A balancing act

by Mrs J


The High Divers, a band from South Carolina, play ‘Second Sunday’ on Coleman Hill: Miss J is diverted by balancing stones on the footpath

Three months is a quarter of a year or, on average, 90 days. Two months into a three-month-long summer holiday can be expressed as 66.66%. If a mother spends four hours a day encouraging her children to complete one hour’s worth of journal writing and maths, how many hours are unproductive and needlessly frustrating? Times that number by seven days a week. Times that answer by twelve weeks. If a day is 24 hours long, how many days in total has the mother spent needlessly frustrated? Express that as a percentage of her year.

Reader, our school holidays Stateside are simply too long – unless you are some kind of saint, of course. I begin to see our holiday – not to mention my life – expressed as one big maths problem…


My daughter’s Picasso-like sketch captures ‘me’ beautifully.

Fearing ‘The Summer Slide‘ (academic regression) Mr J and I work doggedly on reading, writing and arithmetic with our two children. Our return next year to the UK’s more rigorous National Curriculum makes the summer slide more troubling. We devour box-loads of books from the library, and pick out our free book from completed summer reading schemes. I incorporate maths into our grocery shopping, pizza cutting, and Master J’s ‘golf ball business plan’. Car rides create a captive audience for number bonds and times tables.

However, it takes a balance of discipline and freedom to get through a school break this long, so we also: paint and draw; photograph our hummingbirds; practice our golf swing; horse ride; swim; and even spot President Trumps’ Air Force One alongside the airfield on squadron Family Day…

It has been a busy summer for the tooth fairy too.

My daughter loses two front teeth in close succession, just like the same milk teeth cut through. Then my son needs a tooth extracted for his orthodontic work. Before his appointment we have a few minutes to spare and so check in on the restoration of Little Richard’s childhood home at its new location on Craft Street in downtown Macon. I don’t see Russ, the project’s manager, but work is coming along nicely with completed crawl space and new roof beams.

before and after

Facing up bravely to minor surgery, Master J insists that he doesn’t want any money from the tooth fairy. A tooth extraction is apparently ‘cheating’. He leaves her a note to that effect. The tooth fairy slips a book under his pillow instead:


I’m not sure the book covers meticulously checking bubble gum machine change slots… This habit won’t make my son a millionaire but does bring a wealth of excitement; this week the penny counting machine at the supermarket yields a rejected One Cent, dating from 1919.

1919 coin

Part of my balancing act is to squeeze in the odd date night with Mr J. Tonight I am bringing together Mr J, friends and neighbours, to watch a Special Screening of Brave New Jersey. But first I have to prep the house for the babysitter, make dinner, and of course find a few minutes to get ready for my hot date. Wish me luck with that! I hope to report back on the opening night of the Macon Film Festival next week. Until then, I wish you luck with your own balancing act.


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