Spring has finally arrived to Southeastern Michigan. After a few teasing glances our way in mid-March, it retreated until this week. Finally, it seemed safe to put away the snow shovels and wash the winter coats. The boots left their permanent position near the back door and have been banned to the coat closet along with snow pants.
But as soon as we opened the windows to some fresh, pollen-filled air, we came down with that ailment that plagues homeschoolers and schoolers alike in April and May. Spring fever. And we have it bad.
I blame some of our condition on the schools. My kids caught wind that some of their friends were off school for a week for Spring Break. My younger latched onto that news like a newborn kitten on his mom and insisted on knowing what week our break was. My older knew better than to ask.
We do some snow days, although not the fake ones, the ones that don’t have much snow but just a bunch of ice. Our bus is running on those days. I’m a sucker on the real snow days, the ones where shoveling is more than a 10 minute job and where playing outside is so heavily on their minds that grammar and math are impossible.
But Spring Break? That’s a more difficult call. We like to be done with formal homeschooling at the end of May. By that point, I can’t keep my mind on our lessons much less the planning they take. By April, I’m wearing out. By May, my will power is all but gone, and the breeze often carries a message to work in the garden, clean the garage, or just be otherwise outside. It takes a fair amount of resistance to stay the academic course.
So I prefer to dole out Spring Break in small bits, taking a day here and there, often as the weather dictates and the yard’s post-winter chaos demands. My older is fine with this piecemeal approach to break. He has six years of experience of his mom flaking out come April and May and knows to go with the flow that moves him outside.
His younger brother is far less to content to trust mom and go with her flow. He’s been anxiously asking about the precise dates of a break for the past week and a half. It’s been a bit ugly at times, as he demands to know the dates of his break while I’m going with the warm winds and weatherchannel.com to let me know what days we’ll take off in a week. I’m not a terribly spontaneous person the rest of the year, but spring makes me a bit, well, flighty and impulsive. (I often pay for that impulsiveness later. I’m far more likely to take on commitments in spring that carry me into other less heady times of year, causing Fall Overcommitment Syndrome).
As my older gets, well, older, this approach to spring can leave us with material hanging at the end of May. Material that really should be done before the following September and that I desperately don’t want to administrate and direct during summer. I do schedule a minimal amount of “let’s not lose ground and make fall miserable” work in summer, but I’d rather not leave The Big Stuff hanging (chemistry and History of Music are my older’s potentially hanging subjects this year). Because I’m the sort that likes to finish the book, I experience a bit of angst in spring. Let the end of a book go, leave it to finish in the fall, or promise (and generally fail) to complete it over the summer?
But I’ll have to think about that another day. The sun is shining, the temperature is in the fifties, and the world looks far too inviting to prep for tomorrow’s chemistry class, read and grade essays, or call my younger back to the kitchen table for the 674th time today. We did accomplish a bit today, and it’s just that I’m honoring our biological urge to get into nature and synthesize a bit of vitamin D.
And, hey, this is Michigan. A warm, sunny day in April is a gift often followed by days of rain. So I’ll honor my case of spring fever and find my way outside. It’s a sunny day, and I’m out the door.