where wildly different is perfectly normal
It’s the first day of the future
It’s the first day of the future

It’s the first day of the future

Today at 3:45 PM central standard time two wildly different and wonderful things happened.

Winter break, for which I have pined all this autumn, began with smiles and candy canes and backpacks overflowing with holiday crafts. The other?

The House of Chaos Homeschool is now in session.

I will pause to let long-time readers absorb the enormity of that sentence.

<insert cheerful Christmas music here>

I will now proffer smelling salts for those still a little woozy and confused. I’ve been reaching for them the better part of the day, as I come to terms with the fact that I was giving up a great job in a craptastic economy.

Feeling better now? Good.

I think we’ve known for some time that homeschooling was coming, though we may not have admitted it. I always considered it the last of all resorts, a “when hell freezes over” option. But from the time we moved here and A started at the new school, it muscled its way into the forefront. From the very first meeting with the 5th grade team, to the 504 meeting that wasn’t, to barely keeping my shit together with a new job, to coming to terms with the fact that sometimes change is less painful than not changing, to reading about my life in a book I didn’t write, to begging for help with letting go…homeschooling was coming, it was just a matter of time.

And we couldn’t be more thrilled.

I’m sure the school is relieved; they do not need to “do” anything now. I faxed the official letter, followed by a more personal email to the evaluation team; not five minutes passed before I received a very nice reply from the principal, wishing us well. Relief actually poured off his email. Trust me dude, we’re considerably more relieved than you are. Me? Bitter? Maybe just a little. I researched school districts for six months before the move, trying to find one that might be able to accommodate A’s idiosyncrasies. The district is wonderful (J is staying at the elementary school), it just has no idea how to educate a twice-exceptional child. Part of the reasoning behind homeschooling A is the fact that J is doing so well at the school; we could have really pushed for A, but it would have been at the expense of J’s experience at the school. No winners in that scenario.

This afternoon A and I were talking about how we’re going to work this whole homeschool thing. If I’d had any residual doubts about homeschooling, they evaporated at the sight of my son, who not three minutes before had been prattling about Wii games, now shaking the floor with his leaps of joy when the realization hit that he now had time to learn how to use the slide rule he received as a Christmas gift a year ago. And that he’d never have a sick day, because he could “do math” from bed. And that his second language will be computer code. And the fierce hug he gave me a bedtime, with a whisper in my ear “I’m so glad you’re homeschooling me, mom.”

This is going to be good for him, good for our family. I have no idea what I’m doing, but I know how and where to find the resources I need. It helps that we live close to my family now, and that they’re so supportive of this difficult decision.

We start in the morning, with an extended period of deschooling. First up? A family visit to the Museum of Science and Industry, the awesomest museum in Chicago.

Buckle up kids, here we go.


  1. Ho.Ly.Fuck.

    Wow, I almost can’t believe I just read this. I’m glad that A is so on-board with it. I’ll seriously be praying for you guys. I know you’re well aware that it’s not going to be a piece of cake. But, at the same time, I know you’ll do one hell of an awesome job. A is right to be so excited.

    And, just a little side note – we just discussed visiting MSI ourselves next week since I’ll be on break. Maybe we’ll see you there! 🙂

  2. Wow. *picks self up and grabs smelling salts* Wow wow wow.

    Okay, now that that’s out of the way, I think this is going to be awesome for your family! I think A is going to completely blow you away as he starts realizing all that stunted potential, and I think it’s going to be a HUGE weight off your shoulders as you look at him and see “this is working, it’s working!”. I’m sure there will be ups and downs, just like there would be in any situation, but I have no doubt that you have the resources, skills, trust and love to fall back on to get you through them and get back to soaring high.

    On a personal note, I’m so relieved that I didn’t have to go down that path with mine. I don’t think we’d be a very good fit, and they’d get seriously shortchanged in the language and culture of the country they actually live in. I might raise up good human beings, but they’d be American expats, not native Israelis with American highlights like they are now…

    My photography is available for purchase – visit Around the Island Photography on etsy and Society6 and bring home something beautiful today!

  3. cocobean

    Everyday is hard… but those moments of joy – they really do make it all worth it. And seeing that they keep their love of learning? Worth every battle. Tuck this post away for the roughest days 😉

  4. Jen, I am so excited for you! Our son is 20 and is very grateful that we homeschooled for 10 years. I certainly am, from the perspectives of both education and family.

    Do it your way, be willing to change course mid-stream (several times!), and you’ll be just fine.

    I wish I could join you and do it all over again. 🙂

  5. I got a bit weepy at that! I hope this is a great experience.

    (And as an aside, have you considered using a pseudonym for the boys instead of A and J? Not that my Pook and Bug are -in hindsight- the best alternatives, but something that is a real name.)

  6. Way to go, Jen! I’m so happy for you and A. I can’t promise that everyday will be bliss, but you’ll soon find your groove. I gotta think that being taken out of an environment that focusses mainly on his weaknesses, into one that plays to his strengths, is going to give that kid a real chance at success. Onward and upward!

  7. sooveverything

    WoW! Good for you and your family. I know this was not an easy decision. It is something we flip back and forth between ourselves. You are an amazing mom and are going to do a fantastic job.

    Merry Christmas – I think this may be the best present your family gets this year.

  8. I’m anxious but watchful of this news. My six-year-old sounds like a younger version of your A and right now we are trying desperately to fix his square-peg self into the round hole of kindergarten.
    Can you say, “not working”? Yeah. I have that homeschool voice muttering in my head too, but I really, really, REALLY don’t want to. Mine doesn’t have a diagnosis right now, but I’m pretty sure we’re headed to 2E land in the very new future.
    I’m scared, but I hope for the best. I can’t wait to read about your home-school adventures!

  9. Mona

    So happy for all of you – I know it’s been a tough choice, but it sounds like the right one for your family. It has been fantastic for my kidlet – none of his former teachers would recognize him if they saw him at his studies. Because he is now studying at his own speed. And he is making amazing progress in both his strengths and weaknesses!

  10. Woo hoo! Just think – a little over a year ago we were in exactly the same position, only wanting to homeschool if “things got bad”. A year older – we are loving it!!! We have our wobbly moments, but it is such a relief to take our 2e son home and learn the way that suits him. No more meetings! I can honestly say it was the best thing we ever did as a family (and I left my crappy job too).

    So welcome to the wonderful world of homeschooling! Enjoy your deschooling (and you need more of it than you think!) and enjoy your learning 🙂

  11. Anthony

    Excited for you both! You are all more than capable, and it will be wonderful for you. We may have our own day at this, and will surely turn to you for advise. Until then, enjoy the ride, and scream as needed!

  12. Jan

    Awesome! I too will be reading your posts on how it is all going with interest…we too are starting our homeschooling journey. In Feb when 2 of our 3 girls go back to school, I will “officially” start homeschooling my 8 year old. As a family it’s all very exciting, even her older and younger sisters are excited for her despite having to continue going to school.

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