The boys are now back to whatever passes for school for them. J is into his first full week of middle school, and Andy has started the first of his online classes. I’m having only a slight bit of difficulty reconciling myself to the fact that I am the parent of a sixth grader and high school freshman. Slight, of course, meaning all the difficulty in the world; I still think they’re my wee widdle babies who had a granola fight in J’s crib. That was last week, right? No? Nine years ago? Well. Shit.
This is the first year when it has really hit that I’m walking a fine line between the traditional education world and the homeschool education world. I am firmly in both camps, and yet not so. When people ask why I’m homeschooling one and not the other, my very truthful answer is that we have put our boys into the best educational structure for them at this time. If it changes, fine, we have experience with both and we can adapt. But for now, this is the plan, such as it is.
Last week J had his middle school kickoff. He got to bring in his school supplies, find his locker, walk his schedule and meet the teachers, have his school photo taken (which, doing this before the school year starts, is brilliant), and have a spot of ice cream. Kids and parents were everywhere, there was a feeling of relief (parents) and excited resignation (kids) in the air, and overall it was good to be there. Not ninety minutes later I was at a introductory homeschool meeting at a local library. Mainly parents, a few young kids, I was only one of maybe three who said they were homeschooling high school (please don’t call me brave, it is what it is), and there was more of a sense of Let’s Do This. I was both comfortable and uncomfortable at each of those events.
If I were truly honest, I’d be happy to have both boys in school. It’s exhausting for me to homeschool (mainly the planning and the panic), and while it can be done inexpensively, that isn’t exactly the case here. I’d be able to work full-time (provided I could find something), the boys could be involved in activities I can’t provide, and maybe we could pretend to be normal for awhile. We once lived this and it didn’t go so well (please see If This is a Gift, Can I Send It Back? <affiliate link> for the details of that little segment of life), but I still hold out hope. But if I were truly honest the other way, I’d be happy to have both boys home. To not have homework battles (because those will start a couple hours from now), to be free of worry about Pearson and PARCC testing and what all that intrusive assessment is doing to my kid, to teach my kids to learn at their own pace and as deeply as they’d like….well, it’d be nice. I’d certainly appreciate the slower and calmer mornings, that’s for damned sure.
I feel like I’m at the top of a split-rail fence, arms out for balance, walking heel-toe between two very different educational worlds. Both have their pros and cons, neither one is The One (just The Best At The Time For The Particular Kid), neither one is better nor worse than the other, both are awesome and beautiful in their own right. I teeter to one side or the other as I walk, thinking this is it I’m going to land on this side, but always manage to regain my balance and continue heel-toe. It’s going to be this way for the foreseeable future, as I don’t see bringing J home or sending Andy to what is inarguably an enormous high school, though one with a great STEM program. Who knows, something may change this year and finally shove me into one camp or the other, but for now, I’ll just continue to walk the line.