"A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones," (Proverbs 17:22 NIV).
Okay! It's time to share my deep dark homeschooling secrets with you! There are many! Here are my confessions!
I don't fix breakfast for my children. Yep, it's true. As soon as my children leave the high chair, they are on their own for breakfast. If they want a hot meal they have to pull a stool up to the stove and cook it themselves or bribe an older sibling. My children don't even realize that there are mothers in the world who cook breakfast!
I would rather be shot in the head than teach my teenagers to drive. There! I admitted it! My children are all great drivers, but I am a terrible passenger. By the time we have backed out of the driveway, I am ready to be committed to a psychiatric hospital. I beg and plead with my husband to teach the children to drive. They seem to like learning from him better, anyway. Go figure.
There are millions of paper piles around my house. When I get rid of one, ten more take its place. My heart is to keep my home neat and tidy. File folders in the untold millions are labeled and in file cabinets, but still these piles appear! You can tell where I am and where I've been--just follow the paper piles.
A day at the beach by any other name is a field trip. Yes, it's true. I have put away the school books, loaded up the minivan, and driven over to the Florida coast for a day in the sun. Forgetting my cares, and sometimes my name, I have fallen sound asleep while the kids play in the sand and body surf in the waves. Sometimes they look for shells or capture poor innocent sea animals. I will go home, lather on aloe, and convince my husband that we went on a field trip. "The field trip was a nature study on marine life." I can look my husband straight in the eye and say this. He begins to have doubts after the tenth nature study on marine life in one school year.
Technology is a necessary evil in the world we live in, but it is not my cup of tea. There are too many remotes in my house to understand what each one does, so I can't even turn on the DVD player by myself. I don't even like mechanical pencils. My computer can do fifty million things that I can't even comprehend, let alone make them happen. I force myself to learn one new thing each year on my computer. One year I learned that you can hit "reply to all" and respond to EVERYONE at the same time. It was a miracle and changed my life. This year I've already learned three new things--I'm way overwhelmed!
Starting a project is more fun than finishing one. Things are much more fun at the beginning of the adventure than when it is winding down. I have millions of unfinished sewing projects, novels, craft projects, and songs that I have never finished. Likewise, I enjoy the beginning of the school year more than the end. I love the fresh new start when we are eager to begin again after a long break. By February, I'm counting the days until summer.
When I was pregnant, I always fell asleep while homeschooling the other children. I would try so hard to keep my eyes open, but he minute I started reading aloud, I lulled myself right to sleep. Once the baby was born, nursing my new little one would put me to sleep too! It was so amazing when I weaned my youngest son. Two months later, I woke up one morning and, for the first time in twelve years, I had energy! It was wonderful! I don't fall asleep anymore while I homeschool. Now I fall asleep watching movies.
My children would rather play than do their schoolwork. They are not as eager to learn as all the self-motivated children in the homeschool books I've read. My children actually complain about school sometimes and I've had to discipline them for complaining. In the books I've read homeschooled children discover new stars, invent computer software, and rake lawns for all the elderly citizens in the town where they live. My children are just normal children, but I do like them!
I don't use math manipulatives--they are too much trouble. Yes, I own them, but I find that dragging them out of their special box onto the table to show my children a visual demonstration is just too much for me to handle. So, though I believe that hands-on math is the best way to learn, my children use workbooks with brightly colored pictures instead.
When we studied Hawaii in geography, we watched Gidget goes Hawaiian and the three episodes from The Brady Bunch where they travel to Hawaii with Mike on a business trip. The Bradys do visit the Arizona where two minutes of the show is spent discussing World War II and Pearl Harbor. Gidget does surf.
I use workbooks. I know some homeschooling moms hate them, but I use workbooks for grammar, spelling, and the early years of math.I also read textbooks for fun. My favorite ones are history textbooks! No really...I do.
My children have hidden their chocolate from me because once a month, I go on a rampage, looking for chocolate. The Seminole County Sheriff's Department lends me their chocolate-sniffing dogs, not to be confused with their drug-sniffing dogs, and I let these hounds loose in the house. Often hidden troves of chocolate are found. My children still don't know about these special dogs.
I have resorted to bribery. I have bribed my children to finish their schoolwork early so we can start summer vacation early. I have bribed them to finish their piano books. And I bribed the youngest three to go pee-pee on the potty. My children all have Swiss bank accounts.
I like to get on my soapbox on certain issues. When topics such as government waste, the high price of milk, FDR's presidency, or Roe vs Wade come up, my children look at each other. They know exactly what I will say and how I will say it. It will be loud. It will be opinionated.
My older children have informed me with deep concern that the younger children get away with murder. Truthfully, I haven't been as strict with the younger ones as I have been with the older ones. Back in the day, I grew fresh vegetables in the back yard, baked bread from scratch and let it rise on top of the warm dryer, and allowed no more than 30 minutes of videos a day. I must be getting old because the younger ones do watch too many movies (though I still keep television off, except for special events like the Olympics and hurricanes) and they DO get away with more. However, I do recall one of my older angels sprinkling baby powder into all our moving boxes!
Sometimes I forget to cook dinner. When that happens, it's off to McDonald's to order their $0.99 chicken sandwiches. You should hear the conversation.
Me: "Fifteen chicken sandwiches, please."
Drive-through Person: "Excuse me?"
Me: "Fifteen chicken sandwiches, please."
Drive-through Person: "I'm having trouble hearing you. Can you repeat your order, please?
Me: "Fifteen chicken sandwiches, please."
Drive-through Person: "Did you say fifteen?"
When the house gets messy, I am not gentle and quiet! I stand at the bottom of the stairs, and yell loud enough to be heard miles away, "This house is a pit. Everybody down here--now! Let's get this place cleaned up!" Even the cats come downstairs to help clean.
I have threatened to send the kids to school. Yes, I have had those days too when I wonder why on earth I am homeschooling when I could be taking tennis lessons, shopping at the mall, or getting a pedicure? During those times I wonder if the children really care that I am working so hard to give them a godly heritage and a foundation on God's Word so they can fulfill the dreams in God's heart for their lives.Then I overhear a conversation similar this one between two little girls playing with their dolls:
"Is your baby going to go to school?"
"No, I'm going to homeschool her."
"Because I love her so much."
Or my college age kids ask if they can come with me to the homeschool convention. Or my daughter explains to a boy why she will not date him, but will wait until she is older to court a man that her parents approve of. Or my son rushes to open my car door. Or my husband tells me that he is so thankful that we homeschool--"Just look at our children--aren't they wonderful?"
There are no perfect homeschool moms; only committed homeschool moms who give their best day after day for their children's sake and the glory of God. If you are not perfect, take heart and join the club. The grace of God is here! Without His grace, I would be on my way to the bad place in a hand-basket (after a quick trip to the mall), but with His grace, Heaven awaits and life here on earth is pretty good!
You can meet my family and learn more about homeschooling in my books Joyful and Successful Homeschooling, Quick & EZ Unit Study Fun, Unlocking the Mystery of Homeschooling High School, and Seven R's of Homeschooling. Learn more about these books here.
Merey (Meredith Ludwig Curtis)