Thursday, August 14, 2008

“All Textbooks Must Be Covered”

The first year my children went to a traditional school, I almost passed out upon reading these words: “All textbooks must be covered.” When referring to guidelines for Individual Educational Plans to be submitted to our local district for approval prior to a year of homeschooling, for a textbook to be listed we were expected to “cover” 90% of the material in the book. So when I saw this, I was thinking we were expected to actually read the textbooks over the summer.

Parochial school students who borrow their required textbooks from the school district are expected to pick up their books from BOCES in Hampton Bays. This is just one of the minor inconveniences shouldered by private school students. We pay the taxes for these books, whether we use them or not. We are expected to do all the running around. We receive a postcard that states our textbooks are ready. At that time, we bring in the old ones and pick up the new ones.

That first year, the postcard stated that I was expected to pick up the books the week of July 24-28. My due date was upon me and I asked a friend to drive us out there on July 24.

Now in retrospect, I believe I started to go into early stages of labor on July 23. That was our 13th wedding anniversary. My in-laws came out to baby-sit while we went out for a beautiful lunch at a first-class brunch buffet. (That is the last time we went out to eat together, if you don’t count the two weddings we went to this summer.) They had fresh fruit, scrumptious desserts, and freshly squeezed juices of the day.

My favorite was the omelet station, where the chef would put in any of the many ingredients that were on display. I boldly requested an omelet with the works. My husband could not believe the amount of food I was able to put down. You literally could have rolled me out of there. I did not feel able to walk to the car, and I asked him to get the car and pick me up at the door. I started having contractions in the car from being so full. When I got home, I fell asleep for a good three hours.

On the morning of July 24, I was feeling really uncomfortable. I could feel the baby’s head pressing down on my pelvis. I said not a word to my friend, but was not very talkative. I was a little aggravated with the young ladies at BOCES, who impatiently waited for me to waddle from desk to desk, signing for the books. I carried not a single one, but piled them all in my children’s backpacks and made them carry them to the car.

My friend gave me a refresher course in covering textbooks, old-school-style. I had saved lots of paper bags from the grocery store. The task seemed to me to be a gargantuan one. One of the grades required workbooks be covered as well. We guessed that we were supposed to cut out pieces of cardboard from cereal boxes to support the paper covers. This was pretty tricky work. I put the piles of books in the dining room, alongside the store-bought supplies that I had picked up as soon as Walmart had them stocked the first week of July. I was so relieved that I had all of them before the baby had come.

My sister came to help out the third week after the baby came. She covered each and every book for me, decorating the covers with whimsical curly-cues and flowers. I thought of her appreciatively as I covered the books by myself this year, a three-night chore. I finally discovered that contact paper was the cover of choice for workbooks; I went through a 24-foot roll.

They are all set now, neatly stacked as in years past. New sneakers are sitting pristinely white in their boxes. Supplies are in their boxes, entrusted to my little ones to keep safe in their rooms. Hairs have been cut. 75% of the reading and written summer work has been completed, without much nudging from me. What was a mystery that first year has become an efficient system for preparing for school.

Aah, I am so happy that covering textbooks does not require that we actually pre-read them!


Alice Gunther said...

Great story!

Glad you are all ready!

Loren Christie said...

Doesn't everything seems so much more overwhelming when you are about to go into labor? With the last baby, the doctor sent us to the mall to progress my labor. Walking the length of it was like climbing Mount Everest...I almost strangled the people stationed at center kiosks selling hand cream, and one unlucky Met Life Representative.