The school year is a month away from wrapping up and Matt and I are barely holding it together.
It's been a tough year on him and I'm pretty proud of how he handled the year. He adjusted to going to a school three days a week, he took exams and quizzes like a champ (we never do exams and quizzes in homeschool), he adjusted to interacting with his schoolmates, and he grew up and matured a lot this past year.
There are some changes happening at his school and I find myself wondering if we should: a. try to enroll him in a new school, b. continue at his school, or c. just go back to homeschooling.
Matt's words at several points this year echoes in my head: "Mom, I'm so glad I go to school now."
There are no more tears and lessons when we're both angry and frustrated. There's no more (not as much anyway) pressure to cram all the learning we can in the 2 hours of homeschool everyday. (I've found that the shorter the lessons are, the more we focus on what's essential and the more likely he'll remember what he learns.)
We try to homeschool at least once a week. But, frustratingly, even if Matt's school is only three times a week, we use up the other two weekdays for reviews for exams and/or homework.
And if three days of homeschool already eats up so much energy, I can't imagine transferring Matt to regular school and having no breaks in the never ending stream of homework and exams. Especially when we've gotten used to the easy pace of homeschooling.
I get it. Life is tough. I get it. We learn as children and adults to do stuff we don't really want to do. That's what life is about, right?
But what if it could be different?
What if instead of going to regular school, you learn the lessons you need to learn (basic stuff like reading, writing, math, basic knowledge in science, history, music, arts, physical education) and then move on to the stuff that you really want to learn? What if kids are encouraged at a young age to find their passions, or at least have the option to explore and discover what they are?
We get so bogged down in what kids need to learn. We dictate and pull them taut like strings on a musical instrument, so wound up tight, it doesn't take much to break them.
And maybe I'm the lazy parent, the laziest homeschooler ever. I see other parents having all these things/accomplishments/goals/skills that their kids can do and I start to feel hopeless and lost.
Maybe I've made the biggest mistake ever. Maybe my son is going to suffer for the rest of his life because we made the mistake of homeschooling him.
But I really, honestly, from the bottom of my heart, can't believe that.
I have always walked by faith. Even when I didn't go to mass or didn't pray as often as I'd like. I forget a lot of the traditional prayers a Catholic upbringing has given me.
But I know, without a doubt, that my son has that same strong faith as I do. I know he's such a stickler for what's right and wrong and I'm amazed that he is brave and has no qualms of expressing himself. Sometimes, I wish I were more like him.
I guess I just needed to lay this down because I can't sleep, again. I can't sleep and sometimes, I torture myself by looking at all the curricula and educational materials online. I look at all the bookmarked websites I've saved, all the lessons and knowledge I've always been interested in so I figure my son might like them too. Maybe, as parents, that's one thing we do too much of. We want to give them everything, even if that means cramming the knowledge, skills, and experiences we always wanted for ourselves into them. Sometimes, sadly, some parents will even force their children to live their unfulfilled dreams.
Truth? The only unfulfilled dreams I have now which I want Matt to learn?
To find happiness and meaning in life. To have a faith so strong that no matter what events, people, circumstance, storms come into his life, he will be whole and be able to survive. To do what he loves. To be a good, God-fearing person who spreads joy and light in the world.
See, the problem is, I already see these things in him. I can only hope and pray he continues to be this way, and I have the faith that he will, because we taught him one basic thing. And that's faith.
So on to the question are we going to torture ourselves for another year of blended learning? Are we going to go back to the dungeon and homeschool again?
I really don't know.
I'm still weighing everything in my head and I still haven't solved anything. After all this time, after all this life I've lived, I realize one thing: I don't really know anything. That's why it's easier just to let God lead the way.
I torture myself with worries, insomnia, more worrying, worrying about what other people will say or do or think (not easy when you're a homeschooler). I worry about Matt, what the right place is for him, what is best for him, and what is best for his future. I worry about our finances (never enough) and how that has been our primary reason for homeschooling for several years now, maybe even since the beginning. And I worry if Matt will grow to resent me for not being able to give him the future he deserves and the lessons he needs/ed to learn, both in and out of the classroom.
See, I'm human. I worry a whole lot. I stay up and I worry some more.
But God is good. He takes pities on me. And when I can't stand the craziness anymore, He tells me to try and sleep and let Him handle it. Because He always does. And He always knows what's best.
We just pretend to be driving the car. When, as Bo Sanchez once wrote, we're actually like his son at the backseat, with his toy steering wheel, thinking we're the ones driving the car.
Let His will be done. Always. Amen.