We wake up in the morning, every morning, to a mad dash. Squirt mustard on bread, start coffee, fumble through the deli drawer for lunch meat, fight with plastic wrapping around the box of juice boxes, find lunch boxes, see incomplete homework on the table (now dotted with milk drippings and soggy Cheerios), and shoes! Why don’t you have your shoes on yet? Lila, your hair! Grab a brush, bring it to the car, Backpacks! Go, go, go, now, now, now, mooooove!
Our lives are divided by bus routines, cluttered by paperwork, by needing to pass our parenting decisions through the proper channels (I’m sorry, but no, Alex will not be in school today. Why? Because I said so. That ought to be good enough, seeing as I am his mother.)
Thing is, I have always had a beef with public school, or with the powers that be forcing me to conform their ways. I resented having to go to school for such long hours, when most of what I felt like I was ever doing was staring out the windows, watching cars drive past and wondering what the world was actually like.
I tested well. I collected my honor roll rewards from my parents. I received praise on my report cards.
But, the truth is, I have retained approximately zero of what I was supposed to have learned in high school. Sad to say, I believe I have retained very little of what I learned in college either. My brain doesn’t hold information for very long if it is only processed via lectures and notes and test-taking.
I know this, because I cannot tell you much of what I learned in AP American History, but I can tell you, in detail (and even some broken Romanian) about Romanian culture and the country where I spent a semester in college. You see, I did not sit in classrooms, I worked with people, I spoke with people, and I learned out of a true desire and need. As it turns out, I need to live, to learn.
And now, as a parent, I find myself again being asked to conform our very busy, very family-centric lives into this small one-size fits all box that doesn’t seem to have changed at all (for the better) since they first put me in it years ago.
There’s a scene in the movie My Best Friend’s Wedding when Julia Roberts and Dermot Mulroney are on a ferry where she feels the weight of a moment as it’s passing. On one side of the bridge is possibility, the other, a closed door. The moment opened, presented itself, then closed.
I’m feeling this weight more and more so these past few weeks, though not in terms of a lost romance or missed relationship (still quite happy with Vinnie, and expect to stay that way), but in terms of my children.
This coming year feels like a bridge moment for us. We are hoping to be moving and will most likely be leaving this town. Pulling our kids from one school system to another mid-school year doesn’t seem very fair.
And their ages now seem to be perfectly aligned to start. At eight, Alex is responsible, a good learner and a good teacher for his siblings. At six, Lila has the basics down and does well when working with Alex. Asher is four and will just be starting preschool, he pulls himself up to the table whenever the kids do their homework, curious and wanting to participate himself. And Evaline, well, she could do with some more structured family time as well.
To have more control over our family, over how and when and where they learn, would be wonderful. That they could learn more in a few hours here than in the seven that they spend away from home, that they could still participate in any social clubs or sports teams, that we could structure our lives around, well, our lives, sounds perfect.
In fact, it all sounds well and good and daydreaming of the fall, being free from the strings and logistics of running on the public school’s plan, it all makes me eager to just get there. To start. To jump off into this adventure, arms wide open.
Then again, not so fast.
Because the reality is this: I am not a teacher. I do not have the skill set or the patience to do the job of a public school teacher. I am terrified of messing up. I am nervous about being forced to sit down and go head-to-head with my strong willed daughters. I am anxious about being lazy, about being busy, about all of the hundreds of thousands of ways I could make a complete mess of this entire situation.
Not to even mention that most days, I count the minutes until my husband comes home, clinging to whatever shred of sanity I have left after hours of trying to cram my full time job and mothering and general household duties into every moment of the day. As irritating as it is to get my kids onto that bus, It’s just so easy at the same time. And sometimes, let’s be honest, easy sounds pretty nice.
What is the “best fit” for my child? For my children? It’s a fantastic question. It’s THE question. They are certainly not one-size-fits-all, and I believe they deserve a better, broader understanding of what life-long learning means, of what education means.
And while if we do go ahead and do this homeschool thing, I am certain we will have many, many failing moments, and that my children will be leading and educating me nearly as much as I am them, I cannot in my heart find a better answer to the question of what is the “best fit” for my child than wherever God leads.
And flawed as I am, terrified as I am, I want to be obedient to whatever it is that He places on m heart as best for my family.