15 June 2009

Conflicting Experiences

The kids are at VBS at a very close-by church. This means a few things. First, they are out and about without me, independently acting and interacting with new people. Good thing. Second, they are swept up in a group activity like screaming "Fear NOT!" in a big auditorium. Another good thing. Third, they are doing crafts and hearing lessons from 'not me.' An excellent thing for all of us. Honestly, sometimes I think they can't hear me because I am all they hear. Does that make any sense? Fourth, they are hearing the gospel and scripture and great messages that I would agree with-- but coming from someone else's mouth. This has great power over kids. It is important that they get outside reinforcement of the things we are trying to instill in them. Last of all, with VBS being so close by, I can be quickly home again after dropping them off, and not have to leave to pick them up again until the last second. This is totally rad because I get a quiet house to myself. Yes, the baby is here, but he's getting up early so he's taking his nap early, so I actually am alone for a bit. How powerful a little solitude can be! Just the taste of it that I enjoyed this morning made me think... this is how it is for moms whose kids go off to school each day. No wonder they make such a fuss when school is let out for the summer... no wonder they make such a fuss when they all go back to school in the fall!

Lest I get too excited about my time alone, let me tell you about a conflicting thing which happened on Saturday. Jackson went to a friend's dress-up birthday party with Claire. It was for a little girl they knew; the invitation said "Prince and Princesses" or something that made it sound like boys were welcome-- for pete's sake, his name was specifically on the Evite. A day or so before the party, the mom, who is a good friend of mine, emailed me to say that Jackson was going to be the only boy, would he mind? I let her know that he has to hang out with mostly girls all week anyway, and that he's used to it, but that he mainly wanted to dress up and party. She said cool. (He looked very cute, with his dress pants, dress shoes, a white t-shirt, a Captain Hook coat, and a belt with a sword and sheath on it. Plus he wet-combed his hair. Very king-like.)

But when I went to pick him up (Claire was staying for a sleepover) Claire rushed out blathering something about 'they all made fun of Jackson and I told them to stop but they wouldn't' and the mom, and the Official Fairy Lady (helping the party be fun) both hurried to say that they talked with Jackson and worked it all out. I asked Jackson what was up and he said he didn't have any fun and wanted to go home. He was a dejected little king. I was confused, and walked him to the car and went back with Claire's overnight stuff. I asked the Fairy Lady and my friend and they both said that the girls gave him a hard time the whole party!

Back to the van with Jackson, I asked him if Claire helped him, and was on his team, and he said yes. He said the girls wouldn't let him be king, only a prince (was that mandated in the invite?). He was not pleased. Later I talked with another friend who attended, and her explanation was that the girls all go to school together and have the idea of "ew, boys" etc. That he's usually fine around the girls here (our neighbors) but not those girls because he was new and the only boy. I understood all this but I was confused mostly why, with multiple moms in attendance, and the Fairy Lady in addition, why it could persist for the entire party. This little girl goes to a Christian academy, which I know is no assurance of virtue, but... I guess I was surprised for some reason.

Jackson, of course, seems to have forgotten the whole thing.

But it makes me think about our choice to homeschool. It sure is a sacrifice-- for the mom, who usually bears the burden of the day-to-day education and child-rearing, and also sacrifices personal time alone; but also for the dad, who usually bears the entire responsibility of financial provision himself. These conflicts out in the world are useful to start discussions and prepare the kids for interaction with people who have a different outlook than we do. They cause us to reassess our choice- and it is a daily, monthly choice to homeschool. It gives me great joy that my kids are living in a world of mainly safe and encouraging interactions, that they have been spared the great majority of the miseries that schoolchildren are enduring every day.

How were your elementary and middle school years? Did your experiences then affect your decision to home educate your kids?

1 comment:

  1. Christine HollingsworthJanuary 13, 2012 at 10:32 PM

    Oh, darlin. Poor Jackson. You're right, of course. That behavior can be understood to some extent, but should never have persisted the whole party. That is something that I appreciate in the homeschool culture, too. Our kids have lots of interactions, but not usually too far from a parent's hearing and always within range of correction :-) Homeschool moms are, for the most part, ready to help kids work out differences in a God-honoring way - Because We Are THERE - or at least not let them go to the lowest-common-denominator, Lord of the Flies scenario. Five Moms hanging out with 8 kids is always a win over one adult to 20 kids.

    I have lots of memories of kid-inflicted misery that shaped who I am and yes, influenced my decision to home school. I am glad to offer myself to my kids as a protector, mediator and instructor. Not in an effort for them to not experience hardships, but for them not to experience them alone and without sympathy and love.