Find Joy. Seek Truth. Be Kind.

Monday, October 14, 2013


I'd like to say we're zipping along like a sprinter, but that would be a bald faced lie. We are still searching for our balance.  In reality we're not even on a casual hike.  We're more like a slosh-faced drunk trying to stagger out the barroom door.

This year we've taken on a more academic approach to our homeschool.  In the past we mostly unschooled, and last year was catch as catch can.  With Bit Boy in high school/college, and Lego Kid making noises about wanting to follow in his footsteps, Hot Dog has requested academics so he can do what his brothers do. 

As I write I have Lego Kid and Hot Dog at the public library "working" on their math while Bit Boy is in town getting some testing done.  I'm sure we're annoying every patron within earshot, since apparently they are incapable of doing their work silently.  Lego Kid is doing pre-algebra, using Art of Problem Solving.  Hot Dog is working on multiplication using Beast Academy 3B.  Lego Kid's goal is to be finished with algebra by next fall so that he can join Bit Boy at CEC.  Hot Dog wants to finish with 4th grade math by next fall so that he can be a "5th grader" a year early and do the Library Pals program earlier.  (Given that he has late fall birthday, skipping him a grade isn't too crazy, he'd be only a month younger than the youngest students of that grade - a month younger, and 2 heads shorter... sigh...)

Lego Kid has really been struggling.  He chose to do a rigorous online Latin class.  It moves fairly quickly, being designed for high-achieving high schoolers.  Lego kid is only 12, but he really, really, wants to learn Latin, and wanted to take this class because he has  enjoyed working with the instructor in an earlier class.  We both know he's capable of the work, but his work ethic, speed of processing, and organizational skills are not such that this is an easy task.  He wants to do the work, but spends literally hours avoiding it, then another hour sitting in front of it in despair.  Finally, with much gnashing of teeth it will get done, but only after we're both frazzled to the bone, having accomplished nothing else all day. 

I'm realizing more and more that while my kids learn so much more, and so much easier at home, it's not in a way that translates well into a traditionally organized class like this Latin class.  If they were in school they would have already learned to sit down and do what was expected of them without complaining (much, out loud, etc.).  Being home/un-schooled they've enjoyed learning as an organic process that flows naturally  out of their own curiosity and energy.  Doing "school" is just so different from what has worked for us. 

The difference is not a good thing or a bad thing, just something I noticed.

 I'm still baffled by Lego Kid's desire to become a classical scholar, especially given how challenging it is for him.  Given that he is determined, we'll keep plugging away at it, I'm just wondering if this is really the "best" way for him.

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Adolecent angst

Lego Kid has always been a thoughtful introspective person.  At the age of 4 he was devastated by quantum mechanics.  At the age of 8 he said "Eight is the perfect age, you're still a kid, but you're big enough to do fun stuff.  I want to be eight forever".  Most recently he's been having swinging emotions and desires, wanting more peers, more time with Mom, more time alone, more structure, less structure.  Basically wanting whatever it is he doesn't have at that moment.

It's been hard on this homeschooling mom.  I can't help but question our choices, especially with regards to this bright, intense, child.

Every parent wonders at some point if they've done right by their child.  Have they made the correct educational and disciplinary choices?  Doing anything outside the norm just increases that.  If Johnny is struggling at the local neighborhood school, Mom and Dad may wonder how they can help, but they can comfort themselves that all the neighbors are at that school too, so how bad could it be?  A homeschooler has accepted total responsibility for the education and well being of their children, and is doing something completely pretty outside the mainstream, so not only do we question ourselves, we have to put up with other people questioning (and even accusing) us.

It helps me to remember that whether we homeschool or public school, the adolescent angst would happen.  Fluctuating hormones, cultural expectations, and changing roles aren't avoided by sending your kid off to school, or by homeschooling.  Luckily Lego Kid is my second child.  Bit Boy paved the way for him.  (I tell poor Bit Boy the he's my "experimental child" - I'm learning on him, and doing better with his brothers because of it.)   I've been through this before, the intense emotion, the conflicting desires, the search for something different, I can remember that all of this is to be expected.   It doesn't make it easier in the moment, but it does help with my perspective.

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Fine, thanks.

"How are you?" 

It seems like a harmless enough question. 

We ask each other that everyday.  Yet how many people really want to hear the answer?  If the person asking lives in your house, the true, heartfelt answer could be appreciated.  If the question is asked on the street or grocery store the correct answer is "Fine, thanks.  And you?"  Period. 

But what if the person asking is a friend, while you're in a public place?  And what if the friend presses for a real answer?  Do you tell her?  Those are harder questions than you might think. 

Here's the deal - if you tell someone how you really are, they may not be able to hear it.  They might try to change your mind, or at least your answer.  That feels pretty invalidating. 

So, unless you're willing and able to hear the real answer, and to accept it, without challenging the other person, don't press for more than "Fine, thanks.  And you?"  What you're really saying is "I'm glad to see you, let's exchange the socially correct greetings.", which is a lovely thing to say and do.  It's fine, really.  You don't have to press for more, especially if you can't take the answer.