It is one of those times when I am doubting myself again. First about homeschooling, second about unschooling, third about being a good mom (single mom at that). Funny how it all ties in together.
Back in the days when my daughters went to public school, I did not have time to think too much about issues of education, socialization and being a good mom. I had other, more pressing issues to worry over. The “dealing with public school issues” like cool enough clothing, homework, proper rest, teacher management, transportation, fundraising, battling the latest ‘bug’ circling the classrooms, etc.
I guess I felt like a good mom then. I don’t really remember. All I remember was feeling too exhausted from just surviving to feel anything else. Once we started homeschooling, I quickly moved from those issues, to these issues: are we covering all the right subjects (and at the right depth), are we getting out enough and meeting enough people, balance between participation and OVER participation, and of course, being a good mother (where does the teacher end and the mother start . . . or visa versa).
But, I am guiding my third daughter through this process! I am not a novice. I have seen the positive effects and outcomes of relaxing and enjoying the experience; taking pleasure in the journey not just focusing on the destination. So what is going on now? What is my problem?
Well, our days are not going as I envisioned that they should be going lately. We moved to a new neighborhood; one where there would be more kids to hang out with (in theory), also an area with a higher density of homeschoolers. I mistakenly predicted that we would be so overwhelmed with kids and play opportunities we would not have enough time to fit everyone into our future busy schedule.
Yet here we are, seven months later, and, I am wondering when we will find other kids to hang out with. We have run into the same old problems: we are either too strict or too lenient, too busy or too clingy, too laid back or too energetic – depending on who we meet. I expected this somewhat from homeschoolers, because by the very nature of homeschoolers – parents are involved with their kids. This is good and bad. The draw-back quickly becomes that because parents are so involved with their kids, getting the kids together means that the parents need to get along – and not just get along – but like each other. And, be willing to fit fun time into very busy homeschooling schedules (I have concluded that homeschooled kids are scheduled way more than public school kids are, at least by their parents) with some amount of urgency.
As for the parent liking parent issue, this can be a challenge, because, after all – how many times can you talk only about the weather? Sooner or later, you end up talking about the dangerous stuff. Politics, religion, perspectives, philosophy and so on; and you may not even realize that you are doing it. Sometimes just an innocent comment about a television show or movie is translated into conclusions about a variety of subjects. The next thing you know, you and your child(ren) have been shunned as undesirable. <sigh>
When I was a kid (and when my kids went to public school), the parents of the friends rarely mingled. Oh, there were phone calls to make sure an invitation had really been made, or that a responsible parent would be chaperoning, but beyond that, there was not much interaction. Decisions on whether a friendship continued was determined by how well the two kids got along and behaved in the presence of the respective parents.
Other than that, we were left to our own resources to make (or break) friendships. And our parents certainly did not worry over if we had friends or not. There were comments made over those having too much (or too little) focus on social opportunities. But worry? I don’t think so. After all – what else could a parent do? A kid was at school all day, exposed to 100 kids or more. If they could not make friends in those surroundings, what could a parent do?
So here I am at the end of another weekend during which, once again, I served as the only source of live entertainment and interaction for my 11 year old. I am sitting in front of my computer, wrestling with my doubting thoughts about what the heck I am doing. Should I worry over the friendship thing? Does a kid need just the opportunities (is that good enough) and then roll with the outcome? Or does a parent keep searching for more opportunities? Can a child be happy with moderate interaction with other kids and the rest of the time hanging out with mom or dad?
Suddenly – I am interrupted from my fretting.
In comes my daughter.
Her: “What are you doing?”
Me: “I need to write an article for our homeschooling blog – but I don’t know what I will write about – because I am thinking of other things.” <I grimace for effect. Procrastination is a common demon we battle in our household.>
On a whim, and out of my desperation to at least put one problem to rest, I ask: “So, do you get bored with just being around me most the time?”
No hesitation. She replies: “No.”
Me: <stunned silence>
[I study her expression. There is no fidgeting, no hint of a lie or exaggeration. She is totally serious.]
Me: “But why?”
Her: “Because you are interesting. I like being with you. I can come in and be with you when ever I want. I can ask you questions when ever I want. I have things to do. I can play with the cats. I can just spend time with you.” <She smiles.>
How simple; and then I remember. What we do every day is build our relationships one moment at a time. It _is_ all about being there for each other day in and day out. Learning about running a house, running a business, creating whatever strikes your fancy, being responsible, caring, loving. We don’t _need_ outside entertainment. It is nice to have – but necessary? No.
And then I knew what I had to write my article about. <smile>
Linda is a multi-tasking (translation: crazy) mom of three, homeschooling since 1992, world traveler, dreamer, writer (baker, chef and bottlewasher).