Monday, March 9, 2009

I am freaking out.

What kind of crazy scheme have I gotten myself into?  Can I really do this?  I must have been insane to think I could take on this kind of responsibility.  I'm terrified. Seriously, what was I thinking?

People are going to think we're weird.  The school already thinks we're weird.  I think we're weird!  How do I explain this choice to people who think homeschoolers are crazy?  A few months ago, I was one of them!  People are going to talk about us, I just know it.

My kids will be pariahs in town!  All their friends will forget about them!  And their friends will surpass them in learning and it will be my fault!

There is no way Supersim and I can get along, all day, every day.  There is no way I can get her to do math.  Just doing half an hour of homework is a struggle.  Why did I think I could do this?  And Dudeman will get so sick of me, he'll go into teenage mode early and start rolling his eyes and asking to get a tattoo. 

We'll give up after a month and I will have to crawl back to the school and contritely ask them to re-enroll my kids.  Who, as I said, will be way behind and it will be whose fault again? 

Does this post sound like the ramblings of a person who has lost it?  It is! I am freaking out.  Insomnia! Anxiety attacks!  Is there such a thing as Obsessive Research Disorder?  I think I have it.  Doing research calms me down, because I learn about others who tried homeschooling and survived.

Now I understand why so many homeschooling Moms have blogs.  It's so you can pound out all your fear, put it up here on the screen where it isn't so scary.  It's a storage bin for insecurities. 

And they all join groups.  Groups that tell each other, "Rah! Rah!  You can do it!"  Because we need to hear that!  I so need to hear that!

I need to calm down and remind myself why I started researching homeschooling the first place.  I have a kid who is unhappy and stressed, and a kid who is spending more time on playground soap operas than on schoolwork.  I have 2 kids with very high aspirations, and I don't see them getting there without more challenging and appropriate learning opportunities. I have a smart kid who doesn't think she's smart because she learns differently than classroom teachers teach.  I have a sensitive kid who takes every criticism to heart and is tired of getting yelled at by adults all day.

Don't hyperventilate!  It's going to be OK.  This isn't the end of the world, even if it doesn't work out.
Yes, people will probably think we're weird, but people already think we're weird, so nothing will change there.  I remember mentioning to someone that we had never traveled without our kids, and she said, "You never GET AWAY FROM THEM?"  No, I've never really wanted to.  I guess that's hard for some to understand.  

I'm already known at school as the mom with "eccentric" ideas.  I was the only mother who complained about the candy-for-reading incentive program.  I just didn't think kids should get suckers for reading books.  The reward for reading a book is that you read a book.  Totally blank looks from the other moms.  

No getting around it, we're already weird.  We travel with our kids.  We don't pay our kids to learn with candy. We have way too many pets.  We don't let our kids play Halo.  Yeah, weird.

It was probably a mistake to try to explain myself to the teachers and the principal.  I should have just pulled them out and said, "We're traveling," or something and let it be.  I was trying to give them the old "it's not you, it's me" line, but it didn't really work. Of course Dudeman's teacher was offended--after all she has years of training and experience.  I'm guessing she thinks I'm arrogant to suggest that I can do more for my son than she can.

Deep down, she must realize that 2 kids and 2 teachers is better than 1 teacher with 25 kids.  Or maybe not, I have no idea what she's thinking.  After all, we're 2/3 of the way through the school year and she hasn't figured out a way to challenge or even interest him yet.  

The other day I was cruising the education section at the bookstore (Obsessive Research Disorder), and it struck me just how few books there were that actually talked about educating kids.  There were several inspirational books about innovative teachers who had accomplished the impossible with a group of "unteachable" kids.  The usual collection of "what's wrong with the system" theories. Lots of books about dealing with certain learning disabilities.  Several books about phonics, which don't really apply to us anymore. And TONS of books about discipline, classroom management, and keeping a classroom organized.  I counted three books that claimed to inspire kids to be creative and enjoy learning.  (I bought one of them, and it has not yet mentioned worksheets or candy.)

Here's one of my constant gripes.  The school gets them for 6 hours a day (not including the hour it takes to pack up lunches, get ready and get there.)  So why do they need to do 3 more worksheets and then practice math facts at home?  

I only get 4 hours with them before bedtime and I resent the time they spend on homework.  And it's rarely useful work!  Sometimes I suspect that the teachers assign it to prove to parents that kids are learning.  But it encroaches on our family time.  I would tell the kids not to do it, but I hate for them to get in trouble the next day. 

My apologies for this rant, but after all, isn't that what a homeschool mom's blog is all about?  Now excuse me, I have to go find my cheerleaders so we can tell each other just how right and capable we are.

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