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Archive for the ‘homeschool’ Category

A Success Story, Part 1

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…

 

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We Were Raised This Way

I recently read another blog post, We were Told to Do the Hard Things. Well, We Are.

I agree with much of the post, but what really resonated with me was this;

You know those concerns about advanced technology escaping our control and taking on a life of its own? In some sense, that is what is going on here. The leaders of the Christian homeschool movement set out to create an entire generation of culture changers. Well, they succeeded, but it’s our turn now. And they’re going to have to live with it.

Brad and I were the in the first big wave of home schooling. Maybe it wasn’t completely unheard of, but it was definitely weird. Mainly used by religious zealots. We probably fit into that category. Or, our parents did anyway.

We were told we were being home schooled to keep us from bad influences, because we’d give into peer pressure, because they didn’t want what they taught us to be undermined by anyone else. We needed to be kept from others until we were strong enough to fight for what we believed. We were supposed to stand up proud and defend our beliefs.

Somehow though, they never expected our beliefs to be different from theirs. We were supposed to grow up up and parrot back the things we’d been told for 18 yrs.

And, many of “us” did exactly that. But, some of us didn’t.

A lot of those kids are my age now. A lot of us are in our late twenties, early thirties, and have a lot to say. We’re a decade or more out now, we’ve learned to speak our minds, and make up our own minds. We’ve seen where our education was lacking, and where our up bringing bordered on abusive, and we finally realize it. Some of us tried to get help back then, but weren’t taken seriously, and realize we have a lot more power now.

Now, we are speaking our minds, we are standing up for what we believe. It is us standing up and asking for stricter regulations, more checks in place. We’re talking about all of this.

And, often, the parents have become the school bullies. The ones trying to shut us up, trying to discredit us. There are many of them fighting back saying that we have exaggerated our stories for sympathy and attention. That we have ulterior motives. I’ve even seen us compared to demons, being used by Satan, attacking good Christian families. These loving parents have destroyed their relationships older siblings have with younger ones… because they won’t allow the older sibling to say “this is wrong”.

They wanted us to be strong, to stand up for what we believed.

Now we are, but, we didn’t follow the script, so, they believe that by becoming everything we were taught to be, that we have become the enemy. We are supposed to shut up otherwise we lose our siblings, our parents. We are supposed to shut up because anecdotes do not equal data, we are supposed to shut up otherwise we will have more government in our lives and our children will be taken away. We are supposed to keep the secrets, because not EVERY family was like that.

That one always amuses me, in a sad sort of way.

“Don’t tell anyone about abuse, because there are so many families doing it right. And, don’t tell anyone about your upbringing, because it wasn’t that bad, there are so many families that abused their kids worse.”

Yes, we can’t tell, we can’t beg for more regulation, because there are many families who do teach their kids to read, and they shouldn’t be punished for the actions of the very few. But, we are also told that the isolation wasn’t that bad, because some people lock their kids in cages. The bruises weren’t that bad, because some people break bones. It wasn’t real abuse, because other people had it worse. (And then you have the nerve to question why i didn’t have my ex-husband arrested the first time he tried to run me over…because he didn’t succeed. Because he didn’t break any of my bones. Because he never punched me. So many women had it worse, you know. That’s why I didn’t tell.) You can’t have it both ways, you can’t say we don’t need more regulation because all the parents are good people, while saying your poor parenting didn’t need examined because SO MANY people were worse.

I am thinking about doing a series about home schooling and change, this will be the first part. I have a lot to say, but, I don’t want to make today’s post a novel.

Feeling Let Down

I struggle to write what is on my mind, because I feel like it makes me sound so…stuck up? Full of myself? I’m not sure, I’m just fairly sure I don’t come across as I would like to, as I mean to.

You know the Bible verse, the one about leaving your parents and cleaving to your spouse?  We are still in the newlywed category, and to be honest, I didn’t expect either family to make it quite so easy. Neither one of us has a huge amount of friends, but, we both have huge families. And, I think we are both feeling sad and dissapointed lately.

 

Yeah, exactly how I’m feeling.

I won’t tell Aussie’s story, because it isn’t mine to tell. But, I will tell some of mine. I started algebra this semester. I’ve taken this class 4 or 5 times. I fail every time. I’ve taken the remedial math, I’ve done all the homework, and then some. I’ve been to tutoring, I’ve asked for help, I’ve spoken to the teachers. I just don’t get it. So, I try again.

And, this class is now bringing up HUGE feelings of disappointment and resentment towards my family. My parents especially.

I was homeschooled. I never got much of a reason why. Actually, let me rephrase, I had a continuously changing reason why, that ebbed and flowed with the passing trends that made public schools “bad”. When I could counter their arguments, I was told that was never the reason, they never said that, and the real reason was XYZ. What are some of these reasons?

  • I was too smart for public school.
  • I was bored.
  • I might be around bad influences.
  • Prayer has been taken out of schools.
  • God has been taken out of schools.
  • They teach evolution!
  • I was unhappy there, apparently.
  • My sister hated going to school, so obviously it was bad.
  • School shootings!!!
  • God told them to take me out of school.
  • Public schools were/are sinful and God commands us not to sin just because it is popular.

I am sure there are a lot more, but, you get the idea. Homeschooling to my mom meant she slept in until 11, talked to her friend on the phone for a couple hours a day, handed me a stack of books and told me I was responsible for independent study. I have a 17 yr old brother who is practically illiterate, and a sister I think may have dyslexia. But, nobody must know, you can’t get help, because then people MIGHT think you aren’t doing things right and put the kids in school!

I ran away when I was 12ish. I told them my dad was abusive, and my parents were not home schooling us. They were handing over books, and only noticing when pages were completely blank. Nothing ever got checked. I told them about my siblings. I told the police, I told CPS, I told the judge, I told family. I was terrified, and a child. My parents would call me, screaming “You’re a fucking liar!” Nobody ever asked to see the books, nobody ever checked in on anything. My grandma had to put me in therapy to get me past the “family therapy” my parents put me in. Which consisted of all 3 adults calling me a liar, and trying to get to the root cause of why I was a liar. Except I wasn’t.

3 months later the judge sent me home. Did I mention, the judge was friends with my parents? Yeah, stupid preteen me didn’t know enough to point out how wrong this was. We started going to his church a few months later.

So, I went home. Nothing changed on the school front, but, my dad got less abusive, especially to everyone else, so, I counted at least that part as well worth all the trouble. And, I decided I was getting out of there. I did my homework, I struggled through math. When I asked for help, my parents told me they didn’t understand. When I asked for them to get me help, we couldn’t afford it. When their friends offered to help, my parents complained about how far it was to drive, and how if I was struggling so bad, maybe I could just skip the ONE youth group activity I was allowed a month so I could study more. So, when 14 yr old me was offered this choice, obviously, I choice to skip tutoring. Which, obviously meant, I understood the work, I just wasn’t willing to do it. My junior year of high school, I took the answer book. My mom never noticed. It wasn’t to cheat, it was to check my work, then to rework it until I understood it. I spent hours working on this. Nobody ever knew.

I graduated a yr early, and got a full ride scholarship to the big state school. It was the worst thing I ever did. Because, my parents have spent the last 10 yrs saying that obviously they do an amazing job at homeschooling, and obviously it is superior to all other schooling, because, well, look at Punkie.

Oddly, they never mention Punkie flunked out her first semester. Got ALL Fs.

They never mention Punkie has failed algebra 5 times now. And, has no idea what is going on, no idea how to understand. The ass backwards ways I taught myself in high school are screwing me over now.

You know, I’ve spent the last 15 yrs trying to take responsibility for my failures, trying to own my own shit, trying to not blame others. I’m tired of it. I’m tired of taking responsibility for problems that I didn’t cause.

I cringe whenever I see one of my siblings facebook posts. My one sister is trying to start a photography business, and has a page for it. Nothing is spelled right. My other sister works at Salvation Army because the pay is amazing. My little brother had to take the ASVAB test 4 times before he BARELY got a high enough score to get into ANY military branch. My other brother, the 17 yr old, reads the helicopter books I bought for my 8 yr old when he thinks nobody is looking. But, never any other book.

I have another younger brother, he’s a teenager, and yesterday I told my mom, over the weekend I did about 250 math problems. I was assigned 60, but I am really trying to pass. My mom said “I guess we know who can help with math now!” then she tells me about my brother, how he’s so good at math. He never follows the instructions, but gets the right answer. Just like me. I told  her, that is really, really causing problems for me now. I explained why. She laughed and said “Well, I just have to get him through high school, college can teach him what he really needs to know.”

I could have about cried.

I’ve offered to teach the kids. If you look at my kids school work…I spend HOURS every week, preparing for the next week. I spend hours teaching them, going over things over and over again. I actually grade all the work. I have a lesson plan. I have a base curriculum and add to it, to make my own, making some things more difficult. Adding pages where I know they struggle. I’ve offered…my mom doesn’t want to spend the gas money. Her and dad can go out to eat a few times a week, but, can’t spend $4 a day to bring the kids over for help.

I’m so angry that I am paying for their choices now. I’m so angry that nobody listened to me when I tried to get help. I’m so angry that it is too late for my siblings. I’m angry that my family is almost PROUD of being ignorant. Of the fact they don’t need no college. I’m angry my brothers don’t even realize how much they don’t know. I’m angry they have been unknowingly sentenced to a lifetime of factory work or retail, without their consent. I’m angry that I struggle so much with some of these subjects, but, I certainly can’t complain, because then I hear about how if I was really concerned I would have studied and not signed the boys up for sports, so I would have more time. And, I’m angry all the times I do well, I am held up as the poster child for all the great things about homeschooling. My parents had nothing to do with any of the things I am good at. I taught myself! I had to!

You know what? I’m not that freaking special or smart or successful. Actually, I take it back, I am smart. I decided to do better, and I did. But, I somehow saw there was more to life than what my parents taught us. I’m the only one who did. I’m not special, I’m not successful. I look like it. I look like a spoiled brat most the time. I’ve got a great relationship, and two kids that are somehow amazing, in spite of all they have been through. And, I can’t even talk about my life, because I sound so stuck up. I just got back from a trip to Montana, right after the trip to Florida, and I leave for a cruise in about 6 weeks. I’ve got a Tiffany box sitting on my coffee table, and a pile of clothes with the tags still on them. I went out for coffee almost every day this summer. And, I’m not saying this to brag, I’m not. I’m using to to show, how “look at Punkie!” has become a source of pride for my parents. They miss that they coerced me into marrying an abusive asshole the first time. They don’t seem to get it… all this great stuff? It has NOTHING to do with me, nothing. It is a result of Aussie’s success. HIS parents can use it as an argument for homeschooling. Mine can not. Because, it has NOTHING to do with me, and FAR less to do with them and their teaching skills. And to be honest, a huge majority of my spoiled persona has cost us practically nothing. Airlines give lots of free perks, as do hotel chains, and rental car companies. When the company pays for the Starbucks, and you can give your wife the card, she gets the free syrups and refills and extra perks. So, again, I’d like to say, don’t judge me too harshly on this one, because if the company Aussie worked for didn’t allow him to keep the perks, and instead made him use frequent flier miles to get to work, or that sort of thing, we would look exactly like every other young couple with a couple kids.

I do’t even know what the point of writing this was. I just needed to get it all out. I am so angry and so resentful right now. I feel like I’m outgrowing my family and it’s a lonely feeling.

Not Everyone Fits Into Your Mold

Looks about right to me.

I was at the library today doing my usual walk through.

Step 1. Return the books I could have sworn I returned last week.

Step 2. Browse the mystery “fluff”. You know, the cheap soft cover books you buy at garage sales for $0.50.

Step 3. Stumble upon the true crime section. Decide which serial killer you want to read about this week, because no week is complete without at least one night where you get up 7 times to make sure you locked the doors.

Step 4. Remember that the library is actually a good place to learn things, and might help with this whole homeschooling thing. Find the education section.

Step 5. Remember why you avoid this section.

I wanted a book, something like “What Your 1st Grader Needs to Know”. I am trying to get a plan in place for this school year, something that will tell me “if your kid doesn’t know how to read Dr Seuss by the end of the year, you’re doing something wrong.”

I do not need “Why Public School Damages Your Child.” I don’t need “The Biblical School Year”. I don’t want “Teaching Your Kids God’s Way.” I don’t care about “Good Answered to Common Arguments!” I also don’t need any of the 75 variations of “School Your Child For FREE!”

I don’t care to read the first 3 chapters about how you met your husband and married him the day you turned 18 so you could become a baby factory, as is “God’s plan” for your life. I don’t care about the next 2 chapters where the author makes sure to remind us, over and over, to utilize our husband’s brilliance and have him help, or even send the kids to work with him for the day, for “real world experience” I don’t care to be warned about the dangers lurking on the internet for both our immature child and our easily led into temptation husbands.  I am not concerned with a book written in  comic sans being my reminder I should go to church whenever the doors are unlocked, and I also am not worried about the fact my sons have “girl” chores, like unloading the dishwasher.

I am bothered by the assumption that EVERY. SINGLE. PERSON who chooses to home school their children is obviously a married, broke, stay at home mother, whose husband has a 9-5 job and is a conservative Christian.

We’re starting our 4th year of this. I have been a single mom for all of it so far, though, that does change this year. I’ve been a working mom for a lot of it as well. I’ve been a full time student through at least half of it. I didn’t have all day everyday to devote to making sure they recited prayers correctly. Now, I’m married. My husband is brilliant. And, he doesn’t really get a chance to help me, because he’s never home. I suppose I could send the kids to work with him, but, that involves 3 plan tickets, a week away, and not even getting to see most of it, due to privacy laws.

I don’t wish to argue with people about how they should/should not teach their kids. I don’t care to hear about the “evil” public school system, because, I already made my decision, I don’t need further convincing. I hate the condescending tone of most “answers to arguments” books. No, I don’t think I am going to help make people understand when my response to “What about socialization?” is “I know, why don’t you let your kids be around more people of varying ages? Obviously, your kids are anti-social.” I want to know what the state requires of me, and what they expect of the kids. I want to know what skills will help advance them in life, I honestly do not care about doing this “God’s way”, mainly because I think most people who make that claim know as much, if not less than I do. Unless they have a divine telephone and God’s direct extension number, they don’t know!

As far as doing it for free, don’t get me wrong, I like a good deal as much as the next person. But, if all I was concerned about was the cost of my kid’s education, I would send them to public school, that my tax dollars have already paid for. And guess what? “Wait for back to school sales!” is not exactly ground breaking new information.

And for all the “my husband is head of the house” writing, there is a lot of things that imply your husband is just another kid, but this one brings home a paycheck. No, I have more respect for my husband than that. I don’t need to ban everyone in the house from the internet because the call of the XXX is too strong for his man brain to resist. He knows how I feel about this sort of thing, I trust him to respect my feelings, and so far, he has.  I go to church because I enjoy it, I take the kids. I don’t think it is necessary to have reading practice for my 3rd grader be Proverbs, when I am trying to instill a love of reading in him, and his attention is held much better by the “All About Ferrari” book. We have managed to have some lovely child led philosophical and theological discussions, that I don’t think could have been planned into our day.

Maybe I should write a book. A book for non-super religious, slightly off traditional families who home school. One that is for tips, info and resources, but doesn’t assume that I am a conservative Christian, that doesn’t assume I hate public schools, that doesn’t assume I want to change anyone’s mind. Maybe one that doesn’t assume everyone is married with a minimum of 3.5 kids and a husband who is only slightly more intelligent than the average idiot, but, who you obey because God says so.  But, days like today, I feel there is a market of one for that book, and why would I need to buy it if I wrote it?

Aside

Digging for facts is better exercise than jumping to conclusions

I hate when that happens!

Recently, my neighbor invited me over for a drink. As we talked, she asked if I still homeschooled the kids. I said I did. She started telling me how much they would like the local school, how her kids went there and they turned out fine, how they needed to learn to socialize, how I should send them to school so I could get a job and pull my own weight around here. (That last comment is going to be a future blog post)

I told her that the kids did practically nothing but socialize, they don’t know any strangers. Plus, they love being homeschooled, I don’t know that they would go if I tried. She then said “You are the mother, they don’t get to make the decisions, tell them they have to go so you can go get a job.”

Then, of course, she thows in the obligatory remark about how she knows this one homeschooling family, and they don’t really teach the kids, it’s just an excuse to be lazy, and their kids are extremely awkward. That most the people who homeschool are religious nuts who only do it so their kids aren’t exposed to anyone or anything that isn’t “right”.

On that last part, I know she has a point, that is the majority of people who chose to homeschool. In fact, that is why I was homeschooled. I do not think my siblings should be, I’m sorry. They are handed a couple text books at the  beginning of the year, and told to work in them until they are done. I don’t agree with that at all.

It aggravates me that there is such a stigma about it. It is to the point that the boyfriend and I rarely ever admit we were homeschooled, because we don’t want to be automatically grouped in with these people. So, unless it is somehow relevant to the conversation, you won’t hear us admit it. And, as far as the stereotypes go, I definitely consider him successful. I may not be doing anything to impress anybody, but, I’m able to stay home with the kids, which wasn’t my dream job, but it was what I wanted when we had them.

I know people, my mother for one, who will almost attack anyone for sending their kids to public school. She will tell them how horrible it is, and how she loves her kids too much to do that to them. And, I definitely think a lot of the criticism of homeschooling applies to her. But, for the most part, I am not going to say anything about how or where your kids go to school, so, why attack me over it?

The thing that gets me the most, is, the people most likely to jump all over my case about this are the least likely to care about actually looking into it. I was reading a study recently that showed that the average grades on standadized tests for public scholled students was 57%, I believe. The average for homeschooled and private schooled children was 87%.

Another thing addressed in the study that I found interesting was that homeschooling seemed to help eliminate some of the negative effects of certain socio-economic factors. That if the parents were poor and uneducated, their kids actually did BETTER being homeschooled than public schooled. Also interesting, to me, was that having one parent with a college degree teaching did help, it pushed kids from the 75th percentile to the 85th percentile. Still higher than most children in public school.

The whole study is here:

http://www.fraserinstitute.org/WorkArea/DownloadAsset.aspx?id=2953

Let me just say, I am not trying to put down parents who send their kids to public school. I am not. I think a large part of the disparity is the fact that if you are homeschooling your kid, you have more time and are more invested in their education. Most people don’t chose to do this so their kid can watch more tv. I think parents putting in the effort makes the difference, whether through homeschooling or through being involved in your kids life and education while they go to school.

If anyone who wanted to criticize me actually cared, they could see that, there is a lot of work and care that goes into this. Every Sunday night, I spend a few hours printing off that weeks school work, making copies where needed, separating everything into the days we need to do it, penciling in activities that will reinforce a concept. Trying to watch for where the boys are struggling and find things to help them. That sometimes the whole week gets rearranged because I realize one of them needs more than 2 days to learn this concept.When we go on trips, which is fairly often these days, the boys get worksheets about the states we visit, they get info sheets, I go to the library and find books about the states, about the history that happened there. They would see all the money that is spent on books and flash cards and various other things. They would see how much I LOVE doing this and how much the kids love it too.

When people complain about their lack of socialization, I wish they followed us for a week. They go to Lego playgroup at the library, they ride their bikes down the street and talk to anyone who is outside doing yard work, they play with the children of my friends, they go to the YMCA and play pool and air hockey with dozens of kids a week. They go to the pool and the splash park and always come back with stories about their new friends. They are in soccer. They go to church. At their dad’s house, the babysitter babysits 5 other kids besides the boys and their “step”sisters. They talk to the neighbors there as well, and volunteered to train the one lady’s new puppy. I spend half my day trying to stop the socialization! Meanwhile, the two little girls who live on either side of us aren’t allowed out to play, they sit in their windows and watch my kids play. I can hear them asking their moms if they can come over, and I honestly don’t care how many kids are here, but they have to stay inside and sit and watch my kids play.

I am not fanatical about this, if this stops working for us, then we will stop doing it. But right now, it’s working extremely well. Both boys have a step sister at their dad’s who is the same age, who go to public school, and I am able to keep up with what they are learning there, and my kids are right on track, and even ahead in some things. They aren’t awkward. I don’t shelter them. I am not religious, though Aussie is, so they are getting a bit of balance there. They are well behaved, I have had people ask us to go out so they can babysit! I just really hate that people are so quick to jump to conclusions.

Please, if you hear somebody say they homeschool their kids, talk about it. Ask questions. I know, I will willing talk about it all, as long as you aren’t acting like you are trying to trap me and prove this is bad.  As long as your kids are taken care of, I don’t care how you do it, so please don’t jump to the assumption that mine aren’t being taken care of.

Eta: I borrowed a book from the librarytoday, tips and tricks for homeschooling kinda thing, in the intro the author says she was determined to find out if homeschoolers were normal before she chose that for her son. She went to a convention and said that they were obviously not. They were polite and helpful, they didn’t wear baggy jeans, or weird haircuts, they didn’t have blue hair or peircings. And she decided she didn’t want “normal” kids, she wanted these kids. So, I suppose the assumptions go both ways. My sons have baggy jeans, as well as green or blue hair. They are extremely polite and helpful, but they have been asking to get an ear pierced, and the only thing stopping me is the tantrum their dad will throw.

There is Nothing Wrong with that Child

My oldest (8 yrs old) is giving me a hell of a time lately. He “forgets” everything. Everything is “too hard”. Or “not fair”. He wrecked TWO cars in a week, because he wasn’t paying attention on his bike.

His legs are tore up from cat scratches because he will NOT leave the cat alone like we’ve asked, every. single. day. for the last year.

He “can’t” memorize his multiplication tables, because it’s “too hard”. This is the same child who gets a 6-8 line Bible verse from the church he goes to with Grandpa every week, and doesn’t even look at it until the drive to church and has it memorized before they walk in.

He apparently wants confetti and a parade every time he picks up a piece of dirty laundry.

Punishment just does not work.

I was at my wit’s end this morning, when I vented on a message board I am a part of. The first 2 replies were “You need to have him evaluated for ADHD.” I kind of ignored those two, and then I got a handful of people going “he sounds like a boy. Send him out to pull weeds.” I got a lovely piece of advice, reminding me of what my job actually is, which is to train him on how to do all these things, and yes, I do need to do constant reminders. Not that he shouldn’t be held accountable, but, he’s still learning. Which I needed to hear.

Then, I got more than a handful of parents telling me how their kids just needed drugs and now they are fine.

Then, I got bombarded with private messages from teachers, telling me, if a child in their class acted like mine, the first thing they would do is tell the parents to have him evaluated and probably medicated. When I said I didn’t think that was necessary, I was accused of child abuse, and that if my child was in their class and I refused, it was their responsibility to call CPS.

Because I don’t want my child turned into a zombie? Because I would like drugs to be the last resort?

I’ll say it…I don’t think ADHD is a real thing, or maybe it is, but certainly not to the extent it is diagnosed. I think there are a LOT of people who have some serious issues, and need help. I know some kids and SOMETHING is wrong with them, but, to diagnose practically every kid who likes to run and doesn’t want to do things that aren’t fun as ADHD, does a great disservice to the kids who really do have issues. It amuses me, in a sad way, when an adult numbs their feelings, their pain, with alcohol, we call it a disease. When an adult numbs their problems with illegal drugs, we arrest them, but when we don’t practically put drugs in a candy dispenser to drug our kids,to numb them, to calm them, to quiet them, that is abuse.

I think it’s interesting the US is falling behind most other industrialized nations in, well, almost everything. We medicate our kids to fix them. But, oddly, the symptoms of ADHD and the signs of a gifted child are very close to the same. So, are we turning our smart kids from kids willing to tell the teacher they are wrong, who are happy to get engrossed in a new “invention” into kids who all act the same, because they are all on drugs that make them easier to handle? We don’t know why are kids are getting fatter, but we drug them if they don’t sit still.

I knew a woman whose son was an absolute terror. He makes mine look like perfect children. He screamed at, cussed at, and his his mother. He’d steal thing, He’d destroy property. He was terrible. And his mother dealt with it by saying “Martin you need to calm down” then she would take away something from him, he’d scream and take it back, and she’d throw her hands up and give in. Finally he was diagnosed with ADHD and Oppositional Defiance Disorder. ODD…look it up. The symptoms are your kid is a brat. The treatment? drug him up. Well, no, therapy, you don’t drug kids with ODD, but, they almost all have ADHD, which needs to be drugged out of them.

Why are we the only country that has such a prevalence of this disease?

Why am I being told my kid needs medicated to do his homework, because his brain makes it hard for him to sit still and concentrate, but…he has no problem reading a book. He sat still just fine on the 16 hr car ride last week, great behavior. He needs drugs to remember things, but, he doesn’t need drugs to remember Sat is soccer, or what day the minecraft video game came out, or what time the library closes, or what days we go to open swim at the YMCA. You know, I forget mundane things and remember fun things as well, apparently I’m ADHD. He needs medication to remember his multiplication tables, but, can remember a Bible verse fine, because he likes to be the best.

I don’t know what the answer is with my son, but, he was out pulling weeds, and mowing the lawn today, then he had chores inside as well. We’ve severely limited video game time, and canceled cable. We’ve all been changing our diet, to less processed food, less dye. Maybe none of this will have any effect, but I certainly can’t see how it would be bad for any of us either. And, I honestly think, I am now having to fix a few years of not great parenting, and I don’t know that I need to give my kid drugs with potential harmful side effects, so this is easier on me. I think there are far too many variable present, that can and should be changed before we rush to medication.

Now, I’m curious to see if I even have any more people reading this after this post, because I know one reader is completely against drugs and medication, and I know another one is a psychiatric nurse. I’m not trying to put down anyone, I’m just saying, I was concerned with how quickly I was told by complete strangers my kid needed medicated, because I was frustrated with him, and how when I said I wasn’t ready to worry about that at this point, I was accused of abuse. It isn’t even like anyone can claim he’s bothering a classroom. When he gets to be a handful, he gets to go out and pull weeds, that seems to help some.

I love Calvin and Hobbes, but this is so sad, and so true.

Thanks For Stopping By!

I will start this blog off with an about me and a why I’m writing.

I’m Punkie. Not my real name, my real name is far too easy to search by the people I am trying to hide from. No, I’m not in any danger, just don’t feel like being told what a horrible person I am. Why Punkie you ask? Because it’s what my boyfriend accidentally started calling me when his mouth moved faster than his brain and he merged Pumpkin and Honey; I liked it, so it stuck. Speaking of Boyfriend, he is Brad, or Aussie, or Mr. Wonderful. We’ve been together for about 2 yrs now. I also have 2 little boys, Monster 1 (he’s 8) and Monster 2 (he’s 6). Monsters are the fortunate outcome of an extremely unfortunate relationship with a man (and I use the term loosely) we will call DA…Dumbass. I honestly wish I was being snarky here, but, I’m not. I’m sure you’ll understand eventually. And a year old bad luck cat, who I have as kind of a “eff you” to superstition, and it seems to have worked (knock on wood).

I go to school full time and then some. I raise the boys. I homeschool the kids. I clean the house. Brad works out of town 5 days a week, but I no longer consider myself a single mom. That topic is a blog post for the future though.

I started this because many times I feel I need to keep my mouth shut on many things, especially religion and politics because I don’t want to offend my friends either on the far left or the far right. Everyone assumes I agree with them, and I rarely do. I don’t want to state things on my facebook page because far too often nobody can disagree without resorting to name-calling, insults, or “just because”. So, here, you have to seek me out. You don’t have to read if I offend you. A lot of my opinions tend to be contradictory, which makes it hard to fit in anywhere.

For example: I homeschool. So, I am automatically, 90% of the time a religious, right-wing, gun toting, mad woman, who won’t allow her children to socialize with anyone “different”, and I would let the kids go to public school if only they would put God back in it. 90% of the time, I am also assumed to be a timid woman, in a mid-calf length jumper, turtleneck sweater, Crocs, with waist length hair pulled into a bun. We drive to church in my minivan. My children are then assumed to be robotic drones, taught to say nothing but “Yes Ma’am”, but only for a couple years, until I, as a woman, am no longer in charge. I believe they are assumed to also only have bowl haircuts, large, black framed glasses, and pants 5 inches too short, because “God only cares what is on the inside”.

Yes, this is the sterotype:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mZaCiP2_2RM

In actuality…I go to 2 different churches, I have some issues with both, but I enjoy the sermons. One is very traditional, one is very modern. Hymns and rock bands. (See the contradictions coming already? And we’ve barely gotten started!) And, to make it more amusing, I’ve spent the last 5 years pretty much hating God. We are finally on speaking terms again. And my prayers rarely consist anymore of walking around the living room screaming at the ceiling, which is improvement. Anyway, back to that homeschooling thing, I have major issues with public schools, the least of which is whether or not God is in it. My children socialize with anyone and everyone, in fact one church we go to is about 85% people from other countries, so, I think they are getting MORE diverse socialization than they would at the cookie cutter school down the road, where they will hang out with their neighbor. I am not timid in anyway, quiet, yes. Timid, no. I only own calf length clothing because I am short and that is where knee length hits. I am not even sure I own a turtleneck. I think Crocs are a marvelous alternative to birth control and when my pink streaked hair gets past my shoulders, I get killer headaches, so, it is usually fairly short. I also have 7 ear piercings, an a nose ring, but look generally pretty normal. The boys have blue and green mohawks and no glasses, and generally ripped up jeans, because they like them, and tennis shoes with skulls on them. Oh, and we live with my boyfriend. I think mini-vans are evil. He drives a Wrangler, and I drive a cross-over SUV/Truck.

My favorite story about people making assumptions was back when I was dating a guy my friends called Train Wreck. He went on a half hour long rant one day about how weird homeschoolers were, how awkward and socially stunted they were, how it was on par with child abuse, how he could never even be friends with someone who didn’t go to school, etc. When he finally wound down, I sweetly asked “They why do you keep going out with me?” I also was homeschooled. The look on his face was priceless.

Anyway, back on topic. This blog is mostly to say all the things I can’t in around too many people. But it will also have funny stories, and anecdotes, and some travel blog too. Come  on, stay, follow me, you might like me.

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