Back to school time, my friends!
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:
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.
I don’t homeschool my kids.
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:
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.
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?
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???”
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 🙂