Bottle Caps

This morning I was making some yerba mate, thinking about how I had gotten a later start on the day than I had wanted to, about the way summer keeps melting into autumn, and how I’m really going to have to get a handle on structuring our days…generally the kind of thoughts that make me feel like a loser of a parent. From the room next door, I can hear my little Fire Girl, just-turned-five, scraping bottle caps from last night’s party on the kitchen table. (So maybe you’re agreeing with me now that I am, in fact, a loser of a parent. But wait.)

Here is where the magic of unschooling happens. I hear this monologue:

1- 2- 3- 4- 5- 6- 7- 8- 9- 10- 11- 12

There are  four of this black kind for me, three of this black kind for him. So wait, we don’t need that extra one for me, so…okay put it over here. (Pause)

And, look. There are three of this yellow kind for me, and…wait only two of this yellow kind for him.

I can’t make it even. 1.2.3.4.5. and 1.2.3.4.5.6.

OK, I know! I’ll get the extra black bottle cap from over there (pause) and now! Now we each have 1.2.3.4.5.6. And he won’t mind having four black and two yellow, and I’ll have three of each.

I say, casually, still making myself busy in the kitchen: cool, honey. So how many are altogether?

She counts again. 12. Six and six…or three and three and four and two. Can you please get our collection jars for me to put them in?

Yes, ma’am. Yes, I can do that much for you. Mind if I take one picture of those first?

Later at the chiropractor, the receptionist asks me brightly, so you’re still homeschooling?…I could never do that…I just don’t have the discipline or patience it takes….

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