* Back to reality

The vacation is over and life is back to its frenzied pace once again. I hope everyone enjoyed their holidays, because we certainly did. We were treated to some incredible New England hospitality wherever we went, and it was wonderful. I wish I could make it back there more often.

Our road trip was long and a bit harried, at least on the way out when we ran smack into a blizzard. Ohio was rather unkind to us, though Little Hercules was thrilled with our adventures, particularly when we got to sit in the bed of the pickup and make like sandbags so Pa could get us unstuck.

Otherwise, we listened to our audio books and Rio passed a great many hours working through the activity books he got for Christmas. He finished the entire math book, happily counting and coloring-by-number in his seat between me and Pa. When he works so quietly and contentedly like that for over an hour I wish his teachers could see him. I’ll admit there’s a lot more external stimulation to distract him in the classroom, but he has no trouble whatsoever focusing in the car. It’s amazing. I was seriously considering becoming a full-time nomad, just to enjoy the sedative effect that driving has on Little Hercules.

I’ll have some pictures from the trip online soon at flickr, please be patient. I took over 100 and I’ve barely had a chance to look at them since we got home.

I had set a goal for Rio’s Christmas break to teach him to read before he started school again, but I didn’t quite meet that goal. I really was only able to work on it during the drive, but we did get a lot of practice on the road. I’m eager for him to read, but I’m trying not to make him feel pressured. He’s making progress, which means he’s getting less frustrated with words he doesn’t know. I explained to him that reading is more recognition than sounding out letters, at least once you learn to recognize familiar letter combinations. So we worked on phonics a lot, and eventually I’m sure the repetition will pay off.

Anyway, he’s back at school now and I’m trying to be optimistic about his behavior report for his first day after vacation. Frankly, I’ll be pretty relieved if he gets through the day without getting suspended. He was great on our trip, but coming home was tough for him after all that excitement, and he’s been wound up tight and was especially defiant and combative over the weekend.

In other news, our household has shrunk back to its original size, meaning Big B has chosen to go live with his mom again. It was a bit of a surprise, but it turns out to be entirely amicable and typical of an adolescent boy’s priorities: he misses his friends and he gets to go to the skate park every day after school there. We just want him to realize that he can’t yoyo back and forth on a whim, so this move will be permanent. There will be no opportunity for re-entry until high school, and then he’ll get to choose his location. Meanwhile, I am having mixed feelings of relief and sadness. Relief, because it’s not easy to feed a teenage boy and I don’t like having to hide food just so it will last more than a day. Sadness, because I felt like he and I were just beginning to connect, and Rio was getting pretty attached to him, too.

My feelings regarding that whole dynamic are as complex as the situation, and all I can really say is that I just hope I can set a good example for those kids in what little time I have with them. Unfortunately, I am generally so emotionally exhausted from wrangling Hercules that I don’t feel like the other kids are getting the best of my efforts. I need to reconcile that somehow.

There's a lot I've been wanting to touch on lately, and I just haven't had the time to do it. I hope to be posting a bunch of short but frequent posts over the next week or so, now that I'm back to work. If I didn't work, I'd never be able to blog. Ironic, isn't it?

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