Congratulations! You’ve just freaked out your friends, neighbors, and family with your intent to homeschool and ruin you kids’ chances for a normal life, so stand up and take a bow! Now get a cup of coffee with unlimited refills, quit imagining those Stepford children, sit down and repeat after me:
“Rome was not built in a day.”
The truth is that Rome took years to rise to grandeur, and then it crumbled faster than my kids can fill their laundry hamper with clothes they only thought about wearing. So maybe Rome isn’t the best analogy. But, the point is, don’t expect everything to go as you imagined when you were kidnapping your kids from the public school secretary who smirked at you over her reading glasses with an expression that said, you’ll be back. And if you’ve always planned to homeschool, don’t expect little-house-on-the-prairie-manners and an extreme love of great literature to magically appear when you sit your oldest little darling down at the sweet school house desk you found at the antique fair.
In fact don’t expect anything. Then you don’t have to feel like a failure if/when the following happens:
- Your plan to have beds made, teeth brushed, breakfast served, and dressed children reciting Shakespeare by 9am sort of happens the first day and never again.
- Your child that hated math, still hates math.
- You look over the teacher’s manual and realize, you still hate math.
- The crystals won’t grow.
- You want them to think critically, so your children question the necessity of everything you make them do.
- That expensive, award winning curriculum sucks. And you already wrote in it.
- You start to worry about socialization because your kids don’t know how to Whip or Nae Nae at the team party.
- You discover it is best to write your lesson plans in pencil. Very lightly.
- Painting X’s on the driveway for PE was a kind of ridiculous idea that won’t wash off.
- You have to do a tick check after your first family nature walk.
- You can’t make grammar funner. Punctuation bingo didn’t quite catch on.
- Grilled free-range chicken breast atop organic greens isn’t a practical lunch option. Microwave taquitos, a God send.
- Your child knows more about the topic you’re trying to teach than you do, thanks to Morgan Freeman. You aren’t doing enough.
- You’re out with friends and notice your son is wearing his shirt on backwards, unmatched socks, and is a month overdue for a haircut.
- The library can host elaborate parties with the late fees it collects solely from your family. And you never even read half the books you checked out.
- Your child reminisces about everything fun (and fantasy) about public school and how they miss having friends in front of your biggest homeschool critic.
This list of things I once stressed over seems absurd now. Except for that I never actually painted any X’s on the driveway. But I thought about it that first week as I had them run laps around the house while yelling which direction they were facing at each turn. In the first year of homeschooling, Great Expectations are more than a hefty literary conquest by Charles Dickens. And every year after that we still hope for more than will ultimately be achieved. I think it does a homeschool good for mom to dream of perfection, aim for well done, and be okay with over easy. We can plan and maneuver how we want things to go, but our children will ultimately be the biggest navigators of their homeschool journey. By all means plan the trip, but allow for detours that will come, and learn from them, always forging ahead.
And one day when you’ve been a little more tenderized and seasoned into homeschooling, the neighbors will drive by as you take an unexpected picture of your kids posing in ridiculous outfits, with their faces covered in chalky-war-paint for no identifiable reason whatsoever. The neighbor will probably wonder if your kids know how to read, or if you realize they are clearly immature and socially awkward for their ages. But you won’t notice, because you know the truth. Your kids are awesome and unique. And their witty efforts to make you laugh are the kind of unexpected hiccup you’ve come to appreciate.