The first reaction that I typically hear is, “Wow, you must have a lot of patience. I could never be patient enough to homeschool my kids.” At this, I simply laugh. I have no patience with my kids, and any patience I may have had at one time has slowly been stripped away from me through homeschooling. I can not tell you how many times I have fought the urge to whack one of my kids upside the back of his (or HER!) head. I definitely won’t tell you how many times I did not resist the urge. I was hoping it would rattle their brains a little, but it didn’t help.
You see, my children can push my buttons better than anyone else in this world. I am typically a calm, docile person. (Yes I am. This is my story. Let me tell it.) Put me in a room with my children and school books, and you will see the angry beast. Truly, they enrage me beyond what I knew I was capable of. Now, before you go all feeling sympathetic for my kids or think I’m abusive, hear me out. They know they are pushing my buttons. In fact, I tell them, “You are pushing my buttons. If you do not stop, I am going to blow.” Usually, they just see that as a challenge, and they keep on pushing. I give several more warnings before the explosion happens. I feel guilty and think I’m horrible when I explode. My kids, however, think I’m funny. They’ve told me (during my calm times) that Mr. Everything is scary when he is mad, but I’m hilarious. At least I haven’t traumatized them with my anger, I suppose.
The Beetle still laughs about a school-related incident several years back. At the time, we owned our paint your own pottery studio, so we did school on the go a lot. We would carry the books we needed in a plastic basket. That way, we could do school at the studio or at home, and taking the books with us was convenient. One day, I was trying to explain how to divide fractions to the Beetle. Again. I’m not sure where the Goose was, but I don’t remember her being around. Maybe she was napping. (This was back in the magical days of naptime.) Anywho, the Beetle was doing his typical space cadet impression. I was quickly losing it, and he sensed that. He began pushing all the wrong buttons, and I gave my traditional warnings. He kept pushing and pushing and pushing, and finally, I exploded. This time was one of the worst explosions I’ve ever had with one of my kids. I got so mad that I was yelling at him, and I went to kick the book basket. (As you may recall, I broke my big toe kicking the Goose’s bedroom door last year. It still hurts. I really should learn to stop kicking things.) This time, I had a tennis shoe on, thank goodness, and I kicked the basket with all my might. Unfortunately, the book basket was made of cheap plastic, and my foot went right through it. Then, I was standing there with a basket on my foot, trying to be angry. If you ever try to fuss at a child with a basket on your foot, you will quickly find that it isn’t very effective. I’m pretty sure he didn’t hear a word I said because he was so busy laughing. I ended up laughing too, and we called it a day for school.
The other response I hear when I tell people that I homeschool is, “Oh, you’re so lucky! I’ll bet that is so much fun.” Usually, I just answer that comment with a blank stare.
Some homeschool mothers would tell you that schooling their children is fun. They learn together and laugh together and snuggle under blankets together. I would not be one of those mothers. Apparently, my children are wired differently, because never, ever have we snuggled under a blanket and happily read together. Our version of reading together sounds more like this:
Me: “You will sit here until I finish this chapter.”
Child: “*Sigh!* How long is the chapter?”
Me: “It doesn’t matter. You will sit here until I’m finished.”
Child: “But it’s boring.”
Me: “If you would quit interrupting, you might actually be able to follow the storyline.”
Child: “How long is the chapter?”
Me: “FORGET IT! You can read! Read it for yourself!!!”
Some homeschool families are the best of friends. Their children frolic in the front yard for PE time and the older child helps the younger child learn her multiplication tables. My children beat the crud out of each other while I’m trying to teach them.
Truly, the only thing that is fun about homeschooling is getting together with the other moms. Otherwise, no thank you. As much as my children are dreading the beginning of our school year, I can assure you that I am dreading it even more. I keep wishing for the beginning of summer so I didn’t have to feel this impending doom.
Here’s the reality at my house… Every school day will be a struggle. Every school day will involve an argument of some kind, whether it’s between one of the kids and me, one of the kids and Mr. E or both of the kids together. Every day will involve someone pushing my buttons in some way. If one kid decides to actually cooperate for the day, the other kid will take over the button pushing.
I used to be hopeful at the beginning of the school year. I would tell myself that this year was going to be better. I would get all psyched up and make my lesson plans and prepare little notebooks and folders. I was excited. A week into it, I was in the bathroom, crying through the door to Mr. E that I quit. I can’t tell you how many times I have tried to pass the homeschooling torch to him, yet I still end up with it! He’s a smart man, and he knows how to avoid the struggle.
This year, I am not the least bit hopeful. The faces in that picture are the faces that I will see every day when I say the cursed words, “Time to do school!” Call me a realist, but I’m pretty sure I’ll be crying by day two.
Now, I know what you are thinking. You are asking why in the world I homeschool. Right now while I am calm and not educating my children, I can answer you and say that, irritating as they are, I love my kids. I miss my kids when they are gone, and I want to know that they are okay. I want to be deeply involved in their learning, so I know what they are learning and how they are doing. During the few days that they went to school throughout the years, I missed them. I did not like not knowing how they were doing in school. The Beetle wouldn’t eat lunch, and he would come home starving. When I asked him why he wouldn’t eat, he couldn’t tell me, but he wouldn’t. The Goose broke out in eczema from head to toe from the stress of FCAT testing. I don’t want that for my kids. They have the rest of their lives to be stressed out. So, even though they irritate the fire out of me, I still want what is best for them, and being home is best for my kids. And do not take that as a judgment. I’m not talking about what’s best for your kids. This is all about me. (Isn’t everything? ;-) ) Every child is different, and every situation is different, so I would never judge another parent for the choices they made. Some days, I wish public school was best for my kids. It sure would be easier!
Now, if you were to call me and ask me why I homeschooled in the middle of a school day, my answer might not be as nice. The button pushers are annoying, but I love ‘em. As I’ve told them many times during their lives, it’s a good thing they’re cute! -Al