This blog is part of Educating My Boy: Chronicles of a Free-Schooler
The first couple of months of home schooling are definitely sweet. It’s the honeymoon stage and decompression feels like a million bucks.
In our case, the first relief was from daily torment. For the first time after years, Jack did not have to face his tormentors every day. He was not constantly on the defensive or being punished for his attempts to get even. He was calmer and more relaxed. He also enjoyed the fact that his unhappiness was finally being acknowledged – and he even felt a little vindicated. The day he came with me to meet with the school district’s family liaison officer he especially felt validated.
Occasionally, however, I noticed a look of confusion on his face. He wasn’t quite sure what was happening. I got a sense that the acknowledgement and validation he was receiving actually made him a little worried, as if this was also somehow going to have negative consequences for him. I also got a sense that he felt a little guilty too. After all, he had behaved “badly” too. Even though everyone was reassuring him that his “bad” behavior was a reaction to being bullied there was a part of him that kept feeling guilty no matter what we said to him. Kids have an enormous capacity for guilt. It’s really sad.
Still… relief prevailed. Jack felt free and special to be home schooled. And as we met other homeschoolers in our area he started to get a sense of the new friendships and new activities that were in store for him.
The second relief we felt was freedom from the tyranny of the clock. Nobody was rushing Jack out the door in the morning. He did not have to stop in the middle of doing something interesting because time was up. He stayed up later at night and read in bed at leisure. There were no school curfews – and no tense parents trying to impose curfews!
I have to say I really enjoyed the freedom from the tyranny of the clock too. I could stay in bed longer in the morning – no more getting up early to make it to school for the 7:50 a.m. school assembly. Not being rushed in the morning really improves my mood! Also, I too could stay up as late as I wanted. I am very happy to be able to stay up late and enjoy the quiet. Sometimes I am very productive late at night – and as it has turned out, losing a lot of working time during the day (I work at home) I actually need those quiet productive hours at night.
We also enjoyed the freedom to do what we wanted during the day. The first couple of months we went out to breakfast and lunch a lot. We walked around a lot. We lazed an awful lot. We allowed ourselves all kinds of luxuries we had no time for during school.
Third, something I particularly enjoyed, was the relief from trying so hard. I had not noticed how hard I was constantly trying the past years. I was trying singlehandedly to improve things on all fronts: helping Jack, supporting the teachers in whatever decent effort they were making, defending Jack against bullies, and trying desperately to create good friendships for him. And through it all I was active PTA member: organizing this, coordinating that, volunteering in the classroom, making contributions left and right, attending meetings, etc.
What for…?! I really am not being vain saying this but I believe that while I did a good deal to improve school life for a lot of people I received very little in return. In fact, looking back I wonder if all the work I put in was seen in the wrong light. I wonder if my generosity was really seen as some kind of overcompensation for having a problematic kid, a “bad boy.” But no matter, enough of that, whatever it was…
And now we interrupt our program to bring you this:
As I am writing this I am hearing my son practicing with his music teacher in the living room. They are working on California Dreamin', singing and playing the guitar. This is one of my most favorite songs. Now I hear them moving to the piano, learning the chords…
This makes life worth living. Even when the honeymoon is over.
And yes folks, as you probably know already, honeymoons are not permanent things!