It rained a 1/4 of an inch the night before last. This is big news in an area that had a 1/4 of an inch for the entire month of July- the driest in recorded history. It's brown out here - as in dead brown. The fields in our valley are dead; the farmer's are simply waiting for the claims adjusters to come and evaluate before they turn the stalks into silage or bedding.
Do you ever feel like that as a homeschooler? You've prepared, planted and hoped. And then things just die on the vine. The reality is that there are no guarantees with parenting, or with homeschooling. We can do our part; order the best curriculum, get a room set up, plan and photocopy and schedule.
But reality sets in. Little Johnny doesn't like the curriculum, hates coloring and thinks neighbor Bob's Mom is prettier and has better cookies. Little Susie-Q has an attitude, loses her math book for weeks on end and reads in the bathroom; for hours, with the door locked. Mommy Homemaker (that's you) hates cooking, doesn't like science, and forgot Algebra. On top of which she's tired, forgot why she pro-created and thinks both Jonny and Susie should go live with prettier Betty Crocker cookie-maker down the lane.
Where's the reality T.V. show about homeschooling? The one where everyone's late, the pencils are dull, the kids duller still and the house a mess? Where's the reality show about average homeschool kids and parents, where people are normal, of average intelligence, not that pretty, and get irritated?
Reality check: I like homeschooling. I like being with my kids. As my friend Nancy says, raising children has been the “richest” career she’s had (Nancy is an R.N. and gifted musician so it’s not like she’s homeschooling ‘cause she doesn’t have other options). But, in the grand scheme of things, we can’t control outcomes. We can’t control how much our kids appreciate the sacrifices that we’ve made in order to homeschool them. We can’t control their mouths, or their beliefs, or their distemper. We can only control ourselves, our attitudes, beliefs and distempers. Geez, some days I hate that.
Sometimes you plant, you tend, you plow, you pray, and still, no rain comes, no understanding or wisdom, and it’s a crop failure. If you are going to homeschool and not feel like a failure, you have got to have reasons to do so other than outcomes. It’s hard in an outcome, performance based culture to let that go. It’s hard if you are a task oriented, performance based person. But there it is.
Homeschooling, as a movement, is old enough that there are some of us who now have homeschooled adult children. Some of the hopes and dreams and visions for our families, our selves, our children, have not born fruit, have died on the vine. It’s not a perfect system. It’s full of fallible, complicated people, including us, including our children. There are no guarantees.
That being said: I am planning, preparing, photocopying. No coloring pages for Cub, because even at 12 he’ll just scribble, but lots of sketchbooks. Still a math tutor, because, Thank- God, I think we finally spawned a child with Dr.Dh’s upper level math acumen instead of mine. We’ll throw in plenty of books because without books and big ideas and an active thought life I shrivel up and start dying on the vine, and as much interaction with our God sent homeschooling community as possible. Our friend Nancy is there, along with Jannell, and Ana and a host of others, who help me keep perspective about WHY we hoemschool. That it’s bigger, much bigger, than my puny little hoped for outcomes.