I received a group text from a mom I know encouraging a number of us to gather at a local eatery after drop-off the first day of school.
Join us for the 3rd annual “1st day of school mourning” (I mean morning) after drop off…
One women responded she would be there after swimming from her puddle of tears, and another asked if it was necessary to be in mourning. A lot of jokes were made, and I laughed, too, but in a more melancholy tone.
In comparison, my anxiety over getting my kids back in school was from a completely different perspective. I wanted to be back at our kitchen table, learning geography and history with them. I wanted the excuse to be involved in them instead of in my writing, making headway with their learning, and getting them to ask questions and seeing them get excited about learning.
Don’t get me wrong; I’m no saint. It isn’t like we have this idyllic Norman Rockwell existence, as my boys and their farts will attest. (And those emissions often interrupt the most important point of the history lesson, too, and are followed by uproarious laughter.) But in spite of the frequent, necessary evacuation drills, we usually get through our day, and school is like eating an elephant – one bite at a time. I love the organized chaos that we have, the schedule we cannot, no matter how hard we try, adhere to, and the accomplishment that we still get our stuff done anyway, somehow, through my cajoling and threats of no more TV ever, or extra math pages. No, it isn’t all rainbows and unicorns, but I like the dogged, pragmatic, plodding that goes with the territory of home schooling. And the rewards can’t be beat.
My ten-year-old recently gave his first public speech, (he asked specifically to deliver it to the largest audience possible at a gathering we were attending). I helped him write it, but the laughs he got were all his, and the applause, too, except for a few parents who clapped me on the back. I got to experience his success in a much more profound way because I shared so intimately in its development.
Remember that commercial that shows every year: ♪♫ “It”s the most wonderful time of the year!”♫♪. It’s not a Christmas commercial, but a Back-to-School ad for a major retailer, and it shows the parents skipping and dancing down the aisles, loading their carts with school gear. I laughed when I saw that commercial, but as a home schooling mom, I think I speak for many of us when I also remark, how sad!
It is a sad statement that parents are happy to send thier young children off for seven or eight hours each day, to do goodness knows what with goodness knows whom. Then they do share in homework, but not in the real essence of the subjects, because they didn’t choose the material. They are checking off boxes on someone else’s chart of what is important for a child to learn. I never knew I was such a rebel until I began home schooling. I don’t want my child to dance to some-other-one-else’s tune. I want them to compose their own.
“What do you think of your girl’s new first grade teacher?” I asked my friend.
“She’s supposed to be good, but I guess I’ll find out.” How frightening, in actuality, to cast your child in with a teacher you know nothing about, trusting the system to deliver someone capable, inspiring, and compassionate. I guess she will find out, eventually. I hope it’s good news when she does.
Another friend has twins who have never been assigned different classrooms, but this year, the principal made a blanket ruling that twins were to be separated. Luckily, my friend didn’t have an issue with that. She and her husband had been considering it for a while, and this turned out to be just the impetus they needed. Still, I couldn’t help wondering, when is making a blanket resolution in the best interests of each of the individual children?
Because we all grew up with institutionalized education, we naturally assume that’s the best option, the only option. Home schooling presents a different choice. And it forces us to question whether the institutionalization of anything to do with our individual children is really what is in their best interests, or is it just best for disinterested parents, who are so happy so send them off to school each day?