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albeto
11-05-2011, 04:06 PM
Well, we don't really "school." Although I will be starting my dd with a history text book for the purpose of learning how to extract information from a text (she has troubles with this). We also look through Life of Fred (dd is 14 and math is problematic for her, this is a gentle intro at the speed we go, ds is almost 12 and he could blast through them). So that's, um, two subjects. They're old enough at this age that we don't set aside a half hour of reading time, they don't practice penmanship, they don't have hours of homework to do. My son spends time on the computer designing places and learning coding. My dd spends time on the computer writing RPG games with friends. We travel when we can but with mil, travel will have to stop. She's just not strong enough to go places, gets tired easily, can't walk far, etc.

Last year she was here and it was uncomfortable. She lost her husband of 55 years a couple years ago and the emotional toll is so much that this very strong woman who grew up in the depression, came of age during WWII, raised food in her own garden to feed her young family, is now getting teary at little things. I can't imagine how hard this must be for her and I'm afraid we're contributing to her anxiety because she sees her grandkids "playing" all day and not doing what she'd expect (six hours sitting at desks doing the 3 Rs). It makes her nervous that the kids "aren't learning anything." Explaining to her that they actually are learning doesn't work. Going on "field trips" isn't possible. Arguing with my kids to get them to sit at the table to do penmanship ain't gonna happen.

I think she's coming soon and I need to be prepared. Any ideas?

farrarwilliams
11-05-2011, 04:58 PM
Is there something that they could do with her that would feel educational but also fit with you guys and your lifestyle? What about a grandmother book club where they read and discuss the same book? Or if she picks a book for them and they pick one for her?

I don't know... that's really hard. I mean, when kids are little, I think there are fun things that grandparents can do with them that are easier and might make her feel like they're learning - little games, she could do read alouds, and so forth. But when kids are older, they have their own lives. If they don't already mesh with grandma then that could be hard. And I see what you're saying about increasing her anxiety by having her around when you can't change the way you do things (and nor should you have to).

Laina
11-05-2011, 05:06 PM
Maybe you could stretch the truth a bit and suggest they are taking it easy this week because of her visit?

AddlepatedMonkeyMama
11-05-2011, 05:18 PM
Do your kids have any interest in genealogy or family stories? I don't know if talking about those things would be upsetting to your MIL, but even hearing "what life was like" during the Depression would be fascinating. There are so many things I wish I had asked my grandparents when I had the chance.

dbmamaz
11-05-2011, 05:31 PM
keep gramma drunk . .. sarcasm, sorry.

Avalon
11-05-2011, 06:30 PM
She sounds a lot like my mother-in-law. How long is she going to stay with you? I think that trying to do things together might be a good bet. Maybe she has some special skills that she could teach to the kids (making perogies or cabbage rolls, making jam, embroidery???), or some old family photo albums to share with you. Taking the time to tell some old family stories or talk about traditions would be good. Maybe she'll even take an interest in what the kids are doing. They could talk to her about what books they're reading, or projects they're working on.

If the focus is on her, she might not even notice what sorts of things aren't happening. If she's staying for more than a week or two, it might be hard to keep it up.

belacqua
11-05-2011, 06:52 PM
keep gramma drunk . .. sarcasm, sorry.

Heh. Perhaps a unit on distillation and fermentation is in order.

I really like AdMoMa's genealogy idea (and getting grandma liquored up might actually yield some really interesting family stories). Maybe the kids could even make a kind of book with the stories she tells and give it to her as a gift, perhaps at Christmas or whatever gift-giving holiday you celebrate.

Shaunam
11-05-2011, 07:08 PM
Maybe you could stretch the truth a bit and suggest they are taking it easy this week because of her visit?

I like this idea. Phrase it like, "And this is one of the great things about homeschooling...we get to choose our own vacation times and we thought it would be great for the kids to take some time off to spend quality time with you!"

albeto
11-05-2011, 08:01 PM
Is there something that they could do with her that would feel educational but also fit with you guys and your lifestyle? What about a grandmother book club where they read and discuss the same book? Or if she picks a book for them and they pick one for her?

Hmmm, intriguing. She reads a lot and dd loves to read. The trick would be to figure out how to work together. They have different reading preferences, dd likes steampunk sci-fi whereas mil, well, probably would have no idea what's going on! But that might make it fun if they challenge each other. I'll talk with dd about this. Thanks!


I don't know... that's really hard. I mean, when kids are little, I think there are fun things that grandparents can do with them that are easier and might make her feel like they're learning - little games, she could do read alouds, and so forth. But when kids are older, they have their own lives. If they don't already mesh with grandma then that could be hard. And I see what you're saying about increasing her anxiety by having her around when you can't change the way you do things (and nor should you have to).

Yeah, it's easier when they're little and you can go for a walk or play board games. Now "a walk" is v e r y s l o w and board games are things we just don't do. Oh! ds has just learned to play poker and mil likes playing cards, even poker. That should help!

lakshmi
11-05-2011, 08:08 PM
Maybe you could stretch the truth a bit and suggest they are taking it easy this week because of her visit?
Yes I would do this. No need to stress out an old lady with new ideas.

Or just for fun, ask them if they'd like to play with Spelling City and then you can print out a certificate of completion. LOL... It would be a lesson in faking it. Everyone needs to know how to fake it. Work is filled with instances of appeasing the boss or the investors or the donors or whatever.

My guess is that she stays with you. Otherwise I would say, just tell her she can't come from 7 -noon becuase you "do school" then.

albeto
11-05-2011, 08:12 PM
Maybe you could stretch the truth a bit and suggest they are taking it easy this week because of her visit?

I did that last year and she fell apart (well, falling apart for her is choking back tears). She honestly thought it would be better if she didn't come so the kids wouldn't be denied an education. Ugh. She didn't believe me when I said we "do school" all year because she just can't conceive of learning academics in July. She came from just about nothing, helped her husband get through medical school in the 50's; education is *the* key to gaining the American Dream, and education looks like hours and hours sitting at a desk. The kids not spending time at the table means they're not getting an education. Playing cards should distract her, though, so that should help.

She also felt lonely last time she was here, I think, because my kids don't really like to play cards or board games and partly because when they do, grandma talks and talks and talks and her talks sound to kids like boring lectures. I recognize she's passing on pearls of wisdom to her grandkids but they interpret it as enduring the never-ending lesson of life. My mom does kind of the same thing (poor kids), but she thinks she's helping by giving an educational lesson any time an opportunity comes up. I can talk to her but not my mil.

So I have to make it look like we're doing school stuff but we can't really do field trips so we'll be stuck at home.

lakshmi
11-05-2011, 08:21 PM
Oh ALBETO......You're a pickle in a jam!

albeto
11-05-2011, 08:30 PM
Do your kids have any interest in genealogy or family stories? I don't know if talking about those things would be upsetting to your MIL, but even hearing "what life was like" during the Depression would be fascinating. There are so many things I wish I had asked my grandparents when I had the chance.


I really like AdMoMa's genealogy idea (and getting grandma liquored up might actually yield some really interesting family stories). Maybe the kids could even make a kind of book with the stories she tells and give it to her as a gift, perhaps at Christmas or whatever gift-giving holiday you celebrate.

I tried last year. I suggested the kids have Grandma tell them stories about whatever it is they're interested in and create a blog for her, kind of a scrapbook of our time together with pictures and stories they learned about her, etc. That totally fell through. I think they really just don't want to spend much time with her. :(

albeto
11-05-2011, 08:31 PM
keep gramma drunk . .. sarcasm, sorry.



Heh. Perhaps a unit on distillation and fermentation is in order.

ha!

I am SO coming here for all my family advice needs!

albeto
11-05-2011, 08:35 PM
If the focus is on her, she might not even notice what sorts of things aren't happening. If she's staying for more than a week or two, it might be hard to keep it up.

That's what I'm hoping. Now that ds plays poker, I think he'll spend lots of time with her. I can probably convince dd to draw or do something quietly while I read aloud Sherlock Holmes or something classic and something that grandma can join in (rather than a long story she hears part of). She takes a long time to do things and I'm a master procrastinator so hopefully we can putz around until dh gets home from work (early, please o please o please).

albeto
11-05-2011, 08:42 PM
My guess is that she stays with you. Otherwise I would say, just tell her she can't come from 7 -noon becuase you "do school" then.
She stays right here in a room she helped pay for (converting the garage to a downstairs bedroom for her). She lives on one coast and we live on another. She lives in New Hampshire where there's tons of snow and we live in CA where it's always mild. Her dd lives in southern CA so she stays there for a few months and will take a plane or train up here for a few weeks. I thinks she feels a little uncomfortable here because this isn't her dd's house but her dil's house and her dd works full time whereas I have always stayed home with the kids. Vacations used to be tense with her dh and so I think she thinks she must be a bit of an imposition on me. Honestly, I love her dearly and I get along with her very well I think, but it's not like we didn't have times of tension what with our son being autistic for years without anyone knowing what was going on and everyone trying to figure out just what I was doing wrong.

albeto
11-05-2011, 08:43 PM
Oh ALBETO......You're a pickle in a jam!

Ha!

I have to say, I'm feeling much better now. I think I've already got a few good ideas in the works. You guys are the best.

But truth be told, I much prefer a nice beer to a pickle.

Pefa
11-05-2011, 09:20 PM
How about putting some books about homeschooling on her bedside table. The guy who wrote snow falling on cedars did a nice one, or John Holt, or even something like Gerald Durrell's my family and other animals (if ever there was a successful minimally schooled child it's G. Durrell And the book is funny.) Those plus some good scotch ought to mellow her out.

Since what she's probably worried about it that the kids won't "succeed" in the "real world" you might also have the kids explain to her how what they're doing relates to what they think they want to be doing as grown ups.

Good luck. Make sure you keep some of the scotch for yourself.

raegan
11-05-2011, 10:12 PM
along the lines of potential family stories, photo albums, genealogy...could she bring those, the kids can "interview" her on specific topics (NPR's StoryCorps has some great templates and starters!). THEN the kids can take her pics and knowledge, and build a website for the family. They get "school," but get to apply their programming knowledge, she gets to feel important and the center of attention, not to mention seeing that their computer time is actually a useful life skill.

?

coloradoalice
11-05-2011, 10:53 PM
A few weeks? Oh good grief, that's a lot to handle!!

Is there a senior center anywhere you can take her to meet friends or something? Since she comes regularly friends would be helpful for future visits also. How much time can your DH take off to entertain her? It's his mother after all! What does she do at home? Puzzle books, knitting, any sort of hobby you can stock up on for her? What about cooking? Maybe she can teach the kids some special recipes or something?

I am not good at entertaining people at all, I would really be stuck.

dbmamaz
11-05-2011, 10:56 PM
yeah, seriously, my mom comes to visit for 24 hours and stays in a hotel and i stress about it for a week before she comes. We stayed at my MIL's for 6 days and would have left early if we could have changed the reservations for the trip. and i can barely even speak to her (langauge barrier), but she and dh got in to at least one yelling match where I kept trying to get dh to just stop and walk away and calm down, but it seemed like he wouldnt be happy until he made her cry . . urggg

Teri
11-05-2011, 11:38 PM
What about a living history interview? Have them research the era that grandma grew up in and come up with interview questions....depression, WWII, civil rights, etc. It would be a great opportunity for them to do some research/reading and then make a connection gma.

albeto
11-06-2011, 12:06 AM
I like the idea of a local senior center! I'll get some information from our local one.

I've suggested an interview kind of deal with for my kids but they really don't want to. I don't feel comfortable making them (for various reasons).

zcat
11-06-2011, 07:48 AM
What does she want to do during her visits? What are her interests?

Depending on how long she is going to visit maybe you can get the kids to do a research project on some topic- maybe a country study, a particular time period, or something science related. I'd just ask them to choose some topic that interests them to research for a week or two and put together the results in some way. Put some books around the house about those topics. They aren't taking time off because they are busy with their projects. They can talk to grandma about what they are learning.

Things you could do together:
You could take mil out for a drive even if she can not walk much. Maybe you could get a wheelchair for her so she could come along some places without having to walk a lot. Maybe go places where she can be sitting and resting even if the kids are running around. Maybe do things without the kids.
Puzzles. Board games. Cards. Movies. Craft projects. Cooking. Building or fixing something.

I wouldn't break out old pictures or dwell on the past if she is missing her dh so much. I would concentrate on what is happening now and having new experiences together.

dbmamaz
11-06-2011, 08:07 AM
It sounds to me lime first of all, a lot of ppl are assuming that your kids like crafts and that you can tell them to do something and they will, and that neither is the case. I do think that I would at least talk to my kids about the fact that gramma really wants to get to know them and it's respectful and kind to make an effort to spend sone time w her. How can field trips be totally out? Maybe go see a movie or take the kids skating and gramma can watch? There aren't any local museums you can drag everyone to? Maybe I'm wrong, but it seems to me that gramma might be offended if she comes to spend a few weeks getting to know her grandkids and is shuffled off to play cards w strangers? Or am I missing part of the dynamic here?

Teri
11-06-2011, 09:21 AM
I agree with Cara.
Were the kids happy with how it went last year? It seems like they are going to have to take some ownership and responsibility for having it work out this time. Maybe talk it over with them and see what THEY come up with? I am sure it is stressful for you if no one else is making an effort to make this work.
What about signing the kids up for a class so you can at least take them and drop them off for the "school"...even if it were pottery or whatever they are interested in.

AddlepatedMonkeyMama
11-06-2011, 09:40 AM
You could check out museums or other places that have wheelchairs available. My sister-in-law had a stroke a few years ago and has difficulty keeping up with her kids when walking is involved. It worked out great when they went to Disney World.

albeto
11-06-2011, 12:34 PM
It sounds to me lime first of all, a lot of ppl are assuming that your kids like crafts and that you can tell them to do something and they will, and that neither is the case.

Exactly


I do think that I would at least talk to my kids about the fact that gramma really wants to get to know them and it's respectful and kind to make an effort to spend sone time w her.

To be fair, my kids do try to spend time with her. When she engages them they are attentive and friendly. As the weeks go by, they try to make themselves less available.

I don't mean to sound like my kids are rude, because I don't think they are. I think they're solving their problem the best they can which is why I'm trying to prevent the problem this time. See, my mil will talk and talk and give them her pearls of wisdom but essentially this amounts to listening to 45-90 min of lecture. They end up feeling bad and nervous about their futures. Every once in a while she'll try to snap at them, sound serious, but my kids interpret it as Grandma yelling at them and they don't want to set themselves up for that. I don't blame them, to be honest.


How can field trips be totally out? Maybe go see a movie or take the kids skating and gramma can watch? There aren't any local museums you can drag everyone to? Maybe I'm wrong, but it seems to me that gramma might be offended if she comes to spend a few weeks getting to know her grandkids and is shuffled off to play cards w strangers? Or am I missing part of the dynamic here?

Field trips are out because last year she had knee replacement surgery for arthritis and her other knee needs replacement. Walking taxes her but she's too proud to sit in a wheelchair or scooter. She consents to use her walking cane when she must but walking around an art museum or something like that would be too much walking for her.

She's an enormously friendly and outgoing lady so a senior center would, I imagine, be a place for her to make friends and play bridge and things like that.

Mum
11-06-2011, 01:00 PM
I wonder if another option would be for you to come to terms with the way things will go down and accept it. If you can find a way to remove from yourself the burden of convincing her that your kids are fine and just let it be, as the song goes you may find more peace with the situation.

Worse case scenario: MIL comes. She doesn't get it. She wells up with tears. She goes home still not understanding it. Take a deep breath. Is that ok? If you can find a way to be ok with that, you'll be able to do what you do and what you know works for your family and still welcome her, knowing that she my not accept your way and that's ok. Stomach stops tying itself in knots. You don't get the shakes thinking about it.

I say free yourself, sister.

albeto
11-06-2011, 01:03 PM
I say free yourself, sister.

This makes me smile. There's some wisdom in this. Thanks.

christineoc
11-06-2011, 03:38 PM
A few things that have worked for us when my parents (not great at engaging the kids anyway, and not convinced about homeschooling) come to visit:

-Balancing the time they spend with the grandparents with the time they spend on their own (either "studying" or pursuing other interests)

-Involving the grandparents in their extracurricular activities, like watching a sporting event or going to a music recital

-My favorite: sharing what we ARE doing educationally with them. My mom was a mathematician, and she was thrilled when we asked her opinion of "Life of Fred". Both parents loved reading through her portfolio, and were so impressed that they are now all for homeschooling.

I agree with a previous poster: once you accept that you probably won't get her approval, life will be much easier...

dbmamaz
11-06-2011, 05:47 PM
To be fair, my kids do try to spend time with her. When she engages them they are attentive and friendly. As the weeks go by, they try to make themselves less available.
LOL i see!

Maybe pp is right about just accepting it as it is. I still remember my mom, every year, insisting that there would be NO fighting at the beach this year. The more she insisted, the more we fought and the more she cried. We dont go to the beach any more .. .

findemerson
11-06-2011, 08:42 PM
Well, I would say that if you can't "set yourself free"...there are some fantastic options to open up interests.

For example: Philosophy for Teens/Kids...these are books that list various topics and you "discuss" them..creatively and craftily. Topics include things like beauty, lying, politics, religion, etc..There are also debate books-ideas you can grab from the web.. one such book is Make Up Your Mind. It has very interesting topics like Nature vs. Nurture and provides interesting historical tidbits in there to spark and challenge debate. There is the book They Say/I Say and Thank You for Arguing...these are ways that enhance your child's writing, speaking, debating and all around life skills. As someone mentioned before--there is always the need to appease others AND there is always the need to stand firm with your beliefs.

You could make it challenging by assigning one child FOR/AGAINST a general "bad" topic...like LYING. You could make it funny like some of the talk shows. I'd even go so far as to challenge Grandma to contest one of the children since she loves to 'lecture'.

If your kids are already fantastic orators and debaters..it'll be a piece of cake, especially challenging them to take the alternative side. If they are NOT, then they are learning a skill that will be useful regardless of profession, for the rest of their lives. Either way, based on this thread, I'd say you could make this fun and fantastic. Perhaps even introductions to Psychology/sociology, extended economics..again..skills that any child could benefit. Grandma would no doubt be highly impressed that they are discussing/debating: (from the philosophy book)

What is Love?
Is there anything that cannot be true?
Is lying always wrong?
Should we accept reality?
Do animals have rights?
Why do bad things happen to good people?

I'm not endorsing any of these books.. they are simply the most "common". If you really are interested in the idea, you'd probably get better ideas from the other members by starting a new thread.
I think generally hs'ing kids are already prepared to some degree since they are going against social norms for the majority of their lives up to adulthood..but I could be wrong.

albeto
11-06-2011, 10:10 PM
Well, I would say that if you can't "set yourself free"...there are some fantastic options to open up interests....

Oh this would be so fabulously fun with my mom! My mil isn't much of a logical thinker, I have to admit. If she's heard something from what she considers a reliable source, that's it, the end of story. One time (years ago you'll note) we were discussing the OJ Simpson photo on both the cover of Time and Newsweek. Remember that? One magazine darkened his image a little, accusations of making him look more dangerous due to his race were all over. My in-laws didn't believe that for a second. No self-respecting republican magazine would ever make a black man look more guilty, perish the thought! We were at a restaurant discussing this and I suggested that's exactly what they did. By the end of the dinner, my mil was announcing to us that even in black communities black people will only date people of their race with lighter skin. The logical impossibility of that aside, they ended up lecturing me that darker skin is given over to the stereotype of less desirable characteristics in mainstream American society - exactly what I was trying to explain to them for the past 90 min! So no, debating with my mil would be useless. She would simply lecture and not let the kids get a word in edgewise.

My mother, on the other hand, comes from a family of debaters. There's a story of her father and his first cousin arguing over who was the better singer, Elvis Presley or Ricky Nelson. It wasn't until a couple hours into this debate when my grandmother realized only one of them had even heard Elvis and the other didn't know who Ricky Nelson was! But they enjoy the hunt of the debate. ;)

dbmamaz
11-06-2011, 11:04 PM
ack .. . see, the first reminds me of my mother's mother - when my mom said studies indicated that soon less than half of the workforce would be white males, my grandmother responded with "Thats terrible! where will all the girls find husbands!"

But arguing for arguments sake, I cant stand that. pointless . . . i know, some ppl find it fun, but i'd rather sit alone in a darkened room, BY FAR.

Mum
11-07-2011, 09:58 AM
Well, I would say that if you can't "set yourself free"...there are some fantastic options to open up interests.

For example: Philosophy for Teens/Kids...these are books that list various topics and you "discuss" them..creatively and craftily. Topics include things like beauty, lying, politics, religion, etc..There are also debate books-ideas you can grab from the web.. one such book is Make Up Your Mind. It has very interesting topics like Nature vs. Nurture and provides interesting historical tidbits in there to spark and challenge debate. There is the book They Say/I Say and Thank You for Arguing...these are ways that enhance your child's writing, speaking, debating and all around life skills. As someone mentioned before--there is always the need to appease others AND there is always the need to stand firm with your beliefs.

You could make it challenging by assigning one child FOR/AGAINST a general "bad" topic...like LYING. You could make it funny like some of the talk shows. I'd even go so far as to challenge Grandma to contest one of the children since she loves to 'lecture'.

If your kids are already fantastic orators and debaters..it'll be a piece of cake, especially challenging them to take the alternative side. If they are NOT, then they are learning a skill that will be useful regardless of profession, for the rest of their lives. Either way, based on this thread, I'd say you could make this fun and fantastic. Perhaps even introductions to Psychology/sociology, extended economics..again..skills that any child could benefit. Grandma would no doubt be highly impressed that they are discussing/debating: (from the philosophy book)

What is Love?
Is there anything that cannot be true?
Is lying always wrong?
Should we accept reality?
Do animals have rights?
Why do bad things happen to good people?

I'm not endorsing any of these books.. they are simply the most "common". If you really are interested in the idea, you'd probably get better ideas from the other members by starting a new thread.
I think generally hs'ing kids are already prepared to some degree since they are going against social norms for the majority of their lives up to adulthood..but I could be wrong.

These are great suggestions!