The first day of the unschool year

August 23, 2010

I noticed on facebook today that many of my friend’s kids were dressed in fresh new clothes with hair and teeth brushed. Ruby and Miles weren’t actually all that bad considering they had a shower just yesterday (showering when you don’t have one of your own can be a little more of an adventure).  When we went out for the morning I decided to drag along Tucker’s good camera to snap a few shots of our first day, and what a beautiful day it was.  We had sun and warmth starting in the morning and lasting until evening. Ruby came home from swimming lessons after 6 without wearing her winter hat.  Remarkable!  Here’s why I’m glad I didn’t send my daughter to school again today.

Both kids have fairy dust necklaces (though Miles lost his fairy dust in the bilge).  Ruby offered Miles a wish on her fairy dust every five steps so we could make it down the dock in a reasonable amount of time. Yep, stopping every five steps was an improvement.  You might think that the B dock was a straight line from our boat to the shore, but for the kids each and every finger has something to explore and they surely can’t be done until they know every boat name (and why they were named that); see every shell left by a sea bird; compare how each boat ties their dock lines; count how many boats have and anchor or two, or not; why one boat has a pirate flag; why someone is cleaning a certain way; why someone left their hose on; ….it could go on and it does, and we needed to get down the dock to go on a bike ride.

We managed to drop off the PFDs and sun hats in Tucker’s truck and trade them for bikes and helmets and then they were off.  But a bike ride is easily interrupted by a stick that begs to be thrown into the water.

That was the end of the bike ride because Miles needed to head back to the bathroom. Then it was time to play on the grass.

Ruby’s tag game seemed to be chase Miles and then push him over.  He’d get up, she’d chase, she’d push (hard) and eventually he didn’t want to play that anymore.  Ruby got mad at me for asking her to be gentle and stormed off to play in the mud at the edge of the grass. Miles joined and and they got pretty darned muddy.  I didn’t think it was a terribly big deal because we had access to bathrooms and 64 faucets and hoses between the lawn and our boat that I could rinse them off in. And again it was a remarkably warm day out so we could even string their clothes on the lifelines to dry.

At some point they started to itch so I grabbed my bag, Tucker’s camera, Miles shoes, and Ruby’s backpack, and pushed her bike while he held her shoes and she pushed his bike (not touching the handle bars) back to the ManVan.  Then we packed most of our stuff into a dock cart so I could roll them down to our boat for some cleaning up, as they weren’t clean enough to go into the showers without a pre-wash.  Ruby did come up with the clever idea that we could make a path of disposable bathmats from the bathroom door to the shower for them to walk across (but by now you can probably imagine that my kids aren’t exactly capable of remaining on the path so we skipped that).

The sheer volume of mud must have been spectacular, as two old ladies and one of the maintenance guys stopped to comment that we “must have been having a lot of fun.” I texted Tucker for help (he was telecommuting from the boat) and he showed up a few minutes later with a bucket. It turns out that it wasn’t mud at all, but tar from the recent resurfacing of the foot path. This would require some scrubbing.

And did we scrub.  Miles was upset because the bucket couldn’t get any fuller with the sink faucet, Ruby got dipped in the sink, and both kids were scrubbed with old wash cloths that will go in the trash instead of the laundry this week (can I wash a tar stained shirt at the laundromat?).  As we kept scrubbing and scrubbing I kept wondering if she’d be allowed into the pool at the end of the day for swimming lessons.

We scrubbed until it was time to drop everything, grab some coffee and get to my eye doctor appointment. While I got my new prescription, Tucker took the kids for lunch and to Shorebird park.

When we got back on the boat Miles napped, Tucker worked and Ruby engaged in a pressing project to paint with a feather that she found on Angel Island. Naturally the first order of business was avian identification. We looked for the feather in a bird identification book and then a sea bird book. At one point Ruby piped up, “Mom, find the section that tells you which birds live on Angel Island.” After the feather had been satisfactorily identified, Ruby attempted to apply a tree frog temporary tattoo onto the feather and then, finally, got out the watercolor paper and the liquid water colors in a glass and she painted.

It says, “Dear Mom, I love you so so so much. Love, Ruby.”

The day ended with Ruby and Tucker going to Ruby’s swim lesson; Miles and I painting with the feather (feather end, not quill end); playdough; math workbooks, Curious George Gets a Medal (read for the thousandth time); dinner of hardboiled eggs, sliced turkey, kale chips and pineapple-banana-strawberry-orange juice smoothies. I am not quite sure how I managed to get dinner on the table, but after a day like today I am sure that anything can happen. What a Day!

1 comment

  1. Comment by Nicole

    Nicole August 24, 2010 at 9:42 am

    Haha! Walking to and from our boat is the exact same experience as you guys. It takes forever! Touching everything, having to throw sticks and rocks in the water, there has to be this routine to it every time. We touch this boat, and this chain, and we climb up the side of the ramp just so, and we say, “Ah! There’s a hungry bear chasing us!” at this point in our travels. So funny.

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