"I just don't know how you do it."
I honestly do not know how many times a year/month/week I hear this statement. The minute people start counting all these little blonde heads (even though right now there are--don't laugh-- *only* five), the questions about how I "do it all" come up. Inevitably, the question of school will come up once or twice a week, with a variety of responses. About half the time, I get a wonderfully supportive, "I think that's great!", but just as often, I am befuddled with how to respond when someone starts rattling off their own reasons for why they *can't* homeschool. I don't ever recall asking why ANYONE doesn't homeschool. Ever. People just feel the need to justify their reasons, I suppose. I'm not so sure I understand that response, but considering I'm in a particularly snarky mood today, I'm going to join in on the argument and tell some of "you people" (remember what I said about getting offended? Keep that in mind.) who send your kids to public or private schools why it is I just don't understand "how you do it".
- I'm a major control freak. This is probably THE biggest reason I had issues with having our oldest two in a public school setting. I wasn't in control--of the curriculum, of their time, of their influences, their clothing, their school supplies, not even of their lunches. It was ridiculous, and I felt like I was handing the job of parenting my children over to a total stranger for six hours a day. When that kindergarten teacher told me that I had to tell my 5-year-old to stop reading because it was making the other kids [who couldn't read yet] feel bad about themselves, I lost it. The control monster in me took over. When we put them back in a public high school for just one semester, I felt like I'd had all of my maternal control ripped away. I do not do well with that. I am the one who will answer for how my children have been influenced, and because of that, I'm going to run with this control-freak nature God made me with and BE in control of those things I have every right to control.
- Public schools start too early in the morning for me. Petty, I know, but ask my mom--I have been a night owl ALL of my life. I came by it honestly--she is the same way. My brain clicks into full gear at about 10pm, and doesn't settle in for the night until about 1 or 2am. This does not make for an easy transition into early mornings. I hear all the time about how to make the morning rush easier, how to get the kids up and out of the house without a struggle; my kids aren't the problem. I'm the one who would not hear the alarm at 6am, and by 7:30 we'd all be scrambling probably three or four days a week, just to get UP and out the door. Thankfully, homeschooling allows me the freedom to "do school" on my brain's schedule, not the one determined by the local administration. This is yet another one where I have to say, "I do NOT know how you do it."
- I'm selfish, and I want to be the one seeing all their 'light bulb" moments. I love watching my children learn. I love seeing the fascination in their eyes as they soak up information and I simply cannot fathom sharing that look of accomplishment that they get upon mastering a new skill. I just can't. I'm their mother. I want to be the one with them as they learn to read. I want to be the one cheering them on to apply that new division skill.
- I ENJOY being with my children. It perplexes me to be confronted by parents who seemingly cannot stand being around their own offspring. Goodness, folks--if YOU don't like 'em, do you really think a complete stranger is going to be thrilled to have to spend all day with them!? No, I'm not the type of person who makes an idol of my progeny; I rather enjoy having that elusive quiet time to myself and a date every so often with the man I married, but I have to tell you--I find it rather strange to hear a mother say she cannot wait to get away from her children. It seems very counter-intuitive to me. I happen to like mine. Even the little tornado whose damage path leaves me pulling my hair out several times a week. My life would be completely different if they weren't an all-day, every-day fixture in my life, and I dare say I wouldn't enjoy it as much.
- I don't like summer vacation. It's hot, and I don't like hot. Everywhere you can go is crowded, and I don't like crowds. I would much rather spend my summer inside, in the comfort of my air conditioned house, sipping sweet tea with reckless abandon. I like to take our time "off" when everyone else is in school--during the cool days of fall and spring, when being outside is gloriously refreshing and the crowds are sparse. I'm weird that way. Of course, I also detest Black Friday, which has on more than one occasion been used to support the idea that I'm more than a little bit goofy in this respect. Point is, I don't like being told when to take my vacations. If my husband is off work, ALL of us are off. When it's less crowded and cooler, we take our vacations and enjoy being somewhat removed from the craziness.
- There is no way I have the patience for institutionalized education. This one goes WAY back. I do not like being told I have to stop what I'm doing and wait for the rest of the class to catch up. I spent many a day in elementary school bored out of my skull, and I don't want that for my children. If they want to work ahead, I let them. Oh--and the other thing about waiting--I do NOT do well in lines. Waiting for the first bell, waiting around in the bus lane, I just get very restless. I don't like waiting 9 weeks for a progress report or report card to know if one of my children is having trouble in any particular subject. I don't like waiting. If there's a problem, I want to know now so I can work on it. Maybe y'all had better luck, but the only time during our three years of experience in the public school system, I had virtually zero communication with my children's teachers unless it was time for a progress report or report card.
- Excused absences. I loathe them. The idea that a child who has not seen his or her father for six months would have to miss a day's assignments and potentially risk their grades because Dad is being welcomed home from a deployment is not just unfathomable, it's INEXCUSABLE. Oh, and in case you are wondering, this actually happened to several of our friends the days their dads came home from a deployment to Saudi Arabia/Kuwait. In fact, my children were two of the very few school-age children who were present when those buses pulled up because it was during school hours, and the school didn't allow them an excused absence. I find it ridiculous that a parent has to justify an absence with a doctor's note. Who do these children belong to, anyway? Shoot, if we need a mental health day, we're taking one!
- Textbooks give me the creeps. It's like Bac-O's. I don't serve my kids fake bacon, and I'm not keen on the idea of them getting watered-down, purified, politicized, and politically-corrected lessons.
- Buses. I've ridden them. My older two children have had experience with them. They're horrible. Everything about them is horrible. Again, petty? Maybe. But these are MY complaints, remember? My turn.
- I do not EVER want my children to be targeted by bullies just because they love to learn. I want to be by their sides as they mature, showing them how to handle situations and circumstances they do not understand or that make them uncomfortable. I do not want them to ever feel as if they are alone in this big world. Go ahead, tell me I'm sheltering them. I assure you, I'm doing little more for them than I would my baby cucumber plants, which I lovingly "train" up a trellis so they can spread their leaves and have something to grab onto for support when wind or harsh rain threatens.
- This may be the most maddening of all of my reasons, but I guarantee you, it is behind every single excuse I hear listed by those who "can't" homeschool for any of a hundred reasons. The reason? I DON'T WANT TO. There. I said it. Is there something "wrong" with not wanting to send my kids to public school? Only if there's something "wrong" with not wanting to homeschool.