Too many thoughts, too little time.

Posts tagged ‘home school’

A Success Story, Part 3

Continued from Part 1 and Part 2

Part 3: A Graduation, A Mustang, and A Teenage Mother

I had dreams and goals. One was to join the military, and get far away. I actually finished my junior and senior year at the same time. I never said anything, but when it was slow at work, or when I was babysitting all my siblings so my parents could grocery shop for 6 hours an evening, I did homework. They never checked or looked at it. I even graded it myself, so I could be sure I was getting my answers correct. They didn’t know until the college acceptance letters started rolling in. Texas, Florida, Ohio, Georgia, California…anywhere but here. I ended up getting a full ride scholarship to a state school 3 hours away, so, I began to pack, while my mother sobbed about me being so far away. But, I was going, damn it. So, I packed, and I told anyone who would listen. Luckily, our church wasn’t super conservative, so, I was encouraged in this pursuit. I even got a senator who went to our church to write me a letter of recommendation, so, he was a big help when he talked to my parents about me. There would be no hiding this and guilting me into staying home. (Unfortunately now, that senator is a huge home schooling advocate. He often blocks anything that may change the status quo, which in this state is basically nothing.)

This is always my parents’ first response when people don’t think homeschooling is great. That Punkie got a full ride scholarship to a good school, therefore homeschooling is good, and they are amazing parents. They never mention that I flunked literally every single class that semester I was gone. That, I didn’t make any friends. That they brought me home every single weekend.  But, I got into the good school, so, I am a success story.

Before I left, I got myself a boyfriend. I didn’t even really intend to. He was cute, and seemed like somebody I could get into some trouble with. We were going to college in opposite directions, and to be honest, I was tired of this burdensome “virginity” thing following me around. I was tired of modesty and acting right, because otherwise, I was a slut and men only cared about sex, and please insert your own used, dirty, useless, worthless, disgusting gum, tape, whatever analogy here. I didn’t want to get married for 15 more years, and I was not going to put up with this forever. So, I wanted to go ahead and get the first time out of the way, and move on. I never planned on a real relationship, and from what I had learned about men, he would be ok with that.

He wasn’t. And, I had been taught that love meant never standing up for yourself, it was long suffering, and if it involved pain and yelling and abuse, well, it was normal and probably your fault anyway. So, when the boy, Joe, began to fly his red flags proudly, I supported him, because he loved me, he said. And, when he reminded me, I was worthless, it hurt, but I was comfortable, I was used to this. He must REALLY love me, because that is how you treat people you love. After my first semester at college, I was put on academic probation. My parents told me if I would just come home, they would buy me a Mustang. I love cars, especially sports cars. Since I was doing so poorly at school, I agreed. I moved home, they found out about my bad grades and said I only came home because of my grades, not because I missed them, and, I never got the car.  I still pine after that 1967 Royal Blue Mustang they told me I could have.

Joe began pressuring me to get married. I said yes, because I never learned to say no. I was 17 and clueless. A few months went by, and he treated me worse. I thought long and hard about it, and decided, this was not what I wanted, it would not work. As we sat in his Accord, I told him, while I loved him, I could not marry him at this point, and we needed to call off the wedding. He begged me to give him a little while to process it, before having to deal with the embarrassment. I gave it to him. A couple weeks later the pregnancy test came back positive.

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A Success Story, Part 2

Continued from here

Part 2: The Runaway and the Bad Influence

At 13, I decided I’d had enough. My mother was going to the hospital to have another kid. I was to babysit and put the kids to bed, and my grandma would come over and stay the night after that. I planned, I packed. I wrote my letter, and I shook out of anger and fear all day. I made the meals, and did the homework and put them all to bed. I needed to be taken seriously, so, I spent all day basically beating myself. Hitting, smashing my arms in doors, running into walls. Over and over. I was hurting so badly. My grandma got there, and I told her I was going to bed. She eventually fell asleep. I called my best friend and her mom, and they came and got me. I sneaked out of the house, nobody heard a thing. Nobody knew I was missing until late that night my dad called to tell us we had a new brother. By then, I was already at the police station. I told them everything. I tried to tell them the current bruises were self-inflicted, but we needed help. They were abusive, they were neglectful, they were not teaching anything, we were not being home schooled so much as we were being kept isolated. One officer sat down in front of me and took my hands, he said “If these are not from your dad, recently, we have to take you home, right now. We don’t have a choice. You have to have something we can work with now. Now, are you sure these didn’t come from today? Or do we need to take you back to your dad tonight?”  It was about 2am, I was exhausted, and terrified. This wasn’t going how I had planned. So, I said yes, they were new, they were from him, I was scared. Please help me.

I spent 2 days with my best friend, 3 days in foster care, then had court. On the stand, sworn to tell the truth, I told the judge the bruises were self-inflicted, but we did need help. I didn’t know at that time, my parents knew the judge, and they got HSLDA to help them. In fact, 6 months later, we would switch churches and attend the judges.  I told my story, and I was sent to live with my grandparents for 3 months.  The mental and emotional abuse continued, but, this time it was just through phone calls, and court ordered therapy sessions to get to the root of why I “was a liar.” The therapy was though my mother’s therapist, who told me that of course they were angry and short tempered, they had a bunch of kids who would not do what they should, the abuse would stop when we behaved better. My grandmother eventually put me in counseling to get over the counseling.

I was eventually returned home, because my accusations were unsubstantiated. I was told a CPS worker would coming to the house every month for 6 months to check on us. Nobody ever came. I convinced myself that it must not be that bad, I mean, these people were there to help, and they all said I didn’t need help. So, I guess it wasn’t abuse. And, then it got worse.

They wouldn’t allow any family to visit anymore, because they had shown that they would “steal” us, and believe lies. I was not allowed to attend church functions. I wasn’t allowed to have friends. I wasn’t allowed to be involved with any activities, for years. I did my homework, I planned a new escape, I kept the house clean, I cooked, and I took my siblings punishments. All while being blamed for anything that went wrong. Any disobedience in my siblings was my fault, I had “taught them to be rebellious.” I was once punished for shouting “Oh yeah? Then who taught me?” Any time I wanted anything, I was mocked or got a guilt trip, because I didn’t deserve it after all I put them through.

I had a job, but, it was at my aunt’s business. I was the only employee, brought in to work when they had to go out of town. I didn’t have much to do most the time, so, I did school work, chatted online, and read books. I learned a lot about the outside world from that experience. I remember times locking up and walking a couple blocks through town to get a soda at lunch, both terrified my parents would show up then to check on me, and think I was lying about where I was, but also thrilled at this little bit of freedom. I saved money, while listening every day to my mother complain about how much time and money it took to take me to work. Because, of course I couldn’t be trusted to have a license at 16, what if I ran away again? I was often late to work, because my mother has never thought being on time was important.

Things were always so frustrating. I hadn’t changed after running away, except for getting angrier. The people who should have helped, didn’t. I was branded a liar, when I felt I didn’t have a choice. The fact the court cleared them meant they were viewed as amazing parents who had a rebellious child, tricked by Satan into hurting these amazing people. Yes, I was a direct attack from Satan on them. Me.

They got hugs and sympathy at church. Meanwhile, other parents told their kids they weren’t allowed around me, because I was a bad influence. My parents were applauded for how well we behaved. Of course we did, the price for giggling too loudly in church was too high to pay. We weren’t allowed in Sunday school for years, because my mother couldn’t bear to have us away from her. One of her favorite sayings, even today, she talks continuously about how she wants to buy 100 acres in the middle of nowhere, and we all can live there together, and she can be surrounded by her children because she loves them so much and can’t stand to be away from them.  When all 10 of us “quietly” tried to sneak into church 15 minutes late, and of course we ALL had to sit together, there was always a lot of noise as we got people to move for us. And, nobody dared say anything about it, because my mother was always quick to tell how difficult it was to get 8 children ready for church so early. She never told how we were all up and ready before her and dad woke up. She never told how we’d sit on the sofa at time to leave, and hear them having sex almost every week. She never told how she complained loudly about church, how she didn’t want to go, how they should just have their own church at home, where her kids could be with her all the time, and never around bad influences (except Punkie, of course.).

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…

 

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.

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?

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