Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Domestic Enemies of the HOMESCHOOLING Mom

Please give a big WELCOME BACK to MamaJulep, also known as Kathy Kennedy.  She wrote a rant about homeschooling last summer that rocked our world.  She's hilarious, honest, gorgeous and (gasp) homeschools her -- count 'em -- six kids.  Oh yes.  And she hasn't lost her mind... Yet... 


I haven't always been a homeschooling mama.  I've had my kids in school, done the carpool shuffle, been room mother, had a career, spent hours on homework and art projects, sold raffle tickets, bought teacher gifts and made hundreds of party favors.  I can't tell you exactly how I landed in Homeschool World, perhaps I was affected by one too many epidurals.  But I will say this, I'm glad we all have options so I can do this, and I can also put them back in traditional school any time I want which I think about every single day!  Homeschooling has been great for my family, but just like you, I have my own set of domestic enemies.

Privacy? Whuck is that?
Homeschooling means I am with all six of my kids every single hour of every single day.  I love my kids, but I really don't want to hang with them in everything I do.  Sometimes I wanna shower without being interviewed every six seconds.  And you’re in this hostage situation where you're wet and naked and your kids wanna move in and go number two while you're trying to get fresh and not stinky, and they need to know right freakin' now if you can help find the Wii remote.  Why now?  Are they scared I'm gonna wash it down the drain?

Remember how you felt during those last few weeks of summer and all you wanted was for that school bell to ring?  Well that bell never rings for me.  And every day we do the same thing we did the day before and it's like my kids have never met me and we all just got thrown together for the first time, and it's Ground Hog Day and I'm Bill Murray and it will never, ever be February 3rd. So I have to get real creative in order to find some time to myself.  The most "me" time I get is when I hide in my closet with a bag of Orange Milano cookies or a Lean Cuisine and I try and drown them out with Huey Lewis on my iPod.  And if I get on the phone with a gal pal, to get a life line to the rest of humanity, it never lasts long, because they'll re-enact the kitchen scene from Jumangi or a battle from Braveheart.

Appointments are super fun when you have to bring the whole gang! During my last pregnancy, all my peeps came with me to every flippin' OB appointment because all the sitters are in school. And you have no secrets because your sweathogs are with you all the time. You'll never hear about a homeschool mom starting a cult or running a crime spree because our kids get in the way of anything we try to do in secret, even crime. Unless maybe your homeschooled by Bobby and Whitney.

Discipline and Consistency
You know how kids get when you ask them to do chores, and you'd make a blood pact with them if they'd just do it for once for the love of Maude?  Add to that, asking them to finish their math assignment or wrap up that library book on Christopher Columbus before the library police come after us because our overdue fees are so high now, Mama's gonna have to give 'em a kidney next time.

And if you think homeschooling mamas are home basking in all that is education, and that we L-O-V-E diagramming sentences and multiplying improper fractions and memorizing state capitals, you'd be wrong!  I love a lot about what I do, but like anything to do with knuckleheaded kids, it can snap you in half and I can go from Julie Andrews to Eunice from Mama's family in a half a millisecond. And I think I have pretty good kids but I have to stay on them like a prison warden during school hours or they'll make shanks and bust outta there like they've got a hidden stash of airheads in the backyard. Oh wait.  They have,

If you're wondering if homeschooling is a good idea because it's economical, that'd be a "NO".  Not only does Mama have to give up a salary to stay home with her sweathogs, but she has to buy all their school stuff.  And if you think textbooks are high, try buying a few teacher's manuals.  Plus you'll need a globe.  And a microscope.  And refills of Xanax. 

So you try and barter with other homeschooling moms and trade out and make deals to keep from becoming "book-poor", but that can lead to another issue...Curriculum Envy.   Homeschool moms are just like every other mom group.  Most of us are normal and cute and awesome, but some of us are "There's a man on the wing of this plane" batsh*t crazy.  And they think their choices are best and they would never, ever, use that book because it referred to 'such and such' on page four thousand ten and reading that may make your child a psychopath.  Or a vegetarian.  Really? 

Field Trips
We have field trips, just like you, only with other families.  Rather than loading up a mass of kids onto big, yellow buses, with four chaperons, we have a caravan of SUV's and Econobuses with the whole freakin' family in tow.  We unload at the entrance with our strollers, diaper bags and kids ranging to the point that some of them are driving, and the attendant comes out and looks like he's about to call a DefCon Two (or maybe 9-1-1). 

It looks like the Brady Bunch showed up at the power plant with all their groovy relatives.  They're not used to us.  They're used to uniformed children, standing in line, with name badges and teachers with whistles and clipboards.  I want to give my six pack those opportunities, but it can be like taking your whole family to Walmart for the day and trying to do school there, with a bunch of other Bradys.  And we might experience another kind of meltdown at the power plant when your baby decides she's had enough and wants to nurse right now, and the big, burly men are watching you, biting their nails, hoping you won't do the unthinkable and whip one out.

Cafeteria Duty
My six pack has an early breakfast because they wake up like they just came off a hunger strike.  Then somewhere around 9:00, they're back in there, pilfering, yanking, stockpiling.  I'd like to close the kitchen long enough to run the dishwasher and see the floor!  By 11:00 they're back in there like zombies. And it's like feeding Hobbits and I'm their waitress and they never, ever want to leave the diner.  I wanna put the kitchen in lock-down mode and plant a gorilla in front of the fridge and put up a "no unloading zone" sign in there.  But then I wouldn't be able to get to my orange Milano cookies or shot glasses. 

And getting out in the world involves a military maneuver of car supplies like ice chests of water and capri suns and boxes of chocolate chip Cliff bars and pretzels, because for Mama to take us all through the drive through, we'd have to stop off first at Eddie's Pawn Shop or the Plasma Center.  And no one wants us to come in their restaurant.

Family can be super crazy because they love you and don't really understand what you do all day.  And you get snippy comments about how their kids are in "real" school, like mine are in clown school all day.  But the same crew will call and ask you to deal with stuff they don't have time for, but think you do. Because you're kids are probably watching Dora for Spanish and Diego for biology so you can Facebook or something (okay, maybe sometimes).  So you get asked to go check on grandma, or plan the vacation, or look up a damn phone number because "I'm d r i v i n g"... (oh, even yesser, quite often!). And if you were in the middle of teaching something, it's now lost because the attention span of a kid is somewhere on the same level as a flea.  So I hope that phone number was for an attorney, because you're gonna need one when I file that restraining order.  But for now, I'll just disconnect the phone or move to another state or go in the Witness Protection Program.

Don't get me wrong.  I love the lifestyle we have.  I love being there when my kids have *finally* figured out something they've struggled with, and it is hard, but no different than the other hard "Mommy" stuff.  No where else could you listen to your teen give an oral report on Oliver Twist while your toddler dances around her naked, singing "Don't Stop Believing."  And nothing, not even my domestic enemies, could ever stop me from being a Homeschooling Mommy!

(c)Herding Turtles, Inc. 2009 - 2011

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