The 7.2 billion concerns homeschool parents juggle as our kids progress from phonics to physics can quickly lead to insomnia. Combine that with a dash of anxiety and a fatalistic imagination and you’ve got a recipe for homeschool nightmares.
Inventing Things to Worry About
As headmistress/janitor of this institution, it is my duty to worry about everything from what order to teach the sciences to whether we will run out of toilet paper before Wednesday when I have that block of 87 minutes to myself. And if you homeschool, you know just how many other worries it is possible to concoct out of thin air after your kid asks a question of which the answer seems perfectly obvious. Such as, “Why do they ring bells in public schools?”
Suddenly, I realized my boys may never experience the anxiety of opening a combination lock in less than thirty seconds. “Should I go buy three combination locks?” I asked my husband in all seriousness.
Once, I lost two hours of my life searching the web to determine if test anxiety was something I needed to try to induce sporadically, so that my boys won’t be blind-sided with the need to breathe into a paper bag or call for medical aid when they go to take the SAT.
But after the most trying of days I can turn worries into full-fledged nightmares…
Homeschool Nightmares or Omens
“What’s a quad, mom?” my son whispered into his phone so that his new roommate couldn’t hear. “I met some new guys in my Lit class this morning and I’m supposed to meet up with them on the quad at one, but I don’t know what a quad is?” I could hear the anger and accusation in his voice. I began to sweat.
“Calm down, honey.” I’ve never called him honey before. Where did that come from? “Dude, you’ve got this.” There. That sounds more like me.
“Yet another thing you forgot to teach me, mom!” he snarled. His words ripped through my veil of beautifully filtered and edited memories of our years homeschooling. “In world history, I had to ask the professor what he meant by “bell curve” after he told the entire class I broke it. And when I apologized for breaking his stuff, everyone laughed at me.”
Oh gosh! That’s probably why they asked him to meet them on the quad. They’re going to beat the snot out of him for being too smart. I’ve ruined him with good study habits and a lack of cliché teen social jargon. I wonder if anyone has shown him how to raise his hand before speaking out in class?
He only knows how to socialize like a homeschooler!
“Look, sweetie, the quad is just the center of campus where there’s probably lots of benches and grass to sit and…” I began, trying to explain when he interrupted.
“Forget it, mom. I’ll google it. If I can figure out how to use this smart phone you finally let me get last week. Really, there’s so much I need to learn and try before I’ll ever fit in here.”
Wait. I was struck with horror. Try what?
“I’ll talk to you tomorrow when I get back from a lecture on masculinity this girl invited me too. I opened the door for her, like you taught me, Mom. And then she told me to “check” myself. My shoes were tied, and my fly was zipped, but apparently I offended her strength as a woman. See what you’ve done to me?”
Click. The line went dead, and panic refluxed into my mouth burning my throat.
And then I woke up… sat upright in the bed and smelled the coffee my still young and homeschooled son was up and brewing for me in the kitchen. Oh, thank you, Jesus. It was just a dream.
But, maybe we should discuss quads, bell curves and chivalry over breakfast.
Everyday Homeschool Worries
A certain amount of worrying is probably good for parents, especially homeschooling parents. It’s what keeps us from letting our kids freely roam the internet, reminds us to teach them to count and puts up red flags before we let Bill Nye cover the basics of science.
What are some legitimate worries of homeschoolers? And what is completely absurd to worry about? I’ll try and break it down for you.
Valid Concerns vs. Ridiculous Worries
(a totally unprofessional analysis)
- Are we doing enough?
- Are we doing too much?
- Are we out of coffee?
- Will that one college accept my homemade transcript with emojis?
- Will my eye always twitch like this?
- Where do you use sentence diagramming in the real world?
- How are we going to pay for our family book addiction?
- Is my child overly accommodated?
- Do we have support from family and friends?
- They’ve all graduated. Now what do I do all day?
- Should we do more worksheets?
- What if they aren’t as smart as public-schooled kids?
- “A plane might crash into my house.”
- Should I hire someone to bully my child?
- Why hasn’t my kid invented anything yet?
- They’ll never forgive me for letting them sleep till 10 am instead of teaching them to use an alarm clock.
- I’m not patient enough for this gig.
- This can’t be right. My child is teaching me math?!
- My child will never graduate. Can a high school junior get an AARP card?
When to Worry
A good rule of thumb to decide if your concerns are worthy of the last of your youthful glow is to say them out loud. I recommend doing so to other homeschool parents. Likely, if it is a warranted fear, they will nod in empathy and possibly offer a solution or their favorite cocktail recipe.
Conversely, if your worry sounds dumber and dumber as it slips from your mouth, it is probably completely baseless. No doubt your homeschool pal will still be able to commiserate, but mostly in the ridiculousness of the worry they too have felt. Most of these types of worries are based on societies expectations that we don’t want to meet anyway. We mostly exceed those expectations in completely different, yet more effective ways.
When to Chill
Still, we should listen to our worries. They’re like post-it notes from your Jiminy Cricket. The ones that make the most sense will usually arrive when we are sort of rested (Are we ever well rested?), thinking clearly and in a mostly pleasant mood.
Our more harebrained fears tend to turn up after 1 a.m., before big changes in our schedules and family life, or after we’ve been inquisitioned by an opinionated stranger at breakfast out on a Tuesday.
Or after a particularly long day homeschooling a dictator in training.
Worrying never fixed anything. But, I’m a professional at it. It’s what I do.
I’ll probably still find myself lying in bed at 3 a.m. some night pondering my 9yr old’s ability to manage a credit-card, ten years from now. I’ll slip off to sleep and dream he’s been repossessed and I owe 45% interest to get him out of public school pawn.
But when the sun rises, I’ll wake from that homeschool nightmare, take a deep breath and chill. Maybe roll my eyes at my silliness. Then I’ll throw my feet on the ground and start the day with a lesson in borrowing and lending.