Is this what I imagined?

Distraction and endless chattering while we're trying to get schoolwork done plagues us. Visual stimulation of any kind plagues us during schoolwork also. So do many other things. In fact, I have twice now successfully coaxed the math problems out of my son by encouraging him to just wait to make that barfing noise so he could use it as a personal reward for finishing a problem. (Have you heard a kid making a barfing noise every twenty seconds while he does math problems? It's something special.)

I imagined a world where all three studying children could sit at the same table instead of separating them into various rooms. I could float cheerfully around with my cup of peppermint-mocha flavored-coffee as each one in turn asks politely for assistance. Each one works diligently without being nagged. Perhaps if I eliminated some of the distraction? The memory of using anti-cheater folders to put up around us during tests in elementary school popped into my mind. 

So when a big box from Amazon subscribe and save arrived the other day, I thought--Aha! A few snips and I have cubicles. Ta-dah!


 For a few glorious minutes, this actually worked. Mark had not yet lobbed his the plastic slug action figure you can see at his right hand there grenade-like upon his sister, who needed help with prime numbers. His sister had not yet shrieked and with some spastic action knocked the whole table of precariously arranged corrugated cardboard over onto both of her brothers like dominoes like she may have done the other day. Her brother had not yet drawn on the new "study carrel," or created a stiff breeze by fanning it, or proclaimed that it was "too boring," or mentioned that he could "still see" the other kid. The coffee was already gone, but otherwise--this was great! We were getting.stuff.done.

As often happens at triumphant moments like this, suddenly it occurred to me that I was missing someone. The smallest of all.

After I retrieved her from the Kleenex, I brought her in with the rest of us. I could say she learned how to sweep, just looks that way. She proceeded to swing that thing around like a baton before toddling off again, where I found her showing off her new climbing skills. So much for eliminating distraction for the others. Oh, and now here come my scholars' aforementioned difficulties with personal relationships and studies in physics.

But you know? It was one of the better working days we've had. This is what it looks like when the ideal meets the reality; and reality grabs it by the shoulders and gives it a big sloppy kiss.