Okay, so that’s not really what they say, but it’s that time of year. School is starting back up, and everywhere I go with my kids, I hear “You must be ready for them to go back to school” or my kids hear “I bet your mom is ready for you to go back to school.” This happens even more when my kids have a bad day and tend to be more wild or get in more trouble than they usually do.
This annoys me to no end. First of all, I never looked forward to my kids going back to school. I enjoy my time with my children, even when they misbehave or talk back or otherwise act in a way I don’t really want them to. This is not to say that people who send their kids to public school don’t enjoy time with their kids, but when you make comments such as “You must be ready for them to go back to school” or “I can’t wait for my kids to go back to school”, that’s the implication.
Second, since we homeschool, there is no distinction, no line drawn that changes summer to school. I mean, yes, we do start active learning again come September, where we make sure certain things get covered during our school year. But I don’t have a calendar on which I’m crossing off the days waiting for the first day of school, or dreading the long days of summer (well, okay actually, I do dread the long days of summer, but for a totally different reason. Have you been to the south in the summer? Blech!). It’s basically just another day for us.
And while we’re on the subject, when you make those back to school comments, and I tell you that we homeschool, don’t give me that pitying “oh, I feel such sympathy for you” look. I choose to homeschool. It’s a decision I actively made, knowing what I was getting into and what the benefits were. This is not something I do because I have no choice, and it certainly isn’t something I hate doing. If I hated doing it, I would send my kids back to public school and be done with it. I enjoy homeschooling my kids, whether you believe it or not. Maybe you don’t have the patience, the skill, or the whatever it is you think I have that you don’t to be able to homeschool, but I do.
Yes, we have our bad days. Yes, there are days when my kids talk back so much, or get way too hyper (they do have ADHD, after all; it does happen), and I send them to their room so that I can have just five minutes of peace and quiet to myself. There are days when nothing goes as planned. There are days when I get frustrated because I’m tired or cranky, or the kids are tired or cranky, or I lose the materials I planned to use that day, or the batteries in our Kindles simultaneously need to be recharged just when we’re sitting down to do our reading, or…the list is endless. Yes, we have those days.
But we also have days when we get up, and we get things done, and everyone gets along and is happy and cheerful and we finish earlier than planned. We play board games together, watch movies together, go for walks in the woods or spend a day at the beach, or many other things that we didn’t have time for when the kids went to public school. We laugh together, and we talk. We have discussions about books we read, shows we watch, and ideas that my kids come up with. We discuss everything from Percy Jackson and the Lightning Thief, comparing book to movie, to the idea my oldest has come up with to put a stop to global warming (an idea which, by the way, is not viable, but hey, he came up with an idea!).
And those days, the good days, far outweigh the bad. They make it totally worth having my kids home 24/7. They remind me that I’m doing what’s best not only for my kids’ education, but for my relationships with them, and their relationship with each other.
So when you make your back to school comments, and give me your pitying looks, you’re actually insulting my relationships with my kids. You’re insulting my decision to homeschool, and insulting the benefits my kids get from homeschooling.
I understand that if you’ve never homeschooled, have no desire to homeschool, or don’t understand homeschooling, then you don’t understand what we do or why we do it. And I don’t demand that you try. All I ask is that you not act like I’m some kind of martyr for homeschooling, and stop suggesting I’m ready to shuffle my kids off to be in the care of others all day because I don’t want to care for them anymore for a while.
Is that really so much to ask?