Friday, March 18, 2016

Never Say Never

I am not missing, but I've been hiding. I keep thinking about the blog, and haven't been sure what to write or how to talk about what's been going on here. It's certainly not a tragic situation, but it's been quite an adjustment for my family. Here's the deal:

My son completes his 8th week of school this week. He's attending the lovely little school at our church.

I still have a hard time believing he's going to school. This is my 11th year homeschooling. I love having my children home with me, and I love being able to give them a living education, so unlike what I experienced in public school.

How did we get to this place?

For the last 3.5 years, since we officially started "school" with him, I've been trying to teach this child. It's been an uphill battle, every single day. And, I do mean battle. He fought me constantly when we'd try to work together. It didn't seem to matter what I did. Believe me, I tried what seemed like everything. I kept thinking he'd grow out of this need to push back against school work, but he just didn't. He took all my time and energy, and I was not able to engage with my high schoolers the way I wanted. I didn't feel I was doing well by anyone. No one was getting what they needed from me.

When we found out we were moving to Colorado, I was thrilled to discover a Charlotte Mason school here. I thought that would be the answer to everything. He would go there, until the girls had graduated high school, and then he would come back home with me. Unfortunately, they are not in need of students his age, so when he didn't test as being ready for their second grade, they weren't willing to work with us. I felt a little desperate at that point, as I really needed some help with him, but I had to believe if he'd needed to go there, God would have worked it out. Isaac really liked that school, and said he wanted to go, so we began to try to get him up to speed with reading, handwriting and math so he could. He didn't seem to understand that he had to do some actual work to get caught up, and he was no more motivated to work with me, even knowing he could have gone to that wonderful school with the playground and the fish pond (the reasons he gave me for wanting to attend there).

He struggled with the upheaval of our move from North Carolina to Colorado, as we all did. There were a lot of good things about our new home for him. We moved into a house that is right next to a park, and with lots of kids there in the summer. He got to play there a lot. There are some boys living in the house behind us, and he quickly made friends with them. We had a couple of months of settling in before we officially started our school year in Colorado, but we fell back into our pattern of discord as soon as I got the school books back out.

We started attending a church here, and our pastor's wife, Sara, turned out to be a tutor (and is becoming a dear friend). She agreed to work with Isaac, which helped somewhat. As I described my struggles in working with him, she encouraged me to talk to the principal at the school there. To my surprise, the principal was willing and eager to work with us. She, Sara, and the second grade teacher (who also happens to be my girls' youth group leader) came up with all kinds of ways to help him, as he's not reading on grade level. God removed all of my objections, one by one, and I knew we'd have to send him.

I've been having a rather schizophrenic conversation with myself.

Homeschooling mom (HSM): "You are the parent. Surely you can figure out how to work with your own son?"

Tired of Fighting mom (TFM): "I agree with you, but it's been 3.5 years and nothing I've tried has worked yet."

HSM: "You're a homeschool fraud and a failure."

TFM: "I am so tired of fighting with this child."

HSM: "Surely there is something we haven't tried yet. Have you considered [insert idea from any of many well-meaning homeschooling friends]?"

TFM: "Yes. Don't you remember when we did that?" or, "No, we didn't try that, but we've tried SO MANY THINGS hoping that it would fix all our problems, and nothing has."

HSM: "It's always better for kids to be at home."

TFM: "I wanted to believe that, too."

HSM: "I miss him when he's not here."

TFM: "I miss him, too."

HSM: "Are you sure you love him enough? Maybe you don't love him enough."

TFM: "The only reason I was able to consider this at all is that I love him so much. I don't want to destroy our relationship or his love of learning. My relationship with my son is more important than my ideals."

This is still going on, but I'm able to ignore them (or at least live with them) most of the time now. I spent a lot of time crying, the first week or two, and I do miss him. I've seen amazing improvement in Isaac already, though. He's taken initiative every day to get himself ready to go to school, and after the first day, told me I could drop him off at the door and pick him up in the carpool line - I was not to come in with him. When it's been snowy, he's packed his own snow pants and boots so he could play in the giant snow pile in the parking lot.

He doesn't seem to mind that he doesn't have nearly as much free time as he did. He gets THREE recesses at school, which he thinks is fantastic. (Never mind that he had hours of free time at home...) He loves being around all the other children. Honestly, he was lonely at home. With my teens' schedules, he wasn't getting much social activity. He's still working with his tutor twice a week after school, and will have to do that through the summer. He has to read to me each night, but he's more willing to do that now than he was when it was only my idea. There have been very few days when he didn't want to go to school. 

The hardest part has been realizing that this means my homeschooling journey will probably come to an end quite a bit sooner than I thought it would. My girls are in high school, and even if I really stretch things out, I have a maximum of 4 more years (and that is assuming they both take a "gap year"). I don't see bringing Isaac back home. It's not that I don't want to, or that I wouldn't. If that's what needed to be, I would do it in a heartbeat. He enjoys school tremendously, is doing so well, and I know it would be hard for him to be the only child at home. At the end of the day, I'm grateful. I'm grateful we are able to send him to a private, Christian school, at our church, where I know and love the people. I'm grateful he's doing so well, even though I'm having to bite my tongue at some things I just don't agree with about the way things are taught. I'm grateful that my son and I are able to enjoy each other more in this season.

I forgot, somewhere along the way, that this little Person has a mind of his own (does he ever!) and that what I want, for me, is not necessarily what is best for him. This school is what is best for him right now. I'm getting closer to acceptance and peace with it. God's helping me see what was right and what went wrong, and He's made it clear this is where Isaac needs to be for now. 


  1. Dear Beth,
    You're so funny, even when life seems upsetting! It sounds like you did the thing that respected him as a person. It's hard when it wasn't "our plan", but His ways are infinitely better than ours - right?

    The change in your day will make you all the more joyful and thrilled to have everyone together. Plus, all that CM-love-of-learning stuff might just become more alive to him than ever before.

    You must be so very grateful for your friends, church, and school.

    And you're such a great mom. Really.


  2. I've been there. One of my kids simply ground to a halt and refused to do any schoolwork in 5th grade. We ended up sending him to private school the following school year.

    Try not to take responsibility for his choices. I know it's hard.

  3. Shecki, thank you. It's hard NOT to take responsibility for his choices, because I still feel like since I'm the parent, we should have been able to work this out somehow. I'm having a harder time adjusting than I thought I would.

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  5. That is a really great point - he is going to choose his own path, whether or not it's the one I would choose. It sounds like your son is doing really well now! That's great for you, and him, and it gives me hope. <3