Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Never say never

*disclaimer before you start reading and get all riled up at me.  I have NO problem with people who choose to homeschool. Some of my dearest friends homeschool.  Some of those friends now have college age kids and if my children end up anything like their grown children I will be one happy mom.

I’ve never wanted to homeschool.  I don’t look good in denim skirts and, frankly, white Keds just get dirty too quickly.

There was a time that I was adamant that I would NEVER homeschool.  While other little girls played imaginary games where their stuffed animals were pupils and they were teachers I was never that girl.   I preferred to spend hours in Barbie land.  Teaching just wasn’t in me.

After I had kids I had a little change of heart where I told the Lord that if it was NECESSARY, life and death, and he laid it on my heart I would consider homeschooling.  I warned Him that there would probably be some Gideon-like antics on my part to be sure that I was hearing correctly.  I even got a fleece ready.

Its not just that I don’t feel called to be a teacher, its also that I feel school and being in the world and being salt and light is important.  Every family has to make the decisions that they feel are best for themselves and for us we felt like school was it.  And every time I saw an article posted to Facebook about how much smarter homeschooled kids are, or comments from the moms who just loooovvvveee all that togetherness & pj time and they have with their kids and all the “amazing” projects they do, or a clip on Pinterest about how schooling at home is the way that it SHOULD be done (i.e. we are doing it right and the rest of you are doing it wrong) my resolve to NOT homeschool got stronger.

Then along came Jake.  I felt strongly that with his social issues he needed to be in the classroom with other kids.  There are a myriad of social interactions every day at school and all of them are important for him to learn to navigate the circus of life.  Deep sigh of relief.

Jake and Mrs. Edens - 1st grade teacher extraordinaire
Then came Ainsley, our social butterfly.  On Jake’s first day of kindergarten I had to drag her out of the room.  By the time I got her brother settled she had already made herself familiar with the costume center and was dressed in fairy wings.  At the end of each day when we talk about our favorite part of the day 99% of the time Ainsley’s answer is “the whole part where I was at school”, or some variation of that.  When she got the stomach bug back in January the first thing she said after she threw up was “oh no, what if I can’t go to school on Monday.”  This girl seriously loves school.  And school seriously loves her back.  Again, whew!  Dodged the homeschool bullet for another kid.

Ainsley with Mrs. Zwart and Mrs. Williams - I love these two ladies!

Then came Reid.  Darn that kid.  He has screwed everything up.  He still naps 2 hours a day and sleeps 11 hours a night.  He plays hard and sleeps harder.  I’ve waited all year for him to grow out of his need for naps but it hasn’t happened.  That combined with his delay in developing some of his emotional maturity had made me a nervous wreck about kindergarten.  I didn’t want to hold him back if it wasn’t necessary but I just wasn’t sure!  And he was so excited about starting real school like Jake and Ains.  And one day it hit me – we have this next year in Kansas to be more flexible then we have ever been before.  Plus, Ryan will be around more than he has ever been before.  Reid & Ryan are my two peas in a pod. I hated the idea of having Reid in school all day while Ryan was home.   So everything has changed – but in a way I am super excited about.  I am going to keep Reid and Jane Dare home next year and do preschool & kindergarten at home.  Obviously I have no idea what I am doing however, I don’t feel a lot of pressure.  My reasoning is that if it goes great and Reid matures and learns a lot he can start 1st grade when we get back to Pinehurst Elementary.  If it doesn’t go so well and he doesn’t reach the standards I will set then when we get back he will start Kindergarten.  Either way it’s a win.  If we succeed I will have a fun year at home with him and send him to school confident that he is ready.  If I don’t succeed I still will have a fun year with him and get to send him to Kindergarten with the same teachers that Jake and Ainsley had – two of my favorite teachers on this planet.  Win-win.

So, the next step is planning mode. I need suggestions to help us have a successful year of kindergarten at home.  Ready? Go!

Friday, May 24, 2013

Running is my time to think.  To process life, come up with plans, to dream up schemes and ideas.  It truly is time to give me some sanity.  Never has that been more clear to me than in the past few days when I haven't been able to run due to a sore knee.  I was pretty dern cranky I will tell you.  I cried a lot, at the drop of a hat, for no apparent reason.  If I thought trying to keep a marathon training scheduling going while also single parenting was tough I had obviously forgotten what its like to do the total opposite.  Pretty much just as tough.
So after some rest, lots of ice and a few sessions with a foam roller I set out on an easy run this morning.  It was so nice to let my brain go and work through all that is going on in our life right now.  At the top of my mental "need to process list" was Jake's terrible, no good, very bad day that he had yesterday.  There are so many things going on in his little life that I can't control and after I'm done being strong and sure for him I need some time to have a little break down session of my own.  Or, more than one.  I realized today that I have my own stages of grief, so to speak, that I work through when something happens to my kids.
The first is tears.  I cry for them and with them.  Nothing hurts this mama's heart worse than seeing the pain of rejection on my kiddos' face.
The second stage is talking.  I feel the need to tell anyone who will listen to me about what happened. I need to feel their support and, to be honest, shared horror at the trial that has beset my sweet baby.  If I can't find someone to talk to then I will usually post it as a status update on facebook.  Nothing makes me feel better than 39 comments all decrying the grievous act(s) against my child.
The third stage is the one that I worked through this morning on my run.  It involves daydreaming about how to maturely handle the situation as a wise and calm parent.  For example, today I imagined running into a certain child in the hall, gently taking him aside to talk to him and patiently explaining to him how disappointed I am by his actions.  It goes something like this:
 "Listen you little
if you ever tell my kid that he isplease don't tell my kid that he is weird
again I will break youit hurts his feelings and makes him very sad
I will hunt you down when you least expect it and ...
You see, calm, mature, wise and I'm sure it would really get through to that child that he shouldn't say unkind words to my son.  In reality though I do nothing of the sort.  I really thought about and decided that even saying something to the kid's mom wasn't right at this time.  Jake does do some things that are weird and as much as I want to put a protective bubble around him I know that I can't.  And as he gets older the other kids are going to notice some of his quirks more and more.  I need to pick my battles.  And Jake is going to have to learn that certain things, like carrying a pink, stuffed guinea pig to school every day, are going to cause him to get some unwanted attention.  Its a social norm thing that most kids learn at an early age, and it comes naturally, I think. But for Jake those norms aren't as obvious. And I fear that he is going to have to go through a lot worse than just someone calling him weird to get him to change some of his behaviors.
For me that means a future with lots of tears, lots of ranting facebook status updates, and plenty of miles.