Sunday, February 03, 2008

School Daze.

So, I’m home-schooling now. Please read that with a tone of surprise because even though I’m the one doing it there’s still that quality of when you’re in a crowded room and someone you don’t know starts waving frantically at you and smiling, and you look at them and kind of point to yourself as if to say “I’m sorry, you mean me..?”

Part of my surprise comes from how we didn’t take her out of school for any of the normal reasons. I like her school very much; I would recommend it without hesitation. We might even put her back there next year. I didn’t pull her out because she was having academic or social problems. Daughter’s only complaint about her peer interaction was that some of her friends didn’t get her jokes which caused Consort and me to say in unison “Yeah, join the club.” In all ways that mattered, she was fine. So why take on the extra work just when I am supposed to be finishing the book?

First, there is Consort. For a general good time, Daughter prefers Consort to me, which bothers me not at all. I’ve spent time with me and I’ve spent time with Consort and he is measurably more fun than I am. But the companies renting his brain this fall and winter have all been start-ups and I don’t know why this is but all start-ups work really weird hours. More nights than not, he comes home long after she’s gone to bed; frequently after I’ve gone to bed. He’s asleep in the morning when we leave for school and gone when we return home. Weekends are meaningless. Most Saturdays, he’s gone all day. Occasionally, one of his client companies makes an offer to join the party full-time. Eventually he will accept one of these offers and his hours could get even weirder. For the foreseeable future, Consort’s home-time is going to have a certain improvisational quality. If I keep her in school, days will go by without my daughter and her father seeing each other awake. The voice in my head which points out when I’m driving on a mountain road without a guardrail reminded me that a girl who doesn’t see enough of an adored father sometimes goes out and finds a substitute. Having her see her father and really spend time with him is nearly reason enough in and of itself.

And then there’s the yelling. Over Christmas break, I noticed I felt better. Was I working out more? No. In fact, with Daughter home, I was getting to the gym less. Was it the overall relaxed spirit of the holidays? Not really, although I did sigh in relief after I found something for the cat’s stocking. So what was it that was making me feel so much more aligned with the universe? It was all the time I didn't spend communicating at the top of my lungs.

Here’s what I say during any given school day:

COME ON.

COME ON, WE’VE GOT TO GO.

WE’RE GOING TO BE LATE, COME ON.

GET IN THE CAR.

GET IN THE CAR, WE’RE GOING TO BE LATE.

COME ON, WE’RE GOING TO BE LATE, GET IN THE CAR.
EAT YOUR DINNER, IT’S LATE.

COME ON, GET IN BED, IT’S LATE. WE DON’T WANT TO BE LATE TOMORROW MORNING.


I don’t understand how I don’t have nodules on my vocal chords. Everything is about the rush to the next thing, and I’m sick of it. Take choir. She goes to choir one day a week. Afterwards, the kids play freeze-tag on the church lawn, shrieking and tumbling across the grass, squabbling and negotiating until it’s too dark to see one another. It’s the most timeless, perfectly childlike time of her week. It’s the kind of activity we look back on fondly as adults. And what would I be doing during these freeze-tag tournaments? I would be bouncing around like a caffeinated ferret measuring how long it would take us to get home, get her homework done, get her fed and cleaned up so I could get her to sleep enough so she’d be rested the next day. I’d spend the last ten minutes of tag saying in increasingly plangent tones “We have to go. Now. Go. Now.” Everything in her life had to be measured and dosed with not a minute to spare for the pure pleasure of running on grass after dark.

And that, ultimately, is why I am doing this now. I am giving my daughter time, the one thing which used to be the birthright of all children. I found an online-school which is fairly challenging, but even at its most laborious is still going to consume less time each day than conventional school. The second day she was in home-school, she finished her work and came across Consort’s book of nearly a century's worth of New Yorker cartoons. She read cartoons from the 30’s and the 40’s which led to us discussing the Depression, and Prohibition, and women working during the war. I don’t expect every activity in her newfound spare time to lead to dragging out the Encyclopedia Britannica. I do expect she’ll create, and read and dream. For those people who think “Yes, but what about socialization?”, the reality is that she has more chances to be with her friends because I’m more able to work according to their schedule; I don't have to squeeze a slot for "playing" into two enrichment-packed lives.

When Consort and I started to think about this over Christmas our greatest concern was how she would take it. Daughter was happy at school, dashing in to hug her friends in the morning and loudly complaining that I had interrupted a game when I'd pick her up after-school. I was pretty certain leaving was going to involve tears. Tentatively, I brought up the idea of home-school one night when she was eating. Her spoon stopped stirring the soup.

“Will I still play with my friends?” she asked quickly.

“Of course,” I said.

She went back to stirring. “Then, I’m fine with it. More chances to do my stuff.”

I had no idea what stuff she meant, and I didn’t care. I glanced at the clock; dinner was running late. I started to open my mouth and then realized it would only matter for another week or so, and shut my mouth and smiled.

22 Comments:

Blogger cbahm said...

I'm absolutely charmed by the investment you're making in your daughter's day-to-day life. My hat's off to you. Okay, I'm not wearing a hat; I'm just making a general hat-tipping motion. But you get the idea. :o)

Best wishes from a regular reader,
Carolyn Bahm
Collierville, Tenn.

6:17 PM  
Blogger margalit said...

I did the same thing for somewhat different reasons when my kids were in 3rd grade. I pulled my son out in October, and my daughter out in March. It was a blissful time, with so much for quality time to do things we never had time for when they were in school. Museums, libraries, bookstores, field trips...all of those things made a HUGE difference in the tenor of our family relationships. We even drove across the entire country with only ONE fight!

Good for you. I'm a big fan of homeschooling if it's not done for religious reasons to separate kids from reality.

6:36 PM  
Blogger cndymkr said...

Congratulations. You are a smart woman to notice and take action, doing what is best for your family. Pat yourself on your back.
jean

9:10 PM  
Blogger Doc's Girl said...

I think it's an excellent decision, to be honest. :)

9:10 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think this is wonderful. What an amazing parent you are; what a thoughtful, reasoned and loving choice. Every child deserves to have such care. You're great.

3:17 AM  
Anonymous bethany actually said...

I have been contemplating homeschooling for some of the same reasons you mention. My daughter is not yet 4, and we might be moving to another city soon, so I have time to decide. If I do choose to homeschool, though, one of the main reasons is going to be because I don't like doing things on someone else's schedule particularly when they didn't even consult me before they made the schedule. I wish you and your family good luck, and look forward to occasional updates.

6:28 AM  
Blogger Cheryl said...

Quinn~
You will never regret the decision to spend more time with your daughter! Congratulations! Call me if you need anything...
Cheryl

7:13 AM  
Blogger jessica said...

I think what you are doing is awesome! There are many days that I find myself yelling about getting out of the house (oh wait, like 5 days a week) just so they can get to school and I can be on time to my own 8am class (something about the instructor coming late to class doesn't look right)! I hate it... they hate it... too bad I can teach class from my house! ha!

12:41 PM  
Blogger Dawn Maria said...

I've met many home school families over the years and most of them have been very nice and normal. The ones who are honest tell you that there is a big learning curve and in getting the schedule and coursework to run smoothly. So be patient with yourself and Daughter.

I've never really felt the urge or need to home school myself. We've been reasonably happily with our public school and I usually run across EC parents who want a private or boutique charter school for their kid. I always tell them the same thing-

There's NOTHING that happens in a school that is more important than what happens in your home everyday.

And as long as regular blog posts keep coming, I think I'll be fine with this change =)

3:52 PM  
Blogger Gwenivere said...

Good luck on your homeschool journey. I can promise that you won't regret the wonderful time you'll have with your daughter.

3:55 PM  
Blogger OHN said...

I completely understand what you are saying. I am the odd mom out when the kids go back to school after summer break....I actually miss them. Most of my friends are doing the happy mom dance as the bus pulls away but I always prefer having my boys at home. I was never focused enough to home school though. If it were up to me we would have endless fieldtrips and while they are intellectually stimulating on certain levels, I figured at some point they would need algebra--I would rather have a root canal.

5:03 PM  
Anonymous Jeff said...

What a lovely thing you and Consort have done for your family.

6:30 PM  
Blogger SusannahS said...

Yay for all of you! I have a friend who taught via an online school and she said it was absolutely amazing how well the students were able to grasp concepts and relate them to "real life" (as opposed to those of us who were forced to memorize stuff w/o realizing what it really meant. I'm still waiting to understand the whole point of algebra.).
Recently I went out for drinks with a group of women and I, being the single girl, somehow ended up at a table full of Power SAHMs who rush,rush,rush their children from stuffy-private-school to activity to activity to activity...and all I could think was "When do the kids have time to be kids?"
Kudos to you.

7:36 AM  
Blogger Judy said...

What a good reason to homeschool!

My husband worked odd hours when we homeschooled. It does help the relationship to actually have time to HAVE a relationship.

And about Algebra. I homeschooled (mostly unschooled) my oldest son without ever doing any Algebra. I hate Algebra and believe it is a religion in which I have no faith. None what-so-ever. He graduated from college with a 3.8, even going to Oxford for a semester.

I haven't gone to college, yet.

Enjoy!

6:05 PM  
Blogger Sarah said...

A couple of years ago, I began downsizing my life and started working part-time rather than full-time. The decrease in pay was significant, but the benefits were huge. My health improved, and I ended up seeing my friends more often because I had the time and energy to host frequent weeknight dinners.

Time is the most valuable thing. Kudos to you for recognizing that, and acting on it!

2:12 PM  
Blogger memykidsteacher said...

Welcome. Welcome. Welcome to the world of educating for life (aka home schooling!). I've read your blog for a couple of years, and when I read this it made my day. Looking forward to hearing some homeschool related posts! You won't regret the decision ... okay, honestly, you will, but probably only for brief moments! We've been at it for three years.

YOU RULE.

dawn in OKC

4:12 PM  
Blogger Skerrib said...

That is quite possibly the best reason I've ever heard for homeschooling. Good for you!

7:12 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I just recently happened upon your Blog...I hope you don't mind me saying this, but I loved your acting...and I'm honoured that I'm able to read your Blog. Very enjoyable....one of these days I myself will venture into the world of blogging....I'm a mom to 3...two teenagers and a pre-teen, so my time is spread thin....
anyway..."Hello"...from Marion in Nova Scotia, Canada.

5:16 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dear Quinn,

I have been a teacher for the past 19 years. If you ever have a question about anything, I would be happy to help you. I hope it works out for all of you.

Best,
Todd
Los Angeles, CA
LAONJLOVER@aol.com

7:23 PM  
Blogger Karen of TX said...

You'll never regret it. I've homeschooled son since third grade, daughter up until last year, when she entered a university model private school. I'll graduate my homeschooler next year and there is nothing I would trade for these years of being with my kids. Good for you!

8:14 PM  
Blogger TulipGirl said...

Beautifully written and reasoned. . . We started out homeschooling (heck, I was homeschooled!) but due to various factors had our children in school for a year. It was the right decision for that year, but. . . I MISSED my kids. And I hated that at the end of the day they were all cranky. I felt like the school got the best of them, and then as a family we just got the leftovers. So, that was the biggest push to homeschool again. Just to enjoy one another. We have the less common h/s situation of Hubby (who is in grad school) being the primary teacher. The conversations they have. . . wow. . . Maybe one day they will be back in a classroom--and I'm sure there will be "gaps" to be filled. But now. . . this is good.

7:36 AM  
Blogger Mel said...

I think that's fantastic . . . I speak as a mom who ended up schooling-at-home two kids (out of four).

I do love being somewhat in control of our schedules and lives.

The oft-missing-in-action,
Melodee
unretouchedphoto.com

5:30 PM  

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