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Last night, unfortunately, we did not play games and we did not read books. The boys were grumpy so I vetoed a game. They all said, “Eh, I don’t feel like reading,” and crashed in their beds and went to sleep.

Bear was up a little (he’s an insomniac who never sleeps all the way through the night) reading Optical Illusions by Jay Hosler. In that book, a disembodied brain travels through time with Charles Darwin, learning about evolution, eyesight, and other biology topics.

Today we all seem to be afflicted by whatever kept Verdi in bed all day yesterday.  There’s coughing and a lot of accidentally falling asleep. As in, “I’m just going to sit here for a minute,” then opening your eyes to discover half an hour’s gone by.

I have taken caffeine now, 100 mg pill shot down with a green smoothie, and that is why I am awake enough to write an entire paragraph. We had planned to attend a protest-sign workshop, then head over to protest a recent incident in which the police used public housing as a training ground, keeping residents locked in their homes the whole time. After that, I’d hoped to go to the Unitarian Universalist church’s Evensong (music and poetry based) service. The kids definitely have no energy for all of that. I can not imagine leaving them home alone for more than half an hour when they feel this gross.

The boys spent four hours this morning lethargically making up new character sheets for Dungeons & Dragons. We got take-out for lunch and they now are beginning to play a new game (not part of their regular weekly campaign with friends). This new game will be Terran’s first D&D game if I’m not mistaken.

Bear and Verdi spent a good chunk of time this morning troubleshooting the printer which was first refusing to turn on at all and then had to be reconnected to our wireless network. They figured it out all by themselves with no previous experience after much sleepy grumping at each other about what the problem might be.

So a bit of a failure of a day. It does seem like failure is a theme lately.

On the one hand, the boys are playing D&D, which means: doing research between multiple texts (three different handbooks, using the indexes and table of contents, quoting source and canon to each other and fact checking all that) and math (rolling dice and combining the numbers in various ways, adding and subtracting from their treasuries, using multiples to determine how to level up), creative writing (coming up with whole backstories, conflicts, motivations), creative geography (drawing up maps complete with grids and symbology and information about ecosystems). They are definitely doing a thing that sharpens their ability to focus and think through long problems and tie a bunch of resources together into a cohesive, presentable whole. I am glad to see them get so enthusiastic about something that they can do together, something that is not easy to do. D&D requires memorizing scores of new facts and formulas rather quickly and applying that knowledge on the fly in a complicated story problem. I think that sort of hobby makes for the best sort of childhood learning. So I am not concerned that I am neglecting them. It’s benign neglect, setting them loose in a rich environment, letting them choose between eight good ways to spend their time.

But I have other goals for them and I don’t want to give those up. Partly, I suppose, I am blogging in an attempt to learn what is preventing us from doing math and read-alouds of classics. If illness and exhaustion is really a frequent cause of not-reading-Homer, I may need to make our family motto, “Green smoothies for all!” I don’t know. May the patterns reveal themselves here.

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