When our first child was born my wife and I talked a lot about homeschooling our kids. We didn’t consider homeschooling as a way to protect our kids from the evil, godless world around us but more to protect the world from our evil, godless children. No, I’m kidding. No, no I’m not kidding. Yes I am.
As she grew older I began to question the wisdom of our homeschooling dreams. Our daughter never went through the “terrible twos”. She went through the evil demon zombie stage and brought the term “stubborn” to new levels in the dictionary. While I was pretty confident I could educate any of our children, this new manifestation of demon spawn was a little intimidating. When her younger brother was born just six weeks into her newly manifested subspecies of humanity, I was sure she would have pulled his arms off and beaten him with them in the time it took me to take out the trash. Because of that, our house went through a period where it didn’t smell so good, but I am happy to report that my son still has both of his arms.
We enrolled her in preschool with the hopes that a little socialization may temper some of her wilder sides. We also took out a personal liability policy just in case she was especially adept at creating anarchy. She cried every morning as we approached the door to her classroom clutching to my leg like I was leaving her with strangers so that I could have a little break, which, of course, I was. Then when I returned three hours later, she would cry that I was taking her from her best friends, which, again, I was. We did this week in and week out for the entire school year.
For some mysterious reason, prekindergarten and kindergarten went off without a hitch. No crying as the teacher pried her off my leg, no grand bargaining about what I would do if she could make it without crying, and no turning of her head in a 360 degree circle. She seemed to be having fun at school and so reserved all of her misdeeds for the moment she walked back into the house.
She continued through her scholastic career all the while slowly maturing. As she completed second grade the thoughts of homeschooling started to creep back in, as did my doubts. I wondered if I could really handle her all day, everyday, for months on end. Could I maintain my well designed façade as a patient and loving father if we were sitting side by side her trying to teach her the basics of algebra? These and many other doubts went through my mind but in the same way as I ignored the doubts about being a good father before I created her, I ignored my own doubts once again and decided to homeschool.
We are now onto our second year of homeschooling. Having done this for two years now I am either a glutton for self induced frustration, or I am trying really hard to do the right thing. Really hard. My daughter is an image of myself and the things I find most frustrating about her are, predictably, my own personal struggles. We both have a hard time with patience. We both could use a little more compassion. We both like soup and noodles which is neither here nor there but is something we hold in common. And, I love here fiercely. I have loved being with her and we know each other in a more complex and nuanced way for our time together.
She has decided to go back to public school next year. She misses the day to day fraternization with other spawn such as herself. I understand. But I am beginning to pray now for a saint of a teacher to continue the exorcism that is the raising of children. Hail Mary, full of grace…