The Afterschool Squad

I was chatting with a friend tonight about the difference between twos and threes.  When my six-man crew was mostly two, they hung on my every word, were so excited about every proposed project, and anxiously undertook the kinds of messy experiments that wore the finish off my table and left us all paint-stained and grinning.  Yay!

And, now?

Well, they still like to experiment, and they really like to mess up my house.  But preferably without my input.


We are afterschoolers, chez Valentine.  My kids and my extra kids go to preschool and kindergarten, but the environment at my house is designed to direct discovery toward beginner academics.  I'm a big fan of early introduction to reading.  I get excited about activities for fine-motor development.  I will gleefully interrupt their complicated make-believe play to show them a new matching game.  And otherwise drive them crazy because they don't want to play with me anymore.

Okay, so I'm a nerd.  I guess some things never change.

Tonight I came home from visiting with my lovely foxes over coffee and treats.  I took off my shoes, and flipped open my laptop.  My husband brought over his iPad to show me something funny, and then gave the sort of warm hug that makes everything all better.  And while I'm enjoying this hug and feeling such deep gratitude for all of the wonderful people in my life, what do I hear?

"Mum, it's 9:08."  In a whisper that reeked of conspiracy and hinted of hidden bombs and missing microchips.

I stepped back to take in our little operative.  All 39" of him.  Standing naked in the kitchen with his hooded duckie towel draped over his arm.  Watching the clock on the stove with burning fascination.


"Shelton, go get your jammies on!"

Minutes later, once more in the arms of my beloved, still scrolling through humourous nonsense on whatever site he just found.

The stealthy whisper:  "Mum!  It's 9:14!"

Me:  "All right!  Woo hoo!  IT'S NINE-FOURTEEN, EVERYONE!  WOOOOOOOO!!"  Complete with hand clapping, fist pumping and upper octave finish.

My children briefly got that look like oh-my-god-she's-finally-lost it, and then they started shrieking and laughing along with me.  (When in the asylum Rome, right?)  Bedtime preparations were temporarily derailed by giggles and snorts and joyful mayhem, explosive laughter and harmless bombs.

Mike, joking, in his best Agent voice: "It is now 9:15.  You must cease and desist."

And we did.  Mostly.

So the next person who asks me why I do this, why I bug my kids with learning activities when they really would rather just play, is getting this answer:

"Because my three year old dropped everything to tell me what time it is.  And I really needed to know."

Yes.  He is that awesome :)


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