Ostensibly the idea to homeschool my kids was to give them a better educational experience, and to wear pajamas all day. I have succeeded on both accounts. I believe my daughter has had a more dynamic and personal education. I have also managed to live a life where I am not required to get dressed for anything. In addition to these two amazing accomplishments, I have succeeded in reeducating myself not only in who my children are as people, but what transitive verbs are and why they are important. I don’t actually care about transitive verbs even though I use them all the time, but I do care about my children and only use them some of the time, but I don’t tell them that. I just call it doing chores.
Homeschooling my oldest child for two years now has taught me that educating children is hard. I’m not going to go into the whole teachers rock kind of thing because honestly some of the public school teachers I have experienced suck. They’re horrible at what they do and when it is your child who is in their class you feel like accosting them with a dull pencil and eraser; I’ll let you imagine how that would go down. Having to be a parent and a teacher is hard and considering that the salary is nothing and I have to put up with a lot of shit, I feel a little underappreciated.
I must be attracted to thankless jobs because between
marriage, parenting and teaching I get nary a thanks out of it. It may come as some surprise, but my daughter does not bound out of the study everyday and say how grateful she is that we covered the volume of a cube. My five year old does call me “the best cooker” for the meals I put on the table which makes me feel good, but it is without the appreciation of what it took to make that meal. He just likes the way it tastes. But I digress…
What I have learned is that spending copious amounts of time with your children does not mean that you know them. Nor does it lessen the feeling that time progresses and some things are lost to that ever proceeding tide. It does, however, occasionally add to the feeling that I am trapped in a very small space and I cannot get out, but that is in my lesser moments. Spending a lot of time with people I cannot physically get away from tends to make me a little crazy on certain days. Still, time in itself does not lend knowledge about anything, except the knowledge that time in itself does not lend knowledge about anything. That’s it. Beyond that, I have to try to know who they are as they grow and change seemingly, and thankfully, before my eyes.
Being given the opportunity to homeschool my daughter, I have tried to know her for who she is and not for who I want her to become. Of course I have dreams about who she can grow to become, but if I fail to listen to her own dreams I have simply understood myself and what I want for her, and mistake that for what she wants for her own life. As a parent, this distinction is critical for me. I am not a person with a heavy load of expectations of others, but I do have a lot of hopes and if I am not careful my hopes may transubstantiate into expectations. I’m all for miracles, but that is one miracle that may do more harm than good.
Aside from the embarrassing fact that reviewing the fourth and fifth grades has done wonders for my personal education, I am mostly grateful for the time that has given me the opportunity to know her better. She has decided to return to the public school forum next year and I am in support of her doing that, but I will miss her. She will be gone from the half of my day that I have the most time to spend with her. Next year she will be one of three voices getting off the school bus competing for my attention and I will have to portion out my time equally and fairly as all parents do. We will adjust.
Maybe the hardest part about her going back to school is that I will have to permanently retire my pajama uniform. I envision folding it up neatly and setting it on the shelf in my closet. I will dress myself for my new vocation which has yet to be defined, and walk out of the house with a renewed sense of physical freedom. But I will also long for the days when she sat next to me for hours on end, in our pajamas, together.
I think I will try to talk my youngest into staying home…