So, here I sit...August 22, 2010...a mere 3 days before my oldest son is set to start school and I have not one bit of peace about it.
This will probably be a rambling post because it's all of my thoughts laid bare in the erratic order that they are coming to me. I apologize for misspellings. I'm just firing away at the keyboard and I don't much care about spellcheck at the moment.
R is 5. 5 years ago Joe and I already had started talking about his first day of school. I jokingly commented about how I would be a wreck (and that seems to be holding true today). I always had visions of his first day with his new little backpack and lunch box. It just seems a rite of passage that we've all gone through, right?
I am neurotic. We all know this. I've embraced it. But this is really kicking my ass. It wasn't until a few weeks ago that I had finally decided for sure that I would homeschool him. Joe conceded. I had big plans of how I would make sure R was properly socialized (insert eye roll here) and also meet his scholastic potential. While I am certainly not a credentialed teacher, I AM his mother, and I consider myself moderately intelligent. Kindergarten should be the least of my worries as far as education. Shapes, colors, numbers, letters, writing his name, knowing his address, check, check, check, check, check, and check. This is most certainly not to take away anything from those teachers who are educated and credentialed. Not just anyone can walk into a kindergarten classroom and teach children what they need to know at their age level. However, in my favor, I have taught preschool, I have taught at my church, and I know my kids better than anyone. I also know when to admit that I am inadequate and where to look for help.
So, rewind to 2 days ago when I was watering the lawn and I had these thoughts creep in to my head, "Awww, he's going to miss all the fun "first day of school" stuff that everyone is doing. What if he doesn't get to know the feeling of his first classroom, doing projects at his desk, and making me a macaroni necklace at Thanksgiving?" "Should I send him? It's not too late. I haven't officially withdrawn him...." And on and on. I shared my thoughts with Joe yesterday and was greeted with [what I took to be] relief from him (which I meet with resentment...still sorting this out) and we sat R down at lunch and asked him if he would rather go to school or be homeschooled. He said he wanted to go to school. Then I burst into tears and cried all the way through lunch. (Quick caveat: just because R said HE wanted to go to school doesn't mean that's the decision. We don't let our 5 year old make momentous life choices all on his own, but I did want to hear what he thought.)
So, now you find me sitting here tonight feeling like a total sell out. I am so bothered and upset that I don't even know where to start. I feel like I am giving in to all the reasoning that everyone-- who has NO IDEA what homeschooling is, mind you-- uses to explain why they are against it. I'm mad at myself for not thinking about it more before I brought it up to Joe or put it back on the table for discussion. Mostly, I'm mad at the idea that there are people in my life who think, "Phew. Dodged a bullet for poor R. She FINALLY came to her senses."
I am really irritated at all the opinions about how school is so important for socialization. That one just makes me want to scream. Why does socialization HAVE to happen in the classroom? Is that really the best and only way to prepare our kids for being productive members of society? Because, unless times have changed and we sudddenly live in Mayberry, the "socializing" I got in school was all about hiding my insecurities, being teased and picked on by those who felt the only way to bring themselves up was to be hateful to others, made fun of for everything from where I lived to the car my family drove, the clothes I wore, the way I smelled, and the fact that my teeth were crooked. All things I had zero control over, by the way. But that certainly didn't stop anyone from tearing me down about them. I watched as groups of kids cliqued together and excluded those who they didn't feel were worthy to be in their group. But as I sit back and re-read what I just wrote I think that it IS a perfect picture of society today, isn't it? See what we're teaching our kids? Awesome. Sign me up. Here's my impressionable 5 year old son who has one of the softest hearts of any child I know and I'm going to hand deliver him to experience these "rites of passage" just so he doesn't 'miss out on anything.' Yeah, that's sarcasm.
So who am I really mad at? All those who are set in their 1950/60's thinking that homeschooling is for those hippie kids who are weird, wear long skirts, marry their cousins and can't carry on a conversation? Mind you most (if not all) of these people have such little understanding of what it is or the amazing opportunities there are for homeschoolers now, yet they are not afraid to throw out their opnion as what's "best"...for my son.
Am I mad at Joe for not taking the initiative to do some research on his own and, instead, clings to his outdated and inaccurate stereotype that only weird, antisocial kids are homeschooled?
Am I mad at a society that we have let become so decayed that I now have to worry about my son's physical safety from bullies, predatory teachers, and lunatics who shoot schools up? That my son will be told he can't exercise his right to pray or speak about God or God's Word because some consider it 'hate speech'?
Or...am I really mad at myself? Am I so disgusted that I've caved into the pressure from others, from society, from my own husband to follow the crowd, walk the broad path, and conform? Am I still so bothered by the way I was treated all through school, that I'm terrified for my son?
It's all just too much to think about. My head feels like it's going to explode.
And if I hear one more person tell me how I'm going to love it especially when he comes home and tells me all about his day...bad things will happen. No I WON'T love knowing that 7 hours of my son's day were spent with someone else who got to watch him grow and learn, and discover. I WON'T enjoy knowing that most of my child's waking hours were spent with people I don't really know saying who knows what and treating him in a manner I'm unaware of. I WON'T think it's great that I had one less child to care for that day, and his going to school will give me a "break." I din't sign on to be a mom so that it could be convenient. I signed on because I love children and I wanted to watch this little baby grow and learn and have an active part in who they turn out to be-who God intended them to be. So...how does public school fit into all of that? For me...I know the decision is different for every parent and one size does not fit all...I feel like I am shirking my responsibilities. I feel like I am failing him in some way.
I will have to stand before God one day and explain my decisions. What if I'm feeling called to homeschool him at this juncture in life and I am turning my back on it because I don't want him or myself to be looked at like we're "different"? I don't want to feel like I have to defend that he's homeschooled everytime it comes up in conversation. I don't want to be an island in my belief that it's what is best for us, for R, for me.
So, I'm concluding now. I'm not looking for feedback or comments, especially those that may agitate me more or send me over the deep end. I just needed a place to vent and cyberspace seemed as good a place as any. If you've followed this derailed train this far, you're a brave soul.