I was never the person that thought I’d home school my kids. To be honest, I always thought it was a little strange when I was a kid although looking back on it now I probably would have been one of the kids who would have seen a lot of benefits from it. I hated school. It started in about 2nd or 3rd grade and really never quit. I hated homework, the social aspect of it, the getting called on and not knowing the answer…I hated it!
So, now here I am with 2 kids and one of them is going to be 4 this summer. Sadly, our time at home is almost through and we will need to begin our school discussion. I leaned heavily the home school direction after my first son was born and basically decided that was what I was going to do…until he was 2. Stuff started to get tough at home with a new baby and so I started sending him to daycare a couple mornings a week. It’s actually been really great for him. He stopped all the hitting that he was doing and is challenged when I can’t always deliver. I upped him to 4 mornings a week recently and I think it’s even better. Although some days he says he doesn’t want to go, when I pick him up he’s always happy and the teacher always tells me how great he is. That shows that he is blossoming in that environment plus there’s all that consistency stuff professionals tell you about.
So, this morning I was met with a challenge. I didn’t figure it’d be a challenge, but I almost blew my brains out folks! Seriously! Last Friday my son was given an assignment to bring in 100 goldfish crackers to help celebrate the 100th day of school. The kids are going to be making a snack mix. I thought “Aw cute! His first assignment.” I also thought “We’re definitely going to sit down on Saturday morning before the baby gets up and count our goldfish. It will be so fun” (and give us a Saturday morning purpose that isn’t Pinterest and cartoons). Well, of course Saturday morning came, he counted about 8 goldfish, and then started eating them. I gave up. Remember, I hated school! I waited ’til the last minute for everything. I promised myself I wouldn’t do that to my kids. I’m a grown up now. I can be on top of everything, but I guess old habits die hard! It’s apparently also like riding a bike. You never forget how to procrastinate. At any rate, I was awoken by a small child on Tuesday morning (the day this assignment was due) at 4:55 a.m. (F**king Yup, you read that right! 4:55 a.m.!) I figure, there’s no time like the present to count goldfish.
It was painful! So painful in fact, that I may have realized in that moment that I am not fit to be a teacher, not even in the privacy of my own home. The poor kid was tired, defeated, and kept saying two came after six. He knows how to count to 10, and in fact can make it all the way to thirty without skipping a beat, but forty comes and his poor little brain just melts. The idea of repeating one through nine over and over again is a concept he just cannot grasp. I explained over and over how to check himself, how to remember what number comes next. We got out our fingers and we counted one through five, he would then say “Six”. Great! Then I would say “OK, forty five. What comes next? Fortyyyyyyyy?” The poor kid looked like he had no idea and then he’d say “Two?”. Two! Two? What in the heck? I thought I had him…but nope. The whole time we were going through this I wanted to cry because I could see myself in him. I know he’s smart…Man, he’s really smart, but something wasn’t quite clicking. I know it’s only counting to 100 and I can’t freak out about his entire life based on the idea that he can’t magically count to 100. But Seriously!
I just kept having flash backs of sitting at the dining room table with my dad learning algebra. I actually came to love algebra later, but when I first started learning I could not get past the letters. Why X? Did it matter? Could it be a different letter? Did the X stand for something? Did I miss the part at the beginning of the school year where they said X=5 or something? My dad never got frustrated on the outside, but I’m sure “What the F**K is she not getting?” was going on on the inside. I remember the moment I got it. It wasn’t gradual. I didn’t get it for weeks and weeks and then one day, I just understood. “Oh, X is what we’re trying to find? Well, why didn’t somebody say that?”
I’ve feared a lot of things as a parent. I’ve feared screwing them up by letting them watch too much tv or not taking them outside enough or giving them cookies as a snack. I’ve never in my parenting life been so terrified to screw up my kid more by choosing the wrong kind of education. Public. Private. Home. It’s all good is some ways and probably not in others.
As of right now the only thing that is quite clear is that I can not pass the Patiently Count 100 Goldfish Crackers test.