“1.  ‘Homeschooling’ is a fanciful notion conjured up by some childless professor while in the comforts of his peaceful, artificial reality and should never be attempted by the outside world.”

Luckily in Bordeaux the chocolate is fantastic

Luckily in Bordeaux the chocolate is fantastic

Our lovely Canadian friends have come to the end of their eight months traveling the world. Dean sent out an email yesterday listing ten things they have learned. The quote above was number one.

Dean’s words echoed in my ears this morning, when we managed to have our children in tears in separate rooms. The lure of ‘unschooling’ looked almost irresistible.

The tears were really unnecessary and probably as much a function of being very tired as anything else. Our apartment here in Bordeaux has turned out to be an unfortunate choice. It’s small, poorly equipped and very hot – and even has mosquitos to top things off. Our much-needed good night’s sleep, after a night on a train, did not eventuate. So I can’t entirely blame either the kids or us – but regardless of causes it was definitely one of our lower points in six months of schooling and simply no fun at all.

And really if we step back there was no reason for it in the wider scheme of things. We got Declan’s exam results from the US yesterday and he handily passed Year 4 maths. His tears we occasioned by being asked to write a story after a week of focussing on maths. Turns out he could no longer remember how to write a story – who’d have thought it?

Callum’s tears were brought on by getting  several questions in a chapter test wrong. We had thought we’d been making real progress with his resiliency – and we probably have – but it didn’t show today.  He proceeded to get it all right on a second try once he’d calmed down.

I’d love to say that the day got better, but in the interests of fairness to our future selves and to any readers we have now I have to admit it didn’t. Tired everyone and unhappy kids lead to arguing parents and everyone snapping at everyone else. In some ways the poor kids lose out worst in these situations because they get their parents snapping at them when they snap at each other. Although they have their own means of addressing the issue too. The plaintive cry from Callum “Evan will you please stop being angry with Jennifer?” rather brought me to a sudden halt too.

Anyhow, there wasn’t a lot of happiness to go round as we set out for the shopping centre of Bordeaux to get Jennifer’s birthday present. A visit to the Apple store was a ray of sunshine into our day. It had the boys laughing in geeky delight; and Jennifer and I quietly happy we’d managed to negotiate our way through the purchase process in French.

Unfortunately peace did not reign for long with a frustrating trip to the supermarket and further meltdowns this afternoon. And gloom continues on the home front with the kitchen two-ring electric hob revealing itself us unable to boil water for our rice dinner. I mean, really, it can’t boil water! Aaaagh.

Ah well, we’re going to console ourselves with the wisdom of the Canadians. Dean’s second lesson learnt:

“2.  A bit of chocolate, beer and/or spirits each day won’t do a bit of harm.”