I really debated about posting this. I’ve went back and forth. But, my 9 year old brother is staying with us for a couple weeks while our parents are on vacation. I’m really struggling, watching him. Not that he misbehaves. He doesn’t. He’s loud, but, when you grow up with all the noise he does it isn’t any wonder. I’m trying to curb the constant yelling and interrupting. I’m afraid 2 weeks isn’t enough time though.
I’ve decided to let Monday be unit study day for my kids. Since I have LB here, I figure he needs to do school work as well. But, I wasn’t brought anything for him, nor any guidelines or instructions. So, as I worked on the unit study packets this past weekend, I made him one as well. A few weeks ago, my mom was acting irritated that LB made her look bad, that he told our grandma he couldn’t read, but he reads all the time. I thought that was an odd thing to lie about, but ok. Now that I’m doing homework with him, I see, he really can’t read. And, he just doesn’t understand anything we are doing. My youngest boy is old enough for 3rd grade. But, because of when his birthday falls, I started him late. He’s in 2nd. He’s 8 and a half. My brother is a year older. And, also in 2nd grade. And, struggling with basic addition, or ANY reading. Today, as my boys worked through the worksheets, LB said “I’m really getting behind in school now.” I said, “No you aren’t. I’m working with you.” And he said “Yeah, but I don’t do school at home.” I asked how he felt about that, and he said angry, why is he “stupider” than my youngest? I said “Well, why don’t you do school?” he said “Mom is gone all the time, so, 17 yr old babysits. We just watch tv or watch them play video games.”
If I bring this up, my mother will 1. tell me he’s lying. 2. tell me she has never stopped him from getting out his school books and doing work. and 3. she will decide the problem is the video games, and get rid of the system my brother bought with his own money.
My parents cannot admit their homeschool experiment was a failure, because, I wasn’t a failure. I’m a “success” story. And, that is the story I want to share. How I became the poster child for doing things right, their way. It’s long, so I will divide it up. The story is actually going to be published anonymously elsewhere. I submitted it, and they said it would definitely be published. There was some things that are fairly identifying, however, when I read through the other submissions, so many things weren’t identifying. The huge number of siblings. The messy house. The emotional and physical abuse. The ideal front, and the church attendance, that hid everything else. Sadly, my story can easily be told while remaining anonymous, because there are so many Punkies out there. I apologize for any repeated information. I am copying and pasting from my submission to the other place.
Part 1: Elementary School
I am a homeschooling “success” story.
A fact that is rolled out by my parents, constantly. They have 10 children, and, if you dare question them about anything, including the fact their 6 year old acts more like a 3 year old, or that their 18 year old son can’t read, they will quickly point out Punkie and how successful she is.
As I read stories and as the online community has grown, I realize there are other people out here just like me. People who had parents who kept them isolated, who didn’t let anyone around, who weren’t actually taught anything. In some ways I think my abuse wasn’t so bad. I mean, I didn’t have to wear dresses all the time. While my parents loved the Pearl’s method of raising children, it required too much work to keep up with. And, the abuse wasn’t usually physical, much. So, I have nothing to complain about. Then again, I read stories and am jealous of kids who were allowed to go to church activities and be on debate teams, and even go to conventions. My husband, Brad, has some of the same thoughts. His abuse was mainly mental, spiritual, and emotional abuse. Mine was the same, but with some physical thrown in as well.
I went to public school from K-3rd grade. In 4th, I was homeschooled. I was given dozens of different reasons why I was homeschooled, always seeming to change with whatever hyped news story was being broadcast. I was handed a stack of books and told to do the work in them. Since I could read, my mother claimed she did not need to teach me, just read the directions. That never changed. The sibling just younger than me has severe learning disabilities, even now, in our twenties, she has the mentality of a 6 year old. She didn’t get schooling. Our parents decided she could not learn, and didn’t even try. While we grew up, I’m the one who taught her to write her name, and how to make letters. I taught her to ride a 2-wheeled bike, how to pet a dog (she was terrified of animals), how to tie her shoes. When she was 16, I taught her how to swim. I’d been working on helping her over her fear of water for years, and one summer, she was swimming with me. Not often, and she didn’t like it much, but she did it. One day my father decided she needed to swim, he wanted to see how she did. She started to cry and fight him. She screamed, I tried to stop them. He picked her up and threw her in anyway, because she was disobedient. She panicked and needed saved, I had to calm her while pulling her back to the boat, in the middle of the lake. She’s never swum again. I taught other siblings how to read, and long division. My mother rarely ever cooked, she only knows how to microwave junk food. She says she doesn’t know how to cook, but, somehow, I learned how to make real meals.
I hated being homeschooled. I hated being taken from my friends, I hated being home all day. I hated not being “taught”. I hated that I lost my reprive from my mother’s screaming, and my dad’s constant yelling and temper tantrums, often that ended with the sound of the belt being pulled from his pants, to hit us with. My mother would scream at us, calling us names, expecting me to parents the others, and if I wasn’t a very good 10 year old mother, then it was made clear that I was worthless. She was always pregnant, always tired, always napping. When she wasn’t sleeping until noon, she was sitting on the sofa, watching t.v., demanding we clean something. Or mad at us for watching t.v. too much. Wanting to know why we were hungry, why hadn’t we microwaved a plate of Pizza Rolls if we were hungry? But, don’t forget, you can’t eat too many, because then she and dad wanted to know why we were such pigs and wasted all their money.
Dad would come home from work, furious that there were dishes left undone, and I should have done them. It didn’t matter that it wasn’t my turn, or we’d been busy. The only thing that mattered was they needed done. He would fight with mom because she was lazy and he worked so hard. Mom would get offended and tell him it was our fault. The fight would ramp up, the screaming getting louder. And, eventually, she would decide she didn’t have to put up with it, and she’d walk out. Leaving us with him. He’d continue the yelling for hours, getting so in our faces, sometimes we’d get spit on us, it was disrespectful to not stand there and take it. He would punch holes in walls, he threw a toy tractor through a glass door, he hit my sister with the vacuum cord because she didn’t wind it right. He’d call us pigs and worthless. He’d throw cups full of milk. I remember one time very clearly crying, and he got in my face, demanding I explain why I was crying. I told him I was scared, and he said “Good, the Bible says you should fear God.” That was the moment I lost any bit of respect I had for him. My tears were often ridiculed and punished. I tried to protect “my” kids the best I could. Often mouthing off so the ire was turned towards me, while the others ran away. 20 minutes after the screaming stopped, he’d call us back. He’d apologize, but the apology was always blaming us. He was sorry he couldn’t control his temper, we had just pushed him too far. Then, he would say “Will you forgive me?” but, it wasn’t a question, it was a demand. The only allowable response was “Yes, Sir.” Then we had to give him a hug.
to be continued…