Two kittens

After the kids’ school closed from the virus, I knew the trip we had tickets for this summer to New York wasn’t going to happen. I am old enough to know this isn’t a real problem. But I had promised the kids they could get a cat after the trip to New York. I thought the best way to break the news to the kids about New York was to get the cat early.

My philosophy as a parent is you should always bring something sweet to offset the bitterness that unavoidably happens in life. This is why we headed to the shelter.

This would be our fourth trip to the shelter in the last two months which would make this our fourth animal. Some people go to look at animals, we go more with the idea that we aren’t leaving until we get an animal. It’s the same results just a little different timeline.

We planned to get one cat, but we left with two kittens. It should go without saying that my husband wasn’t there. I actually don’t even know if I mentioned formally to him we were getting a cat.

We happened to run into the dog trainer that helped us get our dogs, and he suggested somewhat loudly that I needed professional help. Statements like this should never deter ideas with merit.

We were re-inventing our lifestyle, the kids were no longer attending school, and we would potentially be quarantined for weeks.

As it is, the kittens have entertained our kids for hours, and when they get bored with the kittens, the kids can play with one of our three dogs. We made sure to get the dogs in sizes small, medium and large.

The other life strategy we went with for during this pandemic was the importance of eating tater tots regularly. I also bribed the kids with sugar to do their homework from school.

At first, I used this scientific method of positive behavior intervention with the spirited child that sat under the table. Frankly, I found it to be such an effective teaching strategy that I branched out to apply it to all my kids. Some kids do better when they can eat the sugary item while they do the homework, and some kids do better when they can eat the sugar after the homework is done.

I’m just going to assume it takes above average talent from someone like myself to recognize these little tricks of the trade and know which strategy to apply.

I also learned how to rephrase our daily living into “educational opportunities.”

Recess or child-directed play was a large staple of our household. Theatrical studies meant we watched a movie. Karaoke became musical class. Independent study is when I talked to one of my mom friends or my dad friend on the phone.

We also had a tutor that lived in our house that went by the name of Alexa. I imagine she would have been fired in most educational settings for her ability to be inappropriate, but I couldn’t bring myself to spend the money to hire someone else, so we worked with her the best we could.

I am thankful to say that our school has worked really hard to partner with us, so we can make this homeschool environment work to the best of our ability. The kids all have a teacher in their upcoming grade that has graciously agreed to help our family all next year with curriculum and strategies.

As we wrap up our school year, we have also made the choice to continue to homeschool next year. Our youngest daughter has a lung disease from being born 1lb 11oz, and we don’t feel comfortable with any of our kids going to school because of this.

We are deeply invested in our kids’ partner school. We think it provides them with a multitude of settings that organically create opportunities for our kids to learn how to be the best version of themselves. These opportunities we really cannot recreate at home.

My husband and I have made jokes that the message at school has been, “THOSE parents are homeschooling THOSE kids?” and they are helping out of a moral obligation to save us from ourselves.

It literally reminds me of when I called my uncle once after my dad died. I don’t remember exactly what I said, just that I wanted to make sure the heater I was wiring into our house was 120 volts. The reason for this question is you can’t survive 220 volts of electricity if you accidentally shock yourself. I just remember what felt like a very loud pause on the phone and my uncle telling me, in the voice only a Gehlhausen has, not to do anything.

He came over in what felt like ten minutes, and we all watched him wire in our space heater, and I said see that was really easy, right?