This is a post for home schoolers. Man, woman, duck, I don't care. But if you don't home school, feel free to leave now because chances are you won't relate what I'm about to describe. Trust me, you won't want to.
We've been homeschooling for seven years now (stab me with a fork, I can't believe it's been that long and I'm still upright. I'm drooling on myself, but I'm upright). I was having one of those days where I needed a little encouragement in the Is-there-a-snowball's-chance-in-Hades-that-my-children-are-going-to-turn-out-normal-despite-the-fact-they're-stuck-with-me-all-day? department. (and by the way the only reason I even know how to spell Hades is that my daughter is super interested in Greek mythology right now so we're working our way through ALL the gods and goddesses....and what a twisted bunch they are!! I think those Greeks were probably the first to experiment with magic mushrooms, if you get my drift) My best friend Sue wasn't available to talk on the phone on that day when I needed some reassurance that I wasn't The Worst Home Schooling Parent Who EVER Lived because she too is a home schooling parent and she was probably too busy having one of those magical mother-daughter moments where her daughter was lovingly and graciously complying with all of her handwriting assignments and who was remembering everything she EVER learned in math (hahaha). From where I sit my friend is doing an A #1 Super Duper, Give-That-Woman-A-Gold-Star-And-A-Barca-Lounger-In-Heaven medal. The daughter she's currently homeschooling is her third child she's home educated. Her first two are brilliant and wonderful, caring and generous human beings that, get this.........dress and look NORMAL. They're hip and cool and they have BOAT LOADS of friends, many of whom were also home schooled, who are now also independent young adults, and who are also NORMAL. (And it's actually ALL Sue's fault that we're even home schooling to begin with, but more on that in a later post).
There I was, left un-chaparoned in the cyber world. With no alcohol. Did you know there is a veritable cornucopia of home schooling blogs out there? From Pagan Home Schoolers Who Worship Purple Geodes From Planet XIJ87678 to Conservative Christians Who Are Sick Of The Government's Plot To Take Over The Life Of The American Family and everything in between. I mean EVERY thing in between. Our family? Good luck putting us in a nice little box with a neat little bow on top, as we're a vegetarian-tree-hugging-Jesus-loving-politically-conservative-disability-friendly-multi-racial family who seems to move every three years whether we need it or not. Confused? You're not alone. My side of the family has COMPLETELY given up on me, which really isn't a bad thing. But I digress.
So there I am in cyber-land looking for some encouragement on the home schooling-front, hoping to limit my children's time in therapy to a decade or less when they come out of this. Well that was mistake #1! Don't read homeschooling blogs!! Or drink heavily when you do. Or steal your neighbor's Xanax if you do. Or wear a blindfold if you do and only read every fifth word. Did you know there are people out there who actually GROW ALL of their own food (from seedlings and babies of course), make their own laundry detergent, plan their meals down to last 1/2 tsp of paprika a month in advance, perform for free in their communities for anyone who will listen on their handmade Brazilian fiddles they make during their daily quiet time (the youngest, "River" is only three, so he uses a butter knife to carve his baby fiddle), and they raise their own money by canning their own raspberry preserves and they recycle plastic bottles that they find while cleaning their nearby parks so they can all go to Rwanda every year to hand out shoes and toothbrushes to orphans. And I don't drink because.......? I seriously have no idea. I had to go take a nap after reading that one.
Near as I can tell home schooling families can fall into one of three categories. There's category #1, as mentioned above, the over achievers to the nine gazillionth degree on every level of family life. We bless and release them, while we run screaming in the other direction looking for large amounts of alcohol and anti-depressants. In Category #2 are the families who believe they can do eduction a whole lot better in their own homes and they do it in a wide variety of ways; from having school desks lined up in rows and a flag hung at the front of the room, to the families who are just as convicted that they can do school a lot better than the current model, but who do it in a more relaxed atmosphere, with kids studying in various places at various times throughout their homes, but whose homes are probably not going to be featured in House Beautiful anytime soon and whose spice cabinets would make Martha Stewart cringe. Then there's Category #3, the one that scares all of our parents and extended families the most: the UNschoolers. These are the ones who lean toward John Holt's humanistic view of education which simply states that if you leave children alone and don't hassle them with ANY kind of structure of ANY kind, they will turn out smarter than Guy Kawasaki, richer than Warren Buffett and more interesting than the Most Interesting Man In The World, and you should just go out and get a hobby that would be useful to the world, like breeding unicorns with llamas while drinking large amounts of Dos Equis.
If you fall into category #1 congratulations, you are an AWESOME parent. Your children will only be the better for eating homegrown kale and mutton (little sweet innocent lambs, by the way, that used to answer to your children's whistles in your pretty-as-a-postcard-meadow). Your Herculean efforts will pay off in spades and our world will be a better place on every level. If you're in category #2, congratulations, you are an AWESOME parent! Chances are good that your child can read by age 14, (beating the national average if you believe what you read in the papers, and of course you do because it's in PRINT for crying out loud, which is almost as good as Walter Cronkite himself speaking from beyond from the The Great News Desk In The Sky). He has a hobby that won't land him on the Crime Watch pages of your local paper, but whose room looks like an Albert Schweitzer experiment gone awry, so you know he's tracking with the normal American teenager. And if you're in category #3, congratulations, you're an AWESOME parent, and I mean that sincerely. Every kid learns differently, so kudos to you for being intuitive enough to know when to leave well enough alone. You definitely have time to blog, write your own music and breed unicorns with llamas, therefor making the world a better place.
But what about the FOURTH category? And you know who you are, you had to read this post just like you have to rubber-neck at accidents on the freeway....you're the ones who don't home school. You think we're all nuts. Or saints. Or that we just LOVE, LOVE, LOVE spending EVERY freakin' waking moment with our spawns and that everyday is just a mutual love fest of adoration. What about you? Congratulations, you are an awesome parent! And that's the truth. Not everyone is going to home school. Not everyone can, for a whole variety of reasons. I do think it's the best way to tap into every child's emotional and intellectual capacity but I'm not naive enough to think that everyone is going to board this train with me, and that's cool. I don't judge you. I don't have the time or the emotional energy to. Don't be offended, but I actually don't think about you a whole lot because I'm too busy trying to keep up with my offspring........but I would appreciate it if you would share your Xanax. I heard it's freakin' awesome when you're breeding unicorns with llamas.