Sunday, September 29, 2013

The Homeschool Rollercoaster

Brad: "Hi honey, how was your day?"

Me, Monday: "Today was a great day! Aiden finished all of his work without complaining!"

Tuesday: "We struggled a lot, but we got it done."

Wednesday: "Well, it's 6 o'clock and he still isn't finished, it that any indication of how my day was??"

Thursday: "He finished all of his work by 11 AM and didn't complain! I'm so proud!"

Friday: "Dinner is in the oven, I'll be home sometime before morning. And don't call me unless the house is burning down."

My poor husband. I can only imagine how he must have to psych himself up in the car each evening before coming in the house. He's like a bomb-technician: he slowly enters, sizes up the situation without making any sudden movements, and must carefully, within seconds, take the proper delicate steps to insure a successful diffusion of the ticking bomb--his frazzled, overwrought and frustrated wife.

Homeschooling has been...interesting. Don't get me wrong, I am completely sure of my decision to do this, and I am certain this is the correct path for our family right now, God has made that abundantly clear over the past few weeks. However, the first month or so of homeschooling has been fraught with emotional meltdowns, difficult adjustments, and moments of sheer, mind-numbing boredom.

Aiden is, for the most part, really loving homeschool. He enjoys the freedom he has to order his day, the one-on-one attention, the exploratory nature of our days and the subject matter. We've studied kings and queens, castles and palaces, battles and revolutions. We've tackled ancient Rome and the Middle Ages, time periods that most any boy will love. We've been on field trips and done experiments at home, watched videos and listened to music. It has been lots of fun. But it has also been really hard. At home, there is one student for the teacher to focus all her energy on--which means no shirking, no laziness, and no "just getting by." At home, you don't just turn in incomplete work and move on--Mom makes you finish it, learn the subject well, or you keep doing it until you get it right. This has been a major adjustment for Aiden--he is extraordinarily bright, but exceptionally lazy and has managed to charm quite a few teachers into letting sloppy handwriting and shoddy work pass muster. Mom, however, is not charmed. "Do it again, and this time, do it right," will soon be tattooed on his forearm in Sharpie if I keep having to repeat it.

For me, the challenge comes from having to sit at home with a rambunctious, talkative kid all day. I love my children dearly, and I bend over backwards to provide them with a happy, secure, magical childhood. I can be silly with them. I can be excited with them. However, I am also a person that needs quiet and alone time, a person that needs quiet space in her head to process the many, MANY thoughts and ideas floating around in there. And when you are with your kid 24/7, there is no such thing as quiet time. Aiden is constantly making noise--either talking, or drumming on the table, or snapping his fingers, or making repetitive sounds, or humming--the child is never quiet. Which means mom doesn't get the quiet she needs to recharge her batteries. Which also means that by the end of the week, I am completely worn out, spent and exhausted.

Finding a balance of time to myself and time with the kids is difficult, especially with a husband who must commute an hour in the evenings. A few nights out with other women, adult conversation and an opportunity to vent with fellow homeschooling moms has helped tremendously. And I'm slowly learning how to adjust homeschooling to my day and timeline, instead of allowing it to dictate every moment of my day. Aiden and I are developing a rhythm and an understanding of each other's needs, and things are getting better.

One thing is for certain, though. I count myself incredibly blessed to have this opportunity. Homeschooling is a challenge, but one I'm pretty lucky to suffer through. It has brought me closer to my son. It has allowed me to see him more clearly and know him better--faults, quirks, and all. It has taught me quite a few lessons about myself, as well. (You'd think by my upper-thirties, I'd have a decent handle on knowing myself, but I've discovered more about myself in these past couple of years...but that is a whole 'nuther post!) I'm glad we have the resources to support this venture, since so many families out there really don't. It is a sacrifice and a ton of work, but one I am quite fortunate to have.

Uh oh, gotta go. Aiden is out of his seat again, and I can see from here that his work is sloppy. Hmmm, I wonder if it would be considered a bad thing to duct tape him to his chair??

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