16 pm

    28. Diamond Girl says:

      When something special comes along grab hold and don’t let go. My sons actually wanted to go to school on Saturdays, some teachers go above and beyond if given the chance to and having willing, wanting learners what a blessing. The teachers did teach those that came to school on Saturday, the kids loved the specialness and different rules, they were more relaxed, therefore they could learn on their own terms. I wish education was a priority in our country, maybe someday it will be, we do educated all people with out exclusion. What could be more pressing than a circle, the circle of life. When my child ran out of art paper or any paper he used our walls as his canvas we have some great art going on here, when walls become murals they(children) can do so much, when given the opportunity.

      January 22nd, 2009 at 1:05 am

    29. Nette says:

      Oh my gosh. What you told him about art and how the mistakes can become opportunities. Brilliant, in a word.

      January 22nd, 2009 at 1:46 pm

    30. Jenn @ Casa de Castro says:

      I’m on vacation from work this week, and I still can’t stop jumping out of bed at the “appointed time” to start getting ready for work, only to realize I’m not going! Routine and habits. Hard to break!

      Hope you and Sean had a fun day.

      January 22nd, 2009 at 5:12 pm

    31. Narelle Nettelbeck says:

      That is a really great lesson for our kids to learn. My son shows unbelievable determination to try at a task until he is able to do it – like riding without training wheels.

      Thanks for the reminder 🙂

      January 23rd, 2009 at 6:23 am

    32. Kelly @ Love Well says:

      This is your great gift as a writer, AM. The ability to perfectly retell a story, then twist it at the end to make it a lesson.

      I think your moral here is one that’s critical to parenting (and it’s one of my life themes): Attitude is everything. If I can teach my kids to reframe bad circumstances and trust God, no matter what He’s doing, I will feel I’ve largely succeeded as a parent.

      January 24th, 2009 at 12:19 am

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