Thursday, June 07, 2007

A Day in the Life of a Homeschooler

Inquiring minds want to know, “What’s it like homeschooling the girls? What’s your average day like?”

“Well, it’s a lot like your day, really. Not much different,” I reply. I’m not really lying so much as completely shutting the conversation down so I can get back to whatever it is I really want to do at that particular moment. Or maybe I just want to sound like it’s me, the mama/teacher, that’s in control.

A homeschool day bears very little resemblance to any day ever experienced by your standard suburban American family with two incomes and three kids in school. The differences start with the sun rising – though in Seattle even that it is an optional feature – and end when the sun goes down. Everything in between is pretty much a crap shoot. Any little bit of a homeschool day that resembles regular work and regular school and regular family life is purely coincidental.

For example, the girls do not see their father in the mornings any more, and I do not willingly spend time with them after dinner. We used to divide the morning harangue and the evening story-time cuddling about evenly between us. We used to divide cooking, cleaning, and wiping asses pretty much 50-50 as well. Now Dean gets up at a sub-human hour, sweats with a bunch of middle-aged men on a basketball court, and then heads straight to work leaving with me with the morning cacophony.

If you are a parent, then this phrase should resonate: Mornings blow chunks. You thought they sucked when you were single and so hung over you could feel your heart beat in your eye balls, but you were as yet untutored to the truths of family life. Nothing compares to the daily hell faced by parents attempting to get their children to school.

First, children don’t wake well. Waking your average six-year-old is like trying to wake a mature bear in February. My understanding is that this only gets worse until they hit about 30. If you can muster them out of bed, you then confront the challenge of getting them dressed. You might think a ten-year-old fully capable of getting dressed properly until yours skips down the stairs on a blustery winter day dressed only in shorts and a tank top. Sulky is the most polite word to describe the expression you’ll receive when explaining that 38 degrees Fahrenheit with winds 20 to 25 knots makes it a pants and long sleeves day.

Breakfast is easy if you want to feed them cereal. If you want to do that noble, responsible thing, you need to stretch your culinary talents into realms of chicken embryos, fried pig, and one of the five thousand ways to serve bread, sugar, and cinnamon.

Of course, chores are next. The beds, the wet bath towels, the dead hamster. All of these need attention and effort. The dishes should be stowed and all the prior evening’s entertainment should be put away before anyone considers starting to educate the Nation’s Future. After all, you might be visited by Child Protective Services sometime during the day. Or worse, the house/boat could catch fire and those sexy firemen could show up. Manky, poop-smeared panties on the bathroom floor, abandoned in a frenzy of cleanliness and bathing the night before, are just not acceptable.

Moving onward, you must now lay out the school supplies. Pencils are like socks in the dryer, only worse. It seems like every morning we have to turn the boat upside down to find a Pencil Quorum enabling every student in our mini-school to do her work. Where is the half-finished book report? The ingredients for the practical life lesson – “This week manicotti the way your dad’s grandma made it!” Why the hell does the science textbook look like it went through the washing machine? Afternoon errands mean we need all the library books in the library bag and the grocery list and all of Mom’s microdot checks from miscellaneous clients.

Let’s all go through the final check list. Vitamins? Check. School stuff? Check. Breakfast consumed? Check. Beds made? Check. Okay, deep breath. Now we are ready for school.

Wait a minute. I take it all back. This all sounds identical to normal school life.


Idaho Dad said...

Mornings blow chunks.

Mornings make me wish that I did drink just so I could have an excuse for being so groggy in the morning.

My kids, 5 and 8, both just hop right out of bed instantly awake and alert. I'm not sure how they could be mine.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for sharing your homeschooling experience. I have tremendous success in homeschooling my children. Definitely not easy, but well worth it. Have a great summer.

Cap'n Franko said...

Oh, darlin', that sounds waaaaay too much like school-at-home. Relax! Getting up at the crack of noon and choosing to not make the bed works for me. And you haven't been flooded by homeschool blogger replies this time, except for the creepy Christian. That's interesting.

And when CPS, or any goverment representative, stops by, I always stand firmly on my 4th amendment rights! Followed closely by invocation of my 5th amendment rights! IME, both amendments are often useful when interacting with grandma, too!