This week we had a special treat: Ms. Tierra visited us for dinner one night during her visit to Salt Lake City for a convention. She was Everett’s teacher at Wauwatosa Montessori for two years in Children’s House. Everett loves Ms. Tierra and we do as well – in many ways she had a huge positive impact on him. She visited us with Ms. Tracy, another Wauwatosa Montessori teacher who teaches Upper Elementary. One thing that we learned as Montessori parents is how children are intrinsically motivated to do work, and even young children will concentrate for long periods of time given the right task and setting. On a related subject, our dinner with Tierra and Tracy was surprisingly relaxing because Teddy and Gwen found engaging work. This first happened for Gwen a couple months ago when we were at the beach – she was playing with sand and told Melissa “Momma, I’m so busy. I’m so busy Momma.” Tonight during dinner the children were playing with colored macaroni. Teddy told Chris “I’m working so hard.” Also in the midst of this Gwen told Melissa “Sit down with me and don’t hold your phone.” Later, Teddy said “This is nice, Momma.” This may be the most relaxing family dinner we have had for a couple years. Both of them love playing with the macaroni, so much so that it has become a distraction from eating.

Everett is now in Lower Elementary (second grade) and he is getting used to a different approach when it comes to work and time management. When he was in Children’s House the students were almost completely self-directed and did not have deadlines. That is changing now – he is given more specific tasks for his lessons, and he is given a deadline to finish them. He can be very focused. On Tuesday this week he was sick and home from school. One of his self-directed activities was to create an entire book of watercolor paintings for the family.

All of the children now have chores. Everett sets the table and takes out the trash on Sunday nights. Teddy & Gwen are expected to help with cleanup of toys. Gwen has taken it upon herself to make sure everyone has a napkin at dinner. Chris has a reputation for being a messy eater; Gwen seems to have picked up on this and decided to give Dad a couple extra napkins.

This afternoon Everett helped Chris with another kind of work: dealing with the voles in our yard. This has been an issue since we moved in but we didn’t really care because our yard has been abandoned since the house was built about 20 years ago. However, we are nearing completion on a huge landscaping project and now that we have a nice patch of grass outside the back door we do not like to see it destroyed by vole mounds and tunnels. We have researched several ways to get rid of them. None seem particularly effective – these rodents are so fertile and prolific that the best we can probably do is keep them in check.
We are averse to traps and poison because of the age of the children. Instead we are focusing our energy on repelling them, perhaps into the neighbors yards. So Chris and Everett mixed up a batch of vole repellent out of castor oil and dishwashing soap. Then we carefully scraped away all the vole mounds and sprayed the solution into each hole, as well as all over the surviving grass. Within an hour there was a vole poking his head through the grass and making a new mound. And in the afternoon there was another new mound. It seems clear that this is just the beginning of a process in which we may not prevail.

As for Mom & Dad, our work is never done. It feels like there are not enough hours in the day to keep up. Somehow we have to reconcile that feeling with the fact that these are likely the best years of our lives. Even when everyone is happy and healthy it’s not always easy to keep this in mind.

Comments (1)

One thought on “Work

  1. Has your landscape lady suggested anything helpful for the voles?

    This family is amazing and loving.

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