Tuesday, September 27, 2011

2:33 p.m., Any Given Weekday

This picture speaks volumes, if you know what to listen for.   

I’ve been homeschooling my kids since 1998.  None of the children who are currently homeschooled, with the exception of Clare for her kindergarten year, have ever been in traditional school.  12 days ago, (on Thursday the 15th) Clare, who is 10, faced off with me and told me she doesn’t want to do her schoolwork.  This was not a news flash.  We'd been having issues with her cooperation for almost two years.  She was just being honest - sassy, but honest - but I was tired of threatening her and telling her how much easier she had it with me rather than in school, tired of her draining me of time and energy and enthusiasm.  Within a few minutes I had called the principal and made an appointment, and before she knew what hit her, she started school last Monday.  I cried about the decision for 2 straight days, and she cried every day in school for the first week. 

It’s Tuesday of the second week now, and both of us have stopped crying, although we still both have mixed feelings about this development. We are spending the same amount of time on after-school homework that we used to spend on all of her daily work put together.  She misses being home, being with her sisters, spending time with me, and she regrets losing the freedom we used to enjoy. She's sorry that she didn't cooperate more.  She wishes she could just come back home.  I don’t think she’s learned enough of a lesson yet.  We agreed that she has to finish out the year, but that seems so terribly long to me.  I want her to do well in school, but not so well that she loves it and never wants to be homeschooled again. 

And yet, without her, I’m getting a lot more done with my other kids.  The younger girls are getting regular lessons every day now, where before I often ran out of time.  Noelle will be 5 on the day after Christmas, and she has already progressed to the point where she can read 75% of everything she sees.  The “reading” switch has been turned on in her head, and now she can’t stop herself!!!    And Theresa, who is almost 8, still wasn’t reading fluently, but in just the past 2 weeks she’s made huge improvements.  The small increase in time we're put in has already reaped huge dividends.

Because Clare needs to get up early, all the girls have been put to bed earlier so that the house quiets down enough for her to be able to sleep.  She is notoriously nosy, and can't settle down if they're being noisy in the hall or the next bedroom.

There's another bonus I should mention - since Clare needs to catch her bus at 7:18 a.m., we have been getting up at 6:30 a.m. every weekday. I have never been a morning person, so this has opened up a whole world of extra time that I didn't even know existed!  (Just kidding, but only barely)  I have several hours of the peace I crave before the baby and the twins wake up.  If we get cracking, Brian and I can complete his courseload by 10:00 a.m., instead of us just getting up and moving by the same time.  I still haven't figured out how to work in all the cooking and cleaning too, but hey, it's only been 7 days.  Give me time.

So here I am, caught in this conundrum.  Because Clare is in school, I have this extra time.  If she were back at home, my motivation to get up early would diminish severely.  We'd probably fall back into our late bed/late rise pattern.  But having her in school was my last resort, and it was never part of my dream for our family.  All of the things she likes about school are the social aspects:  recess, seeing her friends, lunches.  There is tuition to be paid - we're paying for her to socialize?  Why is it that the school has her for seven hours during the day, but they send her home with two hours of homework that she can't even do, because she didn't understand the teachers' explanations?  If she can sit with me and do two hours of someone else's assignments, why couldn't she have just cooperated with me in the first place??  Then there's the endless fundraising, school uniforms, gym uniforms, new shoes, yada yada yada.  And did I mention that it's no coincidence that by the end of her very. first. week.  she and several others in our family had caught cold? 

There's no neat ending to this post, just a jagged hole in our day that used to be filled with Clare, for better or for worse.  And every day at 2:32, we go to meet the bus that brings her back to us.  They miss her, I miss her, and you can see how happy they all are for her to be back.

Postscript 10/21/11

That "cold" she caught turned out to be pneumonia.  She missed the next eight days of school and lost 9 pounds, but she's fully mended now.

1 comment:

  1. Cute picture! :) Hope all is well in your corner of the world.