Thursday, November 11, 2010

The Unvarnished Truth

When you make the decision to homeschool your children, there is one teeny-tiny little aspect of homeschooling that the other homeschoolers won't tell you. In fact, I've never heard it discussed amongst homeschooling parents. Ever. So, in an effort to aid any of you who might be considering homeschooling for your own little darlings or, better yet, to make those of you who are homeschooling realize you're not alone, I am going to share details of this never-discussed element of homeschooling here.

Are you ready?

Here goes: When you decide to homeschool, your children will see you for exactly who you are all of the time.

You won't get to run all your errands while your kids are in school and be ready and smiling with a plate of cookies and glass of milk when they walk in the door at 3:30 p.m. Your kids will be with you through it all.

Rude sales clerk? Your kids will be watching how you handle it.

Washing machine and dishwasher break in the same week? Your kids will be watching you handle it.

Procrastinating instead of cleaning the house, working in the yard, paying the bills, or prepping the curriculum? Your kids will be fully aware of what you're supposed to be doing instead of what you are doing.

So, what does this all mean? In my case, homeschooling my children has actually made me become more the person I like to think of myself as being. Why?

Well, we all know that we behave differently if someone who matters is watching, right? My kids' opinion of me matters. My children hold me accountable during those times when I might let myself slide. Since I'm teaching them to be discerning, respect and admiration have to be earned, that applies to me, too.  (Trust me, with an adult, a teen, and tween, I'm definitely answering for my actions.)

The unvarnished truth? It can be a total pain in the butt. You know those times that you want to chuck it all until later and throw yourself on the couch with a good book and some sinful snack? I can't do that unless I am willing to give them the same opportunity.

Imagine this conversation:

"Mom, what are you doing?" asks a child.

"I'm tired of housework...I'm just going to read this trashy romance novel (oops! I mean high-brow treatise on the government of Hungary prior to WWI) and eat some caramel corn." I whine in response to the question.

"Cool, I'll read a book about animals and share your caramel corn, okay?"

"No! You have important stuff to do. Fractions MATTER. You must stay focused and stay on task. Don't procrastinate just because you don't to do something. You'll be glad when you've conquered them." I respond loftily.

"Oh, so housework doesn't matter? Cool…I'll stop cleaning my room…" 

Think it couldn't happen? Oh, with my kids it definitely could. No question about it. I want the respect of my children and, yes, dare I say, their admiration. (They have mine.) The above scenario plays in my head whenever I have the urge to throw in the towel.  If I have to answer for my actions, I think it through a little more.

Still, there are those time I just want to stop for awhile.  (I know, I know, you can't relate.  Still, work with me here.)

I don't give in to the urge to throw myself on the couch without negotiating with them first:

"How about we work for another 45 minutes, then we all take a reading break?" I bribe, desperate to get some mental time-off.

"I don't have book! I finished my last one," plaintively cries a brown-eyed child. "We have to go to the library before we take a reading break! I can't NOT read."

"Okay, well, I have a bit more to do if we're going to head out. What if we work for another hour and fifteen minutes and then head to the library," I respond, already giving up the idea of NOT finishing the housework. I like the library. No, I love the library. Another half hour will have all my housework done and they'll have finished typing, spelling, and math.

Two hours later, we'll head to the library because I'll have gotten into the groove of my work (including math discussions and science discussions) and wouldn't want to stop when I was so close to being done and the kids will have finished all of their school work because they wouldn't want to stop so closely to be done. Fresh bread will be cooling on the counter (because if I had an hour and a half, I might as well make some loaves of bread). The kids will feel happy because they've finished their schoolwork for the day and I will feel happy because I crossed stuff off my list.

See what I mean? The kids made me do everything I wanted to do just by being there…and it happens like that every day! You need to be prepared for this phenomenon if you are considering homeschooling…it is a bit unnerving at first.

Oh, and the reading on the couch? It will happen in the evening after we get back from the library with a bag full of books and after we had fresh bread with our dinner. After all, I need that couch time.

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