How I Was Shoved Into Homeschooling Unexpectedly
Once upon a time there was a homeschool mom.
Wait. Hold on. I’m getting ahead of myself.
Ok, once there was this fresh young coed with dreams of high rise dinner parties, trendy leather bags, and awe inspiring career achievements in medicine. After receiving a BS in Physician Assistant studies and a Master’s of Public Health, she spent many a glamorous evening sewing up drunks in the ER, working to keep their escaping body fluids off her pristine white coat and fending off their stellar proposals of marriage. Already hitched to a handsome Spanish surgical PA, she was not tempted.
Shortly thereafter she was knocked up with twins. The end.
Or rather, the beginning.
In short. Nothing ever goes as planned. I planned to have one girl. “BAM!,” said God. “Here’s your twin boys. You’re welcome.” Then, almost 4 years later, “BAM! Almost forgot one,” he said tossing us a third installment. For some reason God had a voice like Emeril Lagasse while I thought out this post. Work with me here.
Naturally they would all attend public school after 3 years of mother’s-day-out and preschool. And so the twins rocked Kindergarten with their 5 year old cuteness. And I made ridiculously clever snacks for their classes when asked. I refused to be homeroom mom and kiss the teacher’s rump and chaperone the Xerox machine. Nope. Not me. I had
time to waste errands to run and a toddler at preschool home.
By first grade, the carpool line was sucking the life out of the toddler who spent 3 hours a day harnessed in the back seat covered in banana and learning ventriloquist road rage techniques aimed at moms who park and chat in the pickup lane. And what the heck were my other two doing there for 8 hours a day? Inevitably, I was about to drag their grouchy, snot-covered attitudes home to use the last bits of daylight teaching them whatever they were supposed to have already learned. Then after dinner we got to read ridiculous readers about a rat that sat on cat with a bat.
I never did tell the teachers what I thought about that.
But this was the way things were done. So we did. And my boys were of the smartest in their class. We read books way above grade level to be rebellious at bedtime. We discussed science, music, and politics in the car because they were curious and mostly bored out of their minds at school. But they were receiving gold stars and stamped certificates for being good, little manageable students. So we stayed the course.
But then 2nd grade happened. The lessons were easy, and they finished fast enough to wander the classroom discovering ways to distract the other kids and annoy the teacher. Which led to teacher texted hints toward a possible
need for a t ranquilizing dart ADHD diagnosis.
Oh no she didn’t!
Instead of being allowed to move on ahead, they were placed next to special needs students and asked to help. Which is great for a time or two, but fair for their abilities? I think not.
They were locked out of sections of the library deemed to difficult for mainstream 2nd graders. No matter that one twin read on a 7th-8th grade level! We were asked to leave the books he read on his own at home, so as not to make the less literary kids feel bad. WHAT!? What about encouraging achievement!?
Tears flowed every morning as more and more my children, who loved to learn, were made to feel like oddballs by other kids and annoying outliers by their teachers. And realizing I was doing most of the teaching during homework time every evening anyway, I started snooping into the lives of weird unsocialized homeschool families.
Every reason I could find to homeschool was staring me in the face, but I couldn’t get past my own public schooled mentality that I should leave it to those who knew best. But did they? Didn’t I have two degrees? Didn’t I teach these amazing boys to walk, talk, tie their shoes, use a spoon, and aim for cheerios in the toilet! Wait! I had taught them to read before Kindergarten. That was me! And one twin explained the US Pentagon in Washington to his classmates during a lesson on shapes recently. Yup, that was me too. But still, they’ll be weird and homely looking, right? And I’ll have to wear a denim jumper and sell strange oils!
Deep down I knew I could do it. I wanted my babies at home with me. I wanted them to remain annoying questioners of everything. I wanted them to read for pleasure and curiosity, not for those evil AR points. To take field trips and see and be in the world rather than tucked away waiting to live. But I couldn’t just jump off the cliff. I didn’t dare tell the boys what I was contemplating.
So, I asked God to slap me upside the head with a homeschool catalog or something, if this is what I was supposed to do. I hoped he’d be really obvious about it, like a note home from school expelling my boys for loitering on the wrong side of the library.
He slapped me alright. With the one thing he knew I’d listen to most. My son. A morning before school, while forcing him to get dressed so we weren’t late, he began to cry, as was becoming routine. And as I tried to tell him he was great and it would be okay, and to be proud to be himself, he yelled at me, “I hate school! Even the teacher thinks I’m weird. Why do you take me up there and leave me where nobody loves me or cares about me? You’re supposed to teach me!”
And so we leapt off the cliff together. Best decision that ever knocked me upside the head. And a homeschool mom was born.