Monday, May 28, 2012

Somebody give me the answer, PLEASE

So, homeschooling. Turns out I kind of stink at it.

We are contemplating sending Frankie back to school next year. Dean is fine with whatever decision we make (he lives such a stress-free existence I think if I asked him if he was worried about his upcoming heart and double lung transplant he'd say "no"), but you can't go by him. No matter the issue, I will find myself sweating in a corner furiously cracking my knuckles and wailing something incoherently about Sophie's Choice and he will be calmly meditating and chewing a sandwich slowly.

To me, this decision is fraught with peril. On the one hand, you have homeschooling. In an ideal world, homeschooling would consist of a mother who was organized and disciplined and didn't yell "Sure!" when her children asked if they could watch another episode of My Little Pony because she was absorbed in do-it-yourself faux-marbleizing on Pinterest. There would be craft stations and tidy journal entries about Latin phrases. Scientific experiments, not discarded issues of Martha Stewart Living, would litter the dining room table. In reality, we mostly spent each day in our pajamas reviewing the concepts of proper nouns and pronouns ad nauseum (if only I had told her what this meant, we would have officially studied Latin). Sometimes, the whole day would be slipping away and the girls would be in the bathtub at four-thirty and I would have to quickly pull out the bathtub markers and write some triple digit sums on the fiberglass surround. Then I would congratulate myself heartily on making homeschooling so interesting (can't learn math in the bathtub at real school, now can you!).

To be fair, this year was not my best effort in terms of not only homeschooling, but, well, life in general. We've accomplished more in the last month than we have the rest of the year. In fact, if I'm not careful, I might start to think maybe I am getting the hang of the homeschooling thing and, look at that, she is reading fifth grade words and she can regroup for addition. Maybe the year wasn't a total loss after all.

But on the other hand, you have real school, where someone is actually paid to leave their house and their laundry and their cooking and their other children to come and pay attention to making you learn something for eight hours straight! And there are still other teachers whose entire jobs are related to setting up tempera paint and chalk pastels for your personal use. And, here comes the best part, I would not be responsible for any of the aforementioned educational activities. This is the most important part.

But here are the worries I have about real school:

1) A six-year-old just told my husband to shut up today. Dean just met this six-year-old not ten minutes earlier. This six-year-old goes to real school. According to the beginning logic that I am teaching Frankie (score one point for me), if a six-year-old tells a stranger to shut up AND a six-year-old goes to real school, then THEREFORE all six-year-olds who go to real school tell strangers to shut up. Are you following me here? And for the record, Dean asked the six-year-old if it was okay to shut his bedroom door so the baby wouldn't wander in. And the response was "Shut up." This actually brings up another worry about real school because saying "shut up" to that question doesn't even make any sense. Something like "Leave me alone" or "I hate you" would have made more sense. So, the real question becomes, what are they teaching them at real school? Because it is clearly not sentences that make sense.

2) Frankie is my child. When I take her to real school for her art, music and gym classes, she spends most of the morning asking me repeatedly if I will be waiting in the lobby for her and do I promise, please please please, PROMISE that I won't go to the bathroom. Then she stands anxiously biting her nails and sometimes crying until the teacher takes her physically by the hand to walk with the rest of the class. Then she shoots me long despairing looks. Some might say this is because of homeschooling, but those who knew me as a child would say this is a reason to homeschool, knowing I spent all of my non-homeschooled elementary school years biting my own nails and crying about not having any friends.

3) Who will play princesses and ponies with Molly when Frankie is at school? This is of huge concern to me, because I do not, under any circumstances, want to have to pretend my name is Apple Blossom and my mane is rainbow colored. Nor do I want to pretend that I have no mom and both my legs are broken.

4)When do children who attend real school find time for other things like gymnastics and Awana and piano lessons and church and soccer games? Because it seems to me that after an eight hour day, they'll be ready to kick back and watch some My Little Pony  instead of hearing their mother harangue them that their forte wasn't forte enough.

But finally, four concerns about homeschooling:

1) Will my child be preternaturally attracted to denim jumpers?

2) Will my child's brain atrophy if she is busy pretending her name is Rainbow Dash for more hours than she spends spotting action verbs?

3) Will there be glaring gaps in her education, where suddenly she will have an acute need to know the capital of Ghana and I will have forgotten to progress beyond identifying Mississippi?

4) Will she live in an upstairs room in my home in adulthood biting her nails and wondering where I am using the toilet?

 Sophie's choice seems way easier right now.


Carley Hwang said...

For the record, I don't think I could find Mississippi on a map of the United States. And I definitely do not know the capital of Ghana.

radrev said...

I'm dying laughing. Dying.

radrev said...

Specifically, the premature love of denim jumpers...and, the primary concern that, in addition to a 6 yr old's saying shut up to an adult being disrespectful, it doesn't make sense in the sentence.

Totally homeschool. Frankie can't get this kind of stuff at school. Well, maybe at Montessori. Nah, not even there.

~ Sarah Groh Bishop

Janice said...

this made me laugh very hard. All of it. And cry a little too since you know I have the same issues. I know we say this a lot, but we really need to live next door to each other. Then we could commiserate together about how every decision we make is wrong.

And I think it is perfectly awful that since I have kids I not only am haunted by the fact that most of my dreams for myself are incompatible with each other, but I can also not give my children all the options I want to give them. It's incredibly aggravating to always be picking one thing and looking longingly at the other options while I think, "but that would have been soooooo nice too..."