Monthly Archives: September 2011

It’s not you, it’s the other idiots!

Here is a slightly blonder visual aid of my weekWhen I was learning to drive, my cool, calm and collected drive instructor (a.k.a Dad) told me the most valuable piece of driving information. He informed me in no uncertain terms that he was in fact not worried about whether or not I would be a good driver, because (and I quote): “It’s the other idiots on the road you need to worry about!” And so began my illustrious first driving lesson that ended with me running over a snake sunning itself in the road, almost hitting a mailbox in my attempt to avoid the snake, and finally returning home with a solemn vow to enlist the aid of public transit to get anywhere I needed in life as I would almost certainly never again be behind the wheel of a car.

Of course I moved past that disastrous first attempt and went on to become a very conscientious driver, but the message of that day has stayed with me. Sometimes the things that cause the most trouble in your life (or day) are the other drivers – and unfortunately, there’s not much to be done about them.

Today was one of those days.

Wow. I missed this gem in my training all those years ago.

Without getting into specifics, I will say that the drama in our homeschooling adventures these past 2 days has had almost nothing to do with the students in my house (almost). Instead we have fallen victim to the distractions that present themselves in the form of frustrating phone calls that MUST be made during bankers (aka schooling) hours, frustrating letters that generate these phone calls, having to retell your tale more than once and receive multiple call backs with conflicting instructions on how to resolve the issues, and an overwhelming lack of SERVICE of any kind!

I spoke to more than one of these peeps today.

Now while I don’t allow my children to use the descriptive word in my title, I can honestly say that my vocabulary choices today are a reflection of the fact that I’ve had it. Plain and simple. I’ve had it with the lack of customer service in almost every area of my life. I’m just plain OVER it. Oh, and if I could go back in time and tell myself what I’ve learned over these past few weeks of homeschooling it would have nothing to do with school and everything to do with Home Management 101. You see, B.H. (Before Homeschooling) I was a fairly organized Home CEO. I menu planned, grocery shopped with coupons, kept a detailed budget spreadsheet, handled all Dr. appointments, service calls, mail and bills, made sure all the floors were cleaned, the tables and other surfaces regularly sanitized and the washing was done on time.

Enter homeschooling.

Now while I’ve managed to keep up with pretty much everything on this list, I’ll confess there is ONE set of recurring issues that I just can’t seem to manage. Because it can’t be done!  And the reason it is literally impossible to manage, is because while I can anticipate needs and bills, thus budgeting my time and money accordingly, I cannot possibly anticipate the inane conversations between myself and the creditors, lenders, repair personnel, bankers, or customer service representatives I have to deal with nationwide. No. That is an impossible feat. However, if I could bottle and sell the secret to managing this enormous time-waster in my day, I’d be a wealthy homeschooling mom, because surely Every. Single. Homeschool Family on this PLANET has to be feeling my pain here?!

These things that used to be an annoying blip on the radar of my day, are now cataclysmic cyclones that blow through our time together,  derailing schedules, lesson plans, and reading assignments, leaving a trail of  frustration in their wake! They represent the tyranny of the urgent and I can’t get rid of them even if I wanted to. Why? Because do you have any idea at all how much research it takes to fire your bank? Turns out it’s HOURS and HOURS!

So tomorrow, I’ve vowed I’m not picking up the phone. If I can help it.  Because the alternative is frankly too demoralizing to consider!!

My day on the phone x 180 = No graduation. No pressure!

Burnt Toast and Miranda Rights

Oh yeah, it was MONDAY.

So today has been a MONDAY – in every CAPS LOCK sense of the word. There was basic non-descript bickering after breakfast, a staggered start to school work (not really the kids’ fault), more sibling irritation, and finally, a broken vacuum-cleaner that totally derailed the rest of the academic day. But as I was driving my 3 kids, their school work, and my broken vacuum cleaner to the repair shop (again – but that’s another story), I began to think about how few people I could actually tell about my horrible morning. I know that most of the issues I now relate will sound far-fetched and hypothetical, but it has been brewing in my subconscious for a while, so here it is.

I feel like when we decided to homeschool our kids, I signed away my rights to complain. About anything. I am no longer allowed to comment that my kids had a bad day at school. Or that I’m struggling with their schoolwork. I’m not allowed to sigh that no one was able to focus this morning (even me). Or that despite my best efforts, some of the material we covered today probably went right over my 2nd grader’s sweet head.Nope, I'm fine. Nothing to see here!

Why?

Because it is now, officially and forever, and ever amen, MY FAULT if any of these things occur.

Melodrama, much?

OK, let me explain how it works: When parents (with kids attending a traditional-style school) have a hard day with their kid’s homework, they tell other parents (in the same class or school) about their dire situation . . . then the other parents nod and agree about how difficult the work is, how they wish the teacher didn’t assign so many pages, how the tests are too frequent, and how they are frustrated about the whole system. However, now that I’ve gone ahead and ditched the system, I apparently have no one to blame but myself (or my kids?) when things go awry in our day. (I do find this assumption to be both limiting and preposterous, but there you have it.)

It’s as if there is a certain commiseration chip that no one feels compelled to employ with homeschoolers! In fact, the sentiment I find heartily expressed among the general population is that I brought this on myself and my kids with our decision to homeschool and if I don’t like it, I should go back to regular school. No matter that NO ONE would EVER suggest the opposite to a parent complaining about a day in regular school. Ever. Just saying.

This guy? He's for SURE a homeschool parent!If I sound like I’m a tad bitter, I’m really not. It’s more of a sad observation, really. I know I could simply call up one of my homeschooling buddies and share these thoughts with them, but somehow it smacks of deprivation or bias that I can’t just unload on my other friends the way we’re all accustomed to! I miss it, in a way. Not that I NEED to complain, my kids are great and typically I don’t have much to complain about, but when we have a tough moment, I miss the camaraderie.  Also,  it takes time to build up a solid network of local homeschooling peeps to turn to in the throws of this new endeavor; I had over 6 years experience in the other field. 😉

I suppose the other reason I feel more secure in keeping my mouth shut, is that I’m acutely aware of how many pairs of eyes are watching our every move. In very much a “watched piece of toast in the toaster” kind of way. Only instead of waiting for it to pop up, I feel as if all the pairs of eyes are all waiting for the toast to burn. Waiting for me throw my hands up in the air and say “OMG! What was I THINKING?? Why would ANYONE want to do THIS??” In that instant,  there would undoubtedly be throngs of people nodding their heads in agreement and commiserating with me that they had those same fears and how glad they are I’m returning to “they system” so we can all complain about THAT together again.

I should pause to note that I DO have a variety of supporters in both camps (homeschool and traditional school) who have been amazing throughout this journey and done nothing more than their absolute BEST to encourage me no matter the circumstances — and our kids’ closest friends have been amazing too.

Maybe this will silence the naysayers?

But the fact remains – my toast is not burning. The eyes grow increasingly curious as our school year evolves and I’m still not having a melt-down. So I’ll be darned if I let my “Monday” be known to the masses. Not to put on a ‘front’ or anything, but today I’m realizing why I should exercise my right to remain silent. And why there are probably many homeschool Mom’s feeling the same way.

Who likes Fractions?

Half Man, Half Lion . . . All Myth (and apparently part-time superhero!)

So we’ve officially made it 1/6 of the way through our experimental year of homeschooling. The early start we got in August means we’ve now completed 31 days (of the required 180).

I decided to take a poll at the dinner table tonight because I thought it would be interesting to see how (if at all) everyone’s perspectives and opinions will change throughout the year.

The conversation went like this . . .

M: So, we’re 1/6 of the way through our school year! Can you believe it?

Kids: YAY!

M: How does everyone feel about homeschooling now?

Kids: Umm. Great? (I think perhaps they thought this was a trick question?)

M: OK. So who thinks they might want to go back to (insert name of previous school) next ye. . .

(interrupted by yelling)

Kids: NOOOOOOO!!!!

Well then. I guess our 1/6 of the way through the school year update is that 3/3 of our student body has 0/3 desire to go back to regular school next year. I wonder how they will feel about that closer to Christmas? Or Spring Break? Or Summer? I guess time will tell!

I admit their adamant and unanimous reactions made me very curious about their reasons! So, I did ask why they felt this way.  I received a cacophony of reasons, basically boiling down to the same issue . . .  that (previous school) was too hard.  Hahahaha! (Do what???!!)

Now, I’m especially baffled by this because we are doing almost the exact curriculum as their school counterparts this year (yes, I admit it, I was too gun-shy to veer too far off the beaten path with our curriculum choices).  I pointed this fact out, along with the newsflash that they are actually doing MORE work right now because we have extra time for me to add in subjects they wouldn’t be taking at school right now – like creative writing, art, piano, current events, Lego (yes, that’s right), drama, and coming soon, typing and French – but no matter! They are convinced that this is easier, so for now I’m going to let it slide! It certainly plays to my advantage!! 😉

Or maybe they just feel that way because we did this before school this morning?

Early Morning PE anyone?

Or because they are currently curled up on the couch in their PJs watching “Chicken Run” and eating fudgesicles, instead of racing around getting homework finished or going to bed early for “school” tomorrow?

Either way, it works for right now. Which means so far, 1/6 of the year has been a success.