The face with all the accusations, all the doubt, all the raised eyebrows.
Whether you know it or not, you make it. Sometimes, you might not even actually make the face but, you say things.
The things that make every homeschool mom or dad cringe. I’m not even talking about the socialization things because, really, I’m tired of talking about socialization with you. It’s like pounding my head up against the wall and, honestly, you’re never going to get it anyway and it makes my head hurt. I’m talking about the things that sound like, ‘I don’t know how you do it. I don’t have the patience for it. I couldn’t teach my child anything. My child doesn’t listen to me. That sounds nice but I have to work…’ and so on.
Maybe I have a face, too. If I don’t, let me let you in on a little secret…
These things make me want to punch you in the face…and then give you a big, long hug.
First of all, I don’t have any more patience than you do. My kids drive me up the walls just like yours do. Stop making me sound like a saint.
I know it, you know it, and my kids DAMN WELL know it. I’m not more patient than you are, my priorities are just different. My kids have the potential to be assholes every damn day, just like yours do. Is that mean? No. It’s the truth. My kids are human beings and all human beings have the potential to be assholes. Just because I don’t get an 8 hour break where they’re being assholes on the tax payer’s dime does not mean it doesn’t happen. I have to raise my voice. I have to stomp my feet. I have to repeat myself 27 times in order to get my point across. My patience is not abundant.
Stop pretending like it is.
Second of all, stop saying you can’t teach your child anything. Did they learn how to tie their shoes on their own? Wipe their ass on their own? Eat with a fork one day, all on their own, like Matilda, because they are little genius babies? No. They didn’t. Did they learn how to ride a bike, say please and thank-you, treat people with respect, work the microwave so you didn’t have to get up from the couch and miss Big Brother? No. They didn’t. YOU taught them that. YOU. You can teach your child. I’ve seen it. Shut up, already. You teach your kids all kinds of stuff. Stop saying you can’t teach them anything. If you don’t want to, that’s fine. To each their own. I could give two shits that you don’t homeschool your kids but, seriously? Stop saying it’s because you can’t. Stop saying it’s because you’re incapable. It’s annoying. It’s just as annoying as you talking about that one kid you know who was homeschooled and turned out totally weird.
(Second and a half of all, everyone is weird. You’re weird. I’m weird. Your kids are weird in their own little ways. Kids in school just learn how to hide weird better. Or they don’t. In which case, they are bullied and teased or they end up shooting up the place. Or, worse, they become so frightened of anyone who is different than they are that they become the one who is doing the bullying and the teasing. It happens. Don’t pretend like it doesn’t. Seriously. And while we’re at it, stop using the word weird in a negative way. That's annoying, too.)
Maybe you can’t teach your kid the same things, in the same time, at the same pace, in order to pass the same tests that the schools do but, I’ll let you in on another secret:
You wouldn’t have to. Not in California, anyway.
I mean, sure. Your kid is going to have to learn how to read. He’s going to have to learn how to write. He’s going to have to be able to learn how to use logic and solve problems and how the government works and all of that but, as long as he knows those things by the time he’s ready to go out into the world and survive without you, it doesn’t actually matter when he learns them. The schools have time frames. They have Scope and Sequence and guidelines. They sort of have to. Otherwise, no one would know what the hell they were doing but, when you educate your child at home, you don’t actually have to teach certain things at certain times. Your child can learn what they are ready to learn when they are ready to learn it.
It’s actually a beautiful thing.
Grade levels are absolutely irrelevant when you are not going to a class room every day. Think about it. As an adult, functioning in the real world, does it actually matter when you learned how to do algebra? Write a five paragraph essay? Multiply by nines? What all the state capitols are? When to use an apostrophe or carry the one or how the muscular system works?
No. It doesn’t.
In fact, some of you still don’t know how to use an apostrophe correctly.
Third of all, if your child doesn’t listen to you, you have WAY bigger fish to fry. For the love of God, get a handle on that shit. You’re doing society a huge injustice by sending your offspring who won’t even listen to the people who created them, who feed and clothe them, off in to the world for some 24 year old, fresh out of the credential program, to take care of. If you can’t get your child to behave at home, to listen to you at home, why in the hell would you send them off to bother some one else??
And yes, I’m totally being Judgey McJudgerton now.
You totally have it coming.
Fourth and finally of all, I have a job, too. It is not a corporate, Monday through Friday, banker’s hours kind of a job but a job it most definitely is. I work nights. I work weekends. I work when other people are having dinner with their families. My job works around my family’s schedule. Again, if you don’t want to homeschool your kid…don’t. But, stop saying it’s because you have a job. There a lot of people in this country of ours who make a paycheck and take control of their children’s education at the same time. I don’t feel bad for you.
I didn’t set out to pull my kid out of a second/third grade GATE combo class, a GATE class he got into because he scored in the 99th percentile on the tests, in the middle of the school year, and start teaching him without help from the state. I didn’t think when I sent him off to his first day of kindergarten that I’d be sitting across from a teacher three years later who would inform me that he was going to “slip through the cracks.” I didn’t think on the day he was born that I was going to come to believe that the public school system, the same system I came up in, the system that served me very well, thankyouverymuch, was going to be failing him.
I didn’t know that I was going to read news story after news story about inappropriate conduct and lock downs in his school district. I didn’t know that my gut was going to start screaming at me to make a change, to figure out a different path, to think outside of the box and start thinking for myself and my child instead of letting the state of CA think for me.
You say it’s a huge responsibility. You say I’m doing something grand and noble. You say I’m an idiot or I’m lazy or I just threw my hands up when things got rough and ‘peaced out.’
Listen, parenthood is a huge responsibility. I took that one on the day I pushed that kid out of my vagina. School, no school, the responsibility was already mine long before it was time to get a back-pack, pack a lunch and stand in line. Parenthood is grand and noble and makes everyone a lazy idiot who has to throw their hands up from time to time and peace out. School has absolutely nothing to do with any of that. Making sure my kid has all the skills he needs in order to be a productive member of society was already in the job description. There are buildings full of educated men and women who are willing to help me do my job, which is awesome, but I got this.
Really, I do.
I know what you think. You’ve told me. You’ve made the face. You’ve said the things. Maybe now you know what I think, too. I think that your decision is the right one for you if you think it is.
Your kid, your responsibility, your head on your pillow at night.
Maybe you’re the brave one. Maybe you’re the idiot. Maybe you’re tired of someone telling you what your kid can eat, can wear, can say, can think, can believe. Believe about God, believe about learning, believe about themselves. Maybe you’re tired of someone else telling you how to measure your child’s success. Maybe you think your gut might be telling you to go a different direction. If it is, please know that you’re the only one who knows your gut, knows your child, knows if you’re doing it right.
Also, know that I don’t think any of your excuses for not listening to your gut hold water. I’m not asking you to co-sign my decision. I decided that there was no reason to race through my son’s education at a pace I didn’t set, a pace that wasn’t actually necessary. I’m okay with that decision.
My kid, my responsibility, my head on my pillow at night.
But, I’m not going to co-sign your decision not to listen to your gut just because you’re scared, just because you think you can’t do it, just because you have a job.
If it needs to be done, it can be.
Trust me, I’m a writer.
Happy Tuesday, Friends.
go. do. be.