I thought I knew my children, but I learned so much more about them in isolation

If there's anything that isolation time has shown me (other than that I'm no teacher and have less patience than I thought), it's just how different my two boys are.

I know that, as individuals, they're both unique with their own personalities, mannerisms and general approach to life. But, having spent so much intensive time with them, I almost feel like I've gotten to know them on a deeper level. 

With Mr nine, I've gained a whole new insight into how he approaches, or rather procrastinates, about schoolwork, while Mr four has shown resilience and independence like never before. 

When lockdown commenced, a lot of people (myself included) assumed that I was going to have my work cut out having Mr four at home. After all, the need for constant entertainment, interaction and boundless energy was exhausting enough for the two days a week he was already home. 

I assumed that Mr nine would be the easy one. Once we'd got to grips with the juggle of technology and timetables I, stupidly, assumed that he'd be easy enough to manage. 

Turns out I was wrong on both counts. 

From day one, Mr nine has challenged the idea that homeschool was in any way about learning. In his eyes, homeschool is defined as an extended holiday, hours of play time (he calls it PE, but that's fooling no one) and getting away with minimal work. 

It involves randomly bursting into Fortnite dance moves – he looks like he needs some kind of medication – and generally getting distracted by shiny objects. It's exhausting and painful. 

Every day's a battle. 

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I hover over him like a hawk or sit with him to keep him on track. I have to draw him back to task about 53,5794 times an hour and this number is only exceeded by the times I lose my cool. 

I have to outline the day's work and the minimal he needs to do, while restraining him from leaping up to look out the window at a passing bird. He misses his mates and constantly wants to Zoom, while I persistently tell him he's NOT possibly hungry again. 

It's honestly been non-stop. 

Meanwhile, Mr four has embraced the time off. Give him a task and he's onto it with only the occasional need for encouragement.  He's ploughed through some age appropriate maths books, coloured in, painted and learnt to ride his big boy bike.

He's been relatively tantrum free and there's always limited resistance to doing even the most boring of chores. Conversely "Yes, for the 50th time Mr nine, we DO all HAVE to help tidy up this house if we don't want rats moving in."

Sure, Mr four's constantly busy and the incessant chatter can leave me feeling mentally drained. But I admire his enthusiasm and commitment to please and love that he's happy to hang with only me. Turns out, it's been far less stressful with him than I first thought. 

However, while this whole experience has shown how different my sons are from each other, it's also made me realise how similar they are to us. As my husband types away diligently at his desk barely coming up for breath, I stare out the window at the clouds. 

I'll leave you to guess which son is similar to who.  


 

This article I thought I knew my children, but I learned so much more about them in isolation was originally published in Essential Kids.

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