It has been ten years and I just purchased a laptop.
I am finally able to conduct my research and share my findings without having to sneak off to a remote corner of the house, counting the seconds until my presence is missed and someone comes looking for me. For the first time, I can finally sit among the Savages, pretending to be involved in their goings-on while really I am in my own little cyber-world. Being male, none of them care if I am actually paying attention, of course - they just need the reassurance of my presence to go on about their business.
Right now, one of the small ones (age 7) is excitedly trying to teach the 36-year-old how to play a game that involves an exchange of cards with little monsters on them whose names we are all expected to know by now. The reluctant student announces that he has been given a little monster named Krabby and warns me not to say what I'm thinking. Meanwhile, the young master is delightedly using a complicated set of rules he has no-doubt made up on his own to befuddle his opponent, who is still trying to figure out the rule-book that came with the cards.
Tribe Elder: I think I like Candyland better.
Young Master: Candyland is for babies.
Tribe Elder: At least I don't have to deal with being sent to the Underworld...
Bedtime for the others has (fortunately) already happened. The littlest one (age 3) nursed to sleep in the rocking chair while watching a really bad Disney movie about soccer-playing kids and a goat. The biggest one (age 10) actually took the dog and went to bed without a problem. He must really be sick and not faking it this time.
Meanwhile, the house that I spent 10 solid hours cleaning last weekend is already destroyed. It looked great for about 10 minutes. One of my friends has a sign that says "Cleaning your house while the kids are growing up is like shoveling snow while it is still snowing." Or something like that. Anyway, it's absolutely true. Nevertheless, this knowledge still doesn't prevent me from trying like crazy to keep the place picked up. The only thing that really works? Send them away for the weekend and clean it myself. Some families can function in a messy house, and in many homeschooling families it is almost a badge of honor, but not us. We need order, we need neatness, we need structure - and yet we can't seem to maintain it for long. What can I say? It's a constant struggle. So tonight after the card-trading lesson is finally over and the young master finally tucked into his bed, we will look around, sigh deeply, and begin the nightly ritual of putting the house back together. We might get to bed by midnight. Much later if we want to read or watch a movie.
Young Master: He's dead! I win! (sings triumphant song)
Okay, time to put him to bed and party down...