My boy wakes up early. He always has, and even if his normal rising hour has been mercifully pushed back over the years from 5:00am to 7:00am, he is always the first one awake in our house. Only on very rare occasions have we ever had to set an alarm. Noah is our alarm.

And the boy’s brain is always working. When those baby blues pop open, a story pops out of his mouth right along with it. A story he needs to tell to me, in painstaking detail, immediately. A story that usually wakes up the rest of the household, and so starts our day. I’ve totally forgotten how it feels to wake up naturally in the morning.

There are some advantages. For one, it is impossible to be grumpy when you’re woken up to a little face singing, “Four hugs a day, that is the minimum!” (Well, the song plus coffee always puts me in a good mood.) And two, Noah and I (or his dad) usually have anywhere from fifteen minutes to half an hour of alone time. Today, it was me and Noah and reading practice, accompanied with oatmeal and grapefruit.

I was happy to get the reading practice in because, shortly after, we left the house and drove downtown to Centre communidée, a centre for homeschooling families in the Greater Montreal area. It was a place I visited for the first time last year, with Leila in tow for Little Kids Day. It felt good to be going with all three of them this time. Leila settled in with a bunch of new toys and books. Noah and I played foosball before he found a pack of boys to play with. Zahra joined the book club and then the sketching club. We ate lunch there and I attended an information session on how the centre works. They have drama club, coding club, art class, cooperative games day, science club, French and Arabic lessons, math club, cross country skiing club, Dungeons & Dragons. On Fridays, lots of families stay late and are joined by the parents who are working during the week. Parents offer classes and lead field trips on Tuesdays.

I love everything about it. Except that it’s downtown. Still thinking about it… On the other hand, it’s only 4km away from the Allez Up! rock climbing centre, and so that’s where we met up with friends after our day at Centre communidée.

IMG_6418The kids bouldered and I passed an accreditation test so that I could belay the kids. They have a strict 14 and up policy when it comes to kids, so even though Zahra is accredited at Horizon Roc, they won’t let her pass an accreditation test at Allez Up! That was disappointing. On the other hand, they do have five or six auto-belay walls, which meant that all the kids could climb (and me, too!).

After climbing, we had dinner downtown and then headed home in the dark. We discussed becoming members at Centre communidée. The kids are really enthusiastic about it, and we talked about the idea of coming once or twice a week and spending a full day there, or half a day and then rock climbing for the second half. Lots to think about.