I am not pro-homeschool, public, private, co-op, military (best money we ever spent), charter, un or free range.
The way I see it, you do what ya gotta do. And I have tried them all. This year our daughter will graduate from college. She was Classically homeschooled from the 2nd grade through high school. Her junior year in high school, on a field trip in Oxford England, she was walking with a professor and she casually mentioned how the scenery reminded her of Dante’s Inferno. Later she brought up a parallel between a current event and a principle from Hitler’s Mein Kampf. Further into the day she mentioned “Bede: The Evangelical History of the English people.” The professor stopped and said, “Who are you? And why have you read these things??? Have you been locked in a basement?”
Impressive right? Yeah well, she can recite the Nicaean Creed in Latin but can’t file her taxes or find the post office. When she read this blog she yelped, “This entire blog post is Ad Hominem AND Ad Populeum with a touch of Chronological Snobbery!”
I waited until she left to wait tables at a pizza place before I looked up what she was talking about.
She was infacto righto.
Last week we dropped John and Luke off at college. As a homeschool mom, the weight of their success feels heavy on my shoulders. I imagine the Dean calling me, “Uh, you said you home educated? Cause these two are dumber than a bag of hammers? What exactly did you teach them? How to make toast???”
And I know they’re ok, I did my best… Most days. And by most days I mean the first days.
The first days of a new homeschool year are like a Disney movie.
One year, when all four kids were home, I left a window open and while I was teaching Logic & Rhetoric a bird flew in our house and landed on my shoulder.
I was like freaking Snow White. The children sat at my feet and I read The Aeneid to them, then I chimed their Latin vocabulary whilst this bird sang along.
Two days later I beat that bird to death with a tennis racket.
In my defense, it wouldn’t get out and it pooped on the couch. And, later we dissected it for biology. Then one of the boys stuffed it for his Taxidermy credit.
I am not one of those moms that attaches my identity to my kids. I am my own kind of hot mess. But the first time that everyone went to school I sat on the floor and cried. An hour later I drank champagne and sold everything in the home classroom on Ebay – for a dollar.
Alas, we are back in business. Three in college, and now we are living on the ranch again, Sophie is a freshman and someone needs to teach the vandals, our toddler sons, to read. That someone… is me. First on the list, replace everything I sold on Ebay for a dollar with $2000 worth of books, manipulatives, posters, crayons, and Xanax.
Next, HAVE THE BEST YEAR EVER!!!!!
The homeschool mom/teacher is no different than every other parent or teacher on the first day of school. It is all new! It’s a fresh start! We iron their little shirts and we put on mascara. We smell the crayons and put little names tags on their desks. The hills are alive with the freaking sound of music. The grand design is to teach Chemistry to the high-schooler and allow the three-year-old to participate; then in the event I am killed in a fiery crash and he is forced into the public school system in the 5th grade, he will already know the Periodic table.
Please, put this on my tombstone.
The larger difference is that right before the first lesson on the blessed first day of school, one of my students walked in on me in the shower.
You can’t un-see your third-grade teacher naked. It takes away something from the rest of the year. She’s reviewing times tables with you and you picture her naked butt bent over shaving her legs. There’s a level of integrity that cannot be regained. And maybe this is where homeschooling derails. The fresh start is a lie. Yesterday afternoon you were screaming “I swear by all that is good and holy if you don’t get out of the pool right now I will kick your lung out!!!!” And the next morning that same raging lunatic is at the dining room table chirping “Good morning class! Let’s begin this beautiful day off with a Word of Prayer before we recite poetry from the 18th century Masters!”
Ok, so the fresh start is just a fallacy. There are new crayons and a warm homemade blackberry muffin at each work-station, but the same toilet just overflowed for the 100th time. Now instead of creative writing we are distracting the 6-year-old from yelping, “EWWWW! That plumber’s whole butt is hanging out of his pants.”
One room classrooms often model a three ring circus. And there was a part of me that couldn’t really fathom starting all over with the vandals. Teaching them to read, wrestling with math facts. Bouncing back and forth from Saxon Math to anything more fun and always settling back on Saxon for the effectiveness.
Darn you Saxon math, you infallible powerhouse of numerical wonder.
But here I am, trying to decide what to wear to my “first day” in my own dining room. I can only conclude that fresh starts are just human nature. A start and finish line brings comfort and hope and seems to be written on my soul. I need to know that new crayons will come and old crayons will be melted into candles for the Candle making credit. Furthermore, no matter where my kids go to school, there will be good days, bad days, inclement weather days, sick days, and days my students see me naked. Just like every mom, I just want good things for them.
So, here we go. Back to school, blessings on each and every one of your school year. See you at the finish line loves, I’ll bring the champagne!
May your floors be sticky and your children educated! Love, Jami
Check out this FABULOUS BLOG by my friend Katie M. Reid: No matter how you school this is for you:Dear Mom: Some Thoughts on Expectations and Victories