Wednesday, September 21, 2011

The Last Homeschooler

The  last homeschooler: Two down, one to go. Twenty-five years!

Though it's the first homeschooler I'm thinking of today. Happy Birthday, Marshall!

First career

Did we know, all those years ago, that we'd still be homeschooling all these years later?

Are you kidding?

Do newlyweds ever for a single second stop unwrapping gifts long enough to contemplate that marriage lasts (hopefully) long after the scrapbooked invitation has turned that faded-newspaper yellow? When I was Marshall's age and admiring our fresh fluffy wedding shower towels in their oh-so-carefully-chosen coordinating shades of rose and periwinkle blue, it never dawned on me they'd wear into rags I'd use to wash the car and mop up after children with stomach viruses. That there would be years I'd be delighted to find a clean towel, let alone a pretty one.

Let's face it: most new parents don't think past the moment when the baby finally - - finally! - - makes his appearance.

So, no. Homeschooling was never "a plan." It just kind of happened, evolving from our very-young-and-idealistic determination that we would raise our children ourselves rather than farm them out to absorb other people's (other kids'!) habits. Starting with our stubborn refusal to take advantage of 'day care,' then morphing into "oh, I guess we're going to keep them at home for pre-school, too." Then kindergarten and etc and etc, and suddenly, there I was designing a college prep curriculum for my high schooler and hurriedly learning how to be a guidance counsellor and apply to colleges.

Until recently, I never believed we really knew what we were doing, and every year, for every child, went through the "should we really keep doing this?" worry. As we tried, every year, to figure out--again!--what would be best for each child.

Most of this was done in isolation--very few other homeschoolers near our mountain cove. Very few people, for that matter, though we do see a lot of cows, trees, deer and chickens. And much of it before most people had heard of homeschooling. Our boys got a lot of "oh, is there a school holiday today?" when we went to Kroger. Certainly before the richness of today's internet resources. Or the internet itself, for that matter. All of it managing (yes, you can!) on one income, and at times, not even that.

What I would have given during those years to have been able to talk to other mothers who were homeschooling. Who were homeschooling the way we were- - not to "protect" ourchildren from the infection of evil ideas, but to infuse them, hopefully, with fresh air and music and books and a work ethic that had them doing daily chores from the moment their little feet were stable on the ground.
Cleaning up

I take that back: none of my children ever had little feet.

 What I would have given to talk to other mothers about figuring out what to teach and when, about working through learning disabilities, about burnout and frustration and frequent (OK, I'm lying: constant) bouts of self-doubt, self-questioning, self-recrimination.
It's been a long haul. And now my youngest is almost 16, and I can see the endpoint of my teaching career, and that has made me at once more determined to finish off strongly, and more casual ("it's worked! it's working! you can stop worrying now!")

(I won't.)

But. The last homeschooler. Two more years--or not, depending on what we decide next fall. . . .

And the first: An honors graduate, who put himself through school and still maintaned his grades and a very active social life; the only person I've heard of who has had multiple job offers despite graduating into this depressed economy; definitely the only person I've ever heard of whose parents received a letter from a former boss thanking them for producing such a superb young man.

Multi-tasking already
Would I do these last 25 years again? There's a loaded question.

Knowing what you know now, would you?

1 comment:

  1. Margaret, the word "homeschooling" on your blog caught my eye. I home schooled our ADD son several years, on and off. When he only lacked a few credits in high school and struggled to finish, we found an accredited correspondence school and hired a tutor to help him complete his requirements for a diploma. It was a challenge, but the payoff was in maintaining a close relationship with him through the years.

    Nice to connect with you on blogspot, in addition to the CWG.