I’m going to sit here and reread that sentence a couple thousand times and use the deep, controlled breathing I last used during childbirth.
In under a month. I. Will be. The mom. Of. A. Teenager.
In under a month I will be homeschooling a teenager.
Sweetbabyjesusonacircuspony. Screw the breathing, I need a drink. Several. Very stiff. Skip the glass and bring me a straw.
I’m not ready for this. I’m not ready for any of it. I’m still reeling from the last dozen years and in this marathon of parenting and homeschooling a twice-exceptional kid the most difficult miles are still ahead; they’re uphill, into a strong wind, and my shoelaces are tied together. I know it can be done and I know it has to be done, but damn…how?
So I’ve been brainstorming to figure out what I need to homeschool the next handful of years and exit the other side with some measure of sanity and self-esteem still intact. Never mind the fact that I really don’t have much sanity and self-esteem now.
1. I need an assistant. Call the person an intern, a minion, my life-manager, whatever. Am I actually going to get one? No, but I need one. I need an intern to help me manage the minutiae of my life. Job responsibilities include, but are not limited to: filing the stack of papers on my desk that is plotting a violent coup; endlessly researching curriculum for a visual-spatial twice-exceptional tech wizard with ADHD; interviewing contractors for housing repairs; planning (and preparing!) meals for a family of four that has one gluten-free adult who is convinced zucchini once tried to kill her, one picky child, one gluten/dairy/corn-free teen, and one adult who will eat almost anything; staying on top of the papers that come home from the school for the 4th grader; cleaning my house so the health department doesn’t pay a surprise visit and arrest me for child endangerment. I can pay internship wages (um, nothing), but the experience is worth it, right? I’m sure it’ll also convince any personal assistant to be her neighborhood’s crazy cat lady rather than procreate.
2. Thick, thick, thick skin. You know how when you bring a baby home from the hospital, they’re all nice and light and easy to carry? And as they get heavier you get stronger? I’ve long thought that raising a G2e kid is like that, but on the psyche. I can deal with crap now that would have knocked me on my ass several years ago. It’s almost like developing a callous on your emotions. It’s not that you are callous, you just have a higher tolerance for certain things. You have to start over and develop new callouses when you start homeschooling; I wasn’t prepared for that. So my emotions and psyche are a little tender and raw at times. Lather, rinse, repeat.
3. An enormous sense of humor and an utter lack of embarrassment. Look, I knew there would be The Talk and continuing sex ed that I couldn’t hand off to the school, but if my kid makes another crack about
my his parents’ sex life… I just figured that at this point of his life he’d have buddies to joke with. God help us if/when a young female enters the picture.
4. Backup, support, a net. Whatever. Call it what you will, I’m going to need a lot of help over the next few years. In no particular order: a mentor for A so he has someone to talk tech with/learn from (and so my eyes don’t permanently glaze over); a group or club of some sort for the boys to join where I do not have to stay and they will be there for several hours and it is not a battle
to the death of wills to get them out the door to go there (seriously, this is a huge problem and why I am so drained; A has only Boy Scouts and you’d think we were water-boarding him); other families who live close by and have complex, out-of-the-box kids with whom we get along; a community where we are welcomed and don’t feel like “those strange people” for a change; grownup friends for me and Tom (we’d really like to go out with friends once in awhile).
5. A soundproofed room of my own, with a door and a lock. If I’m going to make it through this marathon at a sprint’s pace, I need to embrace my introversion and set up some strong boundaries. While writing this post I asked the boys to leave me alone for 45 minutes to work; I’ve been interrupted no fewer than five times with arguments, questions, attitude, and general crap, so something that should have been a quick fun task became an endless slog of refocusing myself. My desk is in the corner of the living room and no matter how I set things up, it’s just an open invitation to interrupt me. Tom could be standing in the middle of the floor with a sign on him that reads “Nothing to do…open for questions…I’ll pay you to bug me” and the boys would walk around him to get to me. This is why my brain hates everything sometimes.
Bonus needs: unlimited funds, a yearly solo vacation somewhere warm in February (I’m convinced this winter is really trying to kill me), and good quality wine. I ask not much.
The teen years are ahead and I really am worried. They’re rough on the most resilient teenager and the most functional family. I have no idea what’s coming up and how hard it will hit. I know I’ll get through it, I always do, but dang. After the past twelve years I am really hoping for a calmer parenting experience for the next twelve.
One month and there will be a teenager in the house. A homeschooled teenager.
This post is part of March’s Gifted Homeschoolers Forum Blog Hop. This month’s topic is “Homeschooling (and parenting) Gifted/2e kids into their teens and beyond.” Go check out the other participants!