Sometimes I forget Puppy’s only four.
She turns five next week. But still… It’s the things she says and does.
This Tuesday I woke up grumpy, having had a rough night. Let’s see, having to change Lamb’s nappies and pajama bottoms. Comforting Puppy after a bad dream. Breastfeeding Piglet for how many times I can’t remember. Then negotiating bedspace after Puppy and Lamb climbed into my bed because they “missed” me. Where was Papa in all this? Sleeping on the couch downstairs with the early anticipation of being nudged out of bed by Lamb.
So that morning, I sat up and pronounced that I was going to sleep all day. “You kids can take care of yourselves. Play by yourselves. Feed yourselves.”
Of course I wasn’t serious. How could I be? Lamb’s only two-and-a-half, I’m homeschooling him and Puppy, there are meals to cook, laundry to do and the house to clean. Not to mention nursing 11-week old Piglet and changing his nappies.
But Puppy listened with wide eyes. She proceeded to be Boss.
As I stumbled mechanically through the motions of our morning routine, she said, “I suggest you wash Piglet’s hands the moment after you put soap on them. In case he puts his hands into his mouth.”
After she’d showered and brushed her own teeth, she said matter-of-factly, “I’m making toast. Come down when you’re ready. Rest a bit first.”
By that time, I had perked up a little. Piglet wanted to nurse and I let him. From downstairs came the clutter of cutlery and the ring of the toaster. Puppy came up and informed me breakfast was ready. “That’s great,” I said. “Have you poured out water for yourself and Lamb?” She slapped her forehead with her hand and cried, “Oh, forgot!” Then she hurried away.
With her impending birthday, I reminisced about how far Puppy’s come. And Lamb too. And how much it’s been a pleasure teaching them at home. I’d miss so much if I’d sent them to kindergarten, I thought. Last week, Puppy ran hell-bent out of the toilet exclaiming, “A lizard just streaked past me!” We just stared at her. “Streaked.” How old was I when I’d used that word in conversation?
When I reached the kitchen, everything was laid out nicely. With even a glass of water for me. Lamb had buttered his own toast and Puppy was spreading jam on mine.
It was this sight that made me wake up properly and dissipated most of my thoughts of “Why on earth am I staying at home for?” It energised me enough to fix lunch before getting the kids down to their morning lessons. “I’ll do my best to be obedient today, Mama,” Puppy beamed at me.
The rest of the day didn’t go by without undesirable incidents. Lamb accidentally wet the bed in the afternoon and I screamed at him. What a rotten mother.
Such pockets of regret dot the landscape of my stay-at-home experience. I feel like giving up sometimes. Especially when I’m tired.
Mostly, though, I’m thankful for the opportunity to learn together. Not merely academics, but values, self-discipline and obedience.