My Homeschooling Confessions

My Homeschooling Confessions

Back to school time, my friends!

Or not.

I haven’t talked about homeschooling on this blog yet, mainly because when I mention it to people at first, I often get a look like this:

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I get it.

Even though it’s becoming more and more common, it’s still sort of a fringe thing and a lot of people have yet to know any of the thousands of self directed learners that are quietly kicking ass out there in the world.

Because I’m in a mood, I’m just straight up going to tell you a few things that might surprise you about how my family does it.

I’m coming clean, people!

If you’re a homeschooler, please feel free to make your own confession in the comments at the end. I think we could all afford to let our hair down a bit.

If your kids are attending a traditional school, my hope is that this post will entertain and enlighten you just enough to keep you from putting me in the weirdo box.

Here goes:

I don’t homeschool my kids.

Wait, what?

There are those parents who sit their kids at a table and “do school,” with their state standards in one hand and an American flag/bible/green smoothie/Harvard brochure (take your pick– I might as well offend everyone) in the other.

The best kept secret is that most kids are perfectly capable and completely driven to learn, once released from the system of compulsory schooling. Homeschooling is not something that’s done to anyone. As for me, I research, pay, drive, fiercely defend free time, and help out when asked.

Also, I make a stupid number of grilled cheese sandwiches.

I don’t want to be with them all the time.

“I’d go crazy if I were with my kids all day!” people say.

Although I do know people, nice people, not lunatics, who don’t seem to need a time-out from their kids, I for one require frequent  breaks from my boys and their scintillating conversations around Minecraft, parkour, basketball and farting.

Of course, I’m always there for the wholesome family dinners and in depth discussions on the plight of global indigenous people (a mom can dream), I make sure to have occasional social plans that do not include my boys, and they have plenty of opportunities each week to get away from their ever-loving mother. Thus, we enjoy domestic bliss!

And also not killing each other.

I don’t have teaching credentials, or even a college degree.

And as if that’s not enough, I hardly remember any math beyond the fifth grade level, and am pretty iffy on the proper use of a semi-colon. I’m not proud of this, in fact, I spend a lot of time trying to fill in gaps in my own education.

But guess what?

Go online and take a look at what is now available free, to those who want to learn. Boy howdy, things have changed in the past twenty years! Add to this the fact that there are classes, homeschool co-ops, the help of smart friends, etc., and I can sleep pretty well knowing my kids aren’t going to end up like this:

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I get bored sometimes.

This is a tough one, since whining about boredom can get you an epic eye roll from stressed out moms with too much to do and not enough time, money, or both. It’s not fair that our culture expects so much of women and gives so little support, and I know a few of you would probably give your right arm and last Ambien for a little boredom in your life.

Roll your eyes, sister, feel free!

But to the mothers who look at me and say, “I could never homeschool, I’d be so bored!” let me tell you that I do get bored. Because they are not quite old enough to go to the beach or run around town on their own, I go with them. I wait while they are in a science class, or basketball practice. There are days when I’m completely swallowed in the mind numbing dullness of just waiting.

Oh well, big f’n deal. You can always piss away the hours working on your blog 🙂

I had a career, and sometimes I miss it.

There is an assumption people sometimes make about parents who choose to quit their job to be at home with their kids, and that is that they must not have had much of a job to quit in the first place.

Once upon a time, I had a career and it was lucrative, rewarding and fun, but as we learned more about homeschooling, it became clear to my husband and me that we wanted to give it a shot. We loved the freedom of it and I was up for the challenge.

And this is a topic for another post, but it has to be said, so I’m saying it: I am aware that we were crazy fortunate to be able to make that decision.

Here’s the thing, it’s not that you can’t work full-time and travel this educational path, you can, mainly because this path is one you make yourself. But it’s a trickier balance, and one I couldn’t quite figure out, even though I tried.

So, while I miss being offered coffee, hearing, “good job!”, and working for real live dollars that would come in very handy, it’s totally worth it.

My kids have never written a book report or done a science fair project.

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The upside of this is that I’ve never had to force, bribe or bully them into doing a book report/science fair project, and p.s., we’ve saved major bucks on Mentos and Pepsi.

The downside is that they might never make it in The Real World without the experience of the book report/science fair project, and will probably live at home until their mid-thirties, playing video games in our garage.

Welp, hindsight is 20/20, people.

I consider homeschooling my job.

I take it seriously, and even if we spend some days playing Battleship in our jammies, most of the time we have shit to do, even if it doesn’t look like it to you. So, while I totally love the fact that we have the freedom in our schedule to help friends out when they need it, I don’t call you at your office and ask you to come wait for the cable guy for me, since “you don’t work”, because that would be obnoxious, right?

Right.

I am not any more patient than you.

Here’s something we homeschoolers hear a lot: “I gotta hand it to you. I wouldn’t have the patience.”

Newsflash– I don’t have the patience either! Holy shit– someone call the patience police!

Of course,  I make it a little easier on myself by not forcing my kids to do book reports/science fair projects (sorry, I couldn’t resist), but my temper flares up big-time when we’re running late. I lecture, I yell sometimes, I just pretty much lose it in general. The only difference is that when I screw up, I have the luxury of time during the day to breathe, apologize, and move forward. It’s true that since we’re together more, there’s more opportunity for conflict.

But there’s also more time for the good stuff too, including practicing the art of repair.

I sometimes worry about what my kids are missing.

It might surprise you to know that I’m not talking about social stuff. Homeschoolers are nothing if not social, and I’m actually so bored by that worn out argument, circa 1970, that I can’t even bring myself to write about it.

No, instead I worry that they might not know all the words to the Star Spangled Banner, how to locate the spleen in a frog, make a spitball or work a combination lock.

I wonder if my youngest will have to teach himself cursive when the zombie apocalypse happens and the only people who survive are cursive-writing people, which might be unlikely, but this is where my mind goes at night, you guys.

For every hour someone else spends worrying about whether their kid will get into the gifted and talented magnet, I spend an hour wondering if my kids will look at me one day and say, “WTF were you thinking, Mom???”

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And maybe that’s our common ground.

We’re all doing our best, and it still might not be good enough, whether we checked all the boxes, or ignored the boxes completely. In reality, most of us fall somewhere in between. We all lose our patience, need a break, adore our kids and hope for the best.

Here’s to a great year ahead, whatever path you make 🙂

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Do What You Love (and also some stuff you don’t)

Do What You Love (and also some stuff you don’t)

You know how everyone says that hitting midlife is so awesome for women because we stop caring what anyone else thinks and can finally be who we are, without striving to live up to some weird made up standard “out there?”

Well all of that may be true but, as always, I gotta flip that shit over and look at the underbelly, because I’ve got an issue.

The truth is that while I am happy to stop torturing myself over the fact that I suck at thank-you notes and drink straight out of the milk carton (sorry),  some of those old self-imposed external expectations worked pretty well, and I miss them.

Take, for one, staying in shape.

Fifteen years ago, I used to go to the gym regularly and I felt great! It was just a part of my every day, a healthy habit. But make no mistake, it was fueled by the mirror and the x-boyfriend and the stupid asshole size whatever-it-was that I thought I needed to be.

All of that is gone, and I am thrilled.

But what motivates me now? If it’s no longer the fear of not measuring up, then what? Of course I want to be healthy as I age, to be there for my kids and husband, to feel strong.

I get it.

But in the face of a night out with girlfriends and plate of garlic fries, let’s just say they those goals get a little bit fuzzy around the edges.

Garlic fries are so yummy, you guys.

And fifty year old me has been a good girl for long enough.

But just recently, I stumbled into a strategy* that totally works for me, and because this blog is all about helping the world, I will let you in on the secret now.

By utilizing the energy of my largely untapped and renewable resource, anger, I feel like maybe I’ve figured out the secret to bringing about positive change in my life, or at least getting some shit done.

Here’s an example: Yesterday, I knew I should go to the gym. (One thing I will never discuss at length here is exercise. 1. Because there are lots of people who do that and know what they’re talking about, and 2. Because zzzzzzzz…..) Anyway, I knew I should go, but I just didn’t want to.

Like I seriously didn’t want to.

I was pissed that I had to take time out of my busy life of doing things that I can’t explain right now but that are very important (not), VERY important (no, seriously not), and the nagging awareness I had that, at my age, it is more important than ever to stay active just served to make me feel more resentful, and therefor more likely to drink all the wine.

Hold up for a sec —

Before any of you leave comments suggesting I simply find an activity I enjoy, like salsa dancing or whatever, let me say that I’m a grown-ass woman. I lived through Jazzercise and Tae Bo and that dumb kind of walking where you wag your ass around, and it all sucks. But I want to be healthy, so I’m committed to figuring it out. (If the tone of this post is not to your liking, I totally get it. Feel free to skip the rest and go do your Prancersize.) giphy

Anyway, yesterday, for some reason,  I did not do what I usually do, which is try to make myself want to exercise. Instead, I let myself be pissed at a glaring flaw in the otherwise perfect human machine, which is that you have to drag it off the couch and make it sweat and breathe hard if you want it to work right. And even if you somehow managed to do that today, you just have to wake up tomorrow and do it all again!

Intelligent design? I think not.

So I did what I so often do, I vented a little on Facebook:

“Damn you bastard gym! I’m mad I have go to you and sweat in you and smell your stinky smell and listen to your bad pop music and to your grunting hairy guys! I give you thirty minutes. That’s all you get of my precious day.”

Just admitting how I really feel about the whole exercise thing gave me a boost.

This is bullshit, I thought, pulling on my Target sports bra. What a total pain in the ass, I musedas I closed my locker next to a naked water aerobics lady who seemed perfectly happy being there.

Weirdo.

Oh, I kid.

Anyway, before I knew it, I’d done thirty minutes of something that felt like exercise and was free to go! Changing in the locker room, right next to the same lady from before (why does that always happen?), I realized that a good chunk of the negative shit I have around going to the gym is really just me fighting my nature.

It turns out, I don’t have to want to exercise, or go to the gynecologist, or stand and chat with my elderly Republican neighbor with the hair weave who is just a really lonely guy, to do it.

I and I do want to do it. Or at least, I want to have done it. 

Feeling bad about the fact that you feel bad, only makes you feel worse. (There’s some Buddhism in there somewhere, but I can’t exactly find it.)

So, thus concludes the probably one and only fitness tip you’ll ever get from me. Also, I’m not giving up the fries.

(*This might not work for you, especially if you’re a nice person.)

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Back In the Saddle

Back In the Saddle

Well, hello there!

What’s that law that says a body at rest stays at rest? I have come to the conclusion that this also applies to laptops, since it’s been full on forever since I posted here.

I have some reasons for blowing off my blog lately and they go like this:

It’s summer, which means my kids are home, which means more requests to drive them all over the godforsaken universe Los Angeles. barefoot-414385__180There are also more dirty dishes, more brother on brother fights, more late nights, and more sudden uncontrollable urges to pile everyone in the car to get salted caramel frozen yogurt. In other word, there’s shit to do, y’all.

 Camp NaNOWriMo. I signed up, announced it here and (spoiler alert) totally failed at it.

Lucky for me, failing is the new winning! And because I failed at completing my word-count goal for the month of July , I finally learned that I don’t do so well with external rewards and “challenges” to make me do things, even if they’re things I really want to do.

Maybe you’re like that too. To find out, take this short quiz: When someone asks you to join their “30 Days of Tongue-Kissing Selfies With Your Spouse” challenge, do you right away kind of know on some very deep cellular level that those are not your people? If so, you’re like me!

While it might be a very good thing if I would meditate daily, write a screenplay or eat more legumes, signing up for that kind of accountability mind trick is not the way to get me there. Unfortunately, I’m just not that motivated by fear of public shaming. If I was that scared of shame I would never have given myself a home perm or done all that musical theatre in my twenties.

So I failed at writing 30,000 words of a fictional story during the month of July, but I succeeded at writing 16,000. And guess what? No one gives a shit. Yay!

Trump. Unknown-1I’m sure I could just stop right there because you probably completely get why I couldn’t bring myself to write blog posts about my little life in the San Fernando Valley when our country is fucking itself up so royally. Did I spend more time than I should have watching videos like this? Yes. Could I have used that time to write? Does it do any good to watch Trump flaunt his idiocy? Would my time be better used getting active in local politics instead of eating my weight in pickle flavored potato chips and inhaling toxic youtube videos? Yes, no, yes and stop yelling at me.

Black people keep getting shot by police, like, just because they’re black. And yes, some police are  getting shot too. Everyone keeps getting fucking shot, you guys! And  if while all that is happening, I sit around and blog about stuff like menstruation and Facebook  I can’t help but imagine people doing this:

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It’s not that there haven’t been things happening in my life that I want to write about. Plenty of things happened this summer which I might eventually share here, but for now just let me just get you up to speed:

Our family road trip was great, and by great I mean that I saw parts of the United States I’d never seen before, we all still love each other, and only one of us got food poisoning from a  corn dog. Unknown-3

In July, my husband took the boys with him to the east coast for five days and I had the house to myself, which hasn’t happened in, well, ever.

No, wait. Go back and read that last thing again. If you’re a mom with kids, feel free to flip me off for even complaining for one second about the chaos of summer break.

I know, Mama. I know.

Having that time to myself was so great. Now, I could have used that time to write, but did I?

(I think we’ve established that that’s a negatory.)

Instead, I spent the time making these and binge watching all five seasons of Girls on HBO.  I did, however clean my venetian blinds, which took three whole hours, so, you know, props to me.

I also read a whole bunch of memoirs, including Lit, Cherry, Slow Motion and Safekeeping. All wonderful. All make me want to stop writing and take up scrapbooking.

And finally, there’s another thing.

Recently I learned that my dear friend, therapist, and mentor will not survive the cancer that she discovered not even a year ago. (Have I mentioned how much I hate cancer? You too? No shit.)

She is an angel to me and many people I know and, you’ll just have to trust me on this, if you knew her, you too would want to throw in the towel on trying to make sense of life and why it ends when it does.

You’d shake your weak mortal fist at the sky and tell whoever is or isn’t up their that they have lousy fucking judgement! Get it together, would you??! You’d bring wine and food to the family of your dying friend and feel helpless in the face of their suffering. And you’d think about how your own mother died almost exactly a year ago, and how, even though you were there in the room with her when her gaze went fixed and the nurse turned off the machine, you didn’t feel it like this, like you do now.

And the force of what you’re feeling now would pull the memory of your mother up,

up,

by the roots,

like it

or not.

Well, at least that’s what it’s like for me.

So, thanks for reading, and for visiting here again even though I disappeared for a bit. We all need to give ourselves permission to disappear, to have the chips and drop the ball occasionally, right?

There’s your thirty day challenge, right there: Give yourself a goddamn break. It’s ok.

It’s really ok.

 

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