Lifestyle Design

Adventures in Homeschooling

The Perils of Swiss Timing

Chronic lateness is the theft of other people's time.

I was going to post on Monday that we were starting week three of school, and now suddenly today is Friday and we are nearly at the end of it! We've been working mostly on survival.

I am happy to say that my homeschool mom career is far from over - or I can say, at least, that it has morphed into super-hands-on-homework-helper mom: translating, explaining, figuring out: here's how you say ‘direct object' in French; when you have a direct object in German it takes the Akkusativ case; here you must plot these points on x,y axes and then color the ensuing picture, Yes, I believe 47 is a prime number; conjugate the verb ‘etre'; here's how to say ‘crustacean' in French; Latin? - who knows, you're on your own. Good grief! My head spinneth.

I am glad to say though, that yesterday was a pretty good day. I cannot say that there were no tears, because I have just had a confession that there were some upon awakening. But everyone made it through the day in decent spirits and didn't have as much of that hit-by-Mack-truck look about them that they have had. Maybe, just maybe, we are finding the first inkling of a system in the midst of the big, tiring mess of school. They don't really like it, but at least they are finding it. Or maybe they are just learning to be stoic.

One of the biggest challenges is logistics. If Artemis who is 13, leaves the house by 7:25 she can catch the 7:36 train and have time to lock her bike. She arrives back in the village for lunch on the train at 12:21, and if she hasn't appeared at the house by 12:27 we've agreed that I'll go drive and look for her, because she's only got 23 minutes before she's got to be back on the return bus which leaves at 12:59. If I drive her, we can leave the house at 12:53. If she's biking, she'd better leave by 12:50.

Find a Therapist

Search for a mental health professional near you.

The other kids start school at 8:00 sharp except for 4 year old Hermes who begins ecole enfantine (preschool) at 9:10. Athena (11) and Apollo (9) hop on their scooters at 7:43 and zip down the hill to school. Hermes however, needs to be at the neighborhood Pedibus stop at 8:45 to join the others for the walk to school. But only on Monday, Wednesdays, and Fridays. Tuesday and Thursday mornings he is home with me. Everybody finishes for the morning at 11:30.

Somewhere in there I try to head to the grocery store, but I'd better be savvy because it's open at 8:00 am and then closed between 12:15 and 2:00 pm and then open again til 6:30. The post office though, has its lunch between 12 and 2:30, but opens at 7 every morning.

The afternoon is more of the same with school restarting at 1:30, but then there's a staggered finish, the big kids at 3:05 and Hermes at 3:15 (??) Artemis rolls in on the 4:21 train except for Thursdays when it's the 5:21. Of course, this depends on whether or not she's been able to do the 10 minute walk to the train station in the 8 minutes she has. She hasn't missed it so far.

We've got things worked out to the minute, and I've become a chronic watch checker.

Now this is quite ironic, to which anyone who knows me well can attest. I've always been a believer in a healthy cushion of about 10 minutes either way. Which makes me often late, but hey, if you are 10 minutes late to my house, that's fine too! Hope you feel the same way! 10 minutes doesn't really show up on my radar! Until now.

One day in the first week of this, as I sat with the kids around the table trying to work out the logistics and feeling my head starting to burn, one of them exclaimed, "Now we know how Papa got the way he is!"

It's an interesting thought: are Swiss people naturally punctual or are they forced to develop that way because of The System? I have the vague feeling sometimes that there is something not quite right with all this punctuality. I would put my finger on what it is if I could just think long enough. Oh! Sorry, can't think - have to go pick someone up from school! Is that it? Is all this activity just busy work designed to keep us from thinking of anything too deeply?

In any event it is good for me, because I've been convicted the past few years of the annoyance my lateness may cause in my social circle. I really do believe that chronic lateness is the theft of other people's time, and I want to change. I hate the panicky feeling I get driving in traffic watching the minute hand of my watch on its ever steady march, telling the kids, "run! we're late again!", and the irritated look on the face of the doctor's office receptionist. I hate realizing that my friends have given me a time 30 minutes ahead of when they'd actually like to see me, on purpose, so that when I'm "late", I'm actually on time in their scheme.

So like Puddleglum I am thinking that these Swiss people are the just the chaps to get me to take a serious view on life. My, will my acquaintances back home ever be surprised! We've got time for exactly three more inhalations of air and then I've got to scoot!

***

originally posted at www.walkalongtheway.com

 

Jenny Lind Schmitt writes about engaging in education as a way of life.

more...

Subscribe to Lifestyle Design

Current Issue

Let It Go!

It can take a radical reboot to get past old hurts and injustices.