Some days, homeschooling is great. The kids are happy and eager to learn, the babies are cooperative, there are easy and healthy options for meals, and we're all best friends with each other.
This ideal version is rare, but when it happens, it can be amazing! And you're on the top of the world! And you can achieve anything in life! Everything is wonderful!
Then, you have those horrible days straight out of a horror movie.
The kids wake up on the wrong side of the bed and are cranky about reading. Math problems elicit an hour-long crying session. It's ramen noodles and canned peaches (maybe) for lunch, and everyone is an enemy to each other.
Hopefully, these days are few and far between. Mostly, what I have found is that most of life, including homeschooling, falls somewhere in the middle of this continuum - some days are better (or worse) than others. And many of us look to blogs and testimonials to get encouragement, as well as to know that it's not just our family that has the occasional life-hiccup.
So, I'm going to share the following story in order to add to the (vastly prolific) homeschooling testimonials out there:
Earlier this year (as in January/February timeframe), my girls went through this phase of deciding that math worksheets (and yes, it was really just math) were the most boring things on the planet, and they really did not want to do them. So... just about everyday, one or both of them would have a meltdown about it. And when my kids throw a tantrum, they really release the Kraken. I mean, there was screaming and crying and whining and moaning for sometimes up to an hour or two. I would have to banish them to the basement (don't worry - the basement is semi-finished and has all of our books and most of their toys down there, and it's not too shabby of a place, really) because of the noise level - we still had a nap-taking one-year-old.
And before you think that, oh, maybe they couldn't do the math, it was too hard, they needed more help, it's not true. Because eventually (it may have been an hour or two later), they were somehow magically able to complete the worksheet with no help at all, probably because they finally realized that there would be no fun until it happened. Yes, my kids may be stubborn, but I do believe I am more stubborn than they are.
This went on for weeks. And it was exhausting. And irritating. And made me want to throw in the towel. My wife eventually shared this with her Mother, who offered a monetary bribe, of sorts. She sent some cash and everyday there was no crying fit, the child would get $1.00.
Think about this for a second. Getting money for doing a math sheet with no crying. These kids are LUCKY.
Well, the first one to get on board was the 6 year old. Before long she had earned $5.00, and the oldest was incensed - how could her younger sister have money when she did not? So then, she started changing her ways and eventually got herself some cash too.
So, now it seems like they have gotten out of this habit, for even though some days they still balk about doing their math work, things haven't been quite as overdramatic and insane as before.
Why share this story? Well, I can't believe that I am the only one that has to deal with stubborn, meltdown-maniac children. I'm sure many parents do, whether they homeschool or not, and I just wanted to let you poor souls know that you are not alone, and you have my deepest sympathies. But push through - eventually you'll get to the other side and things will be fantastic!
Until it's not again, which will probably be tomorrow. But in the end, this is the way I would have it because... well, they're my daughters and I love them. And I'd be willing to throw away a career or have no career whatsoever for them.
Scott Keen is the author of three young adult fantasy novels, Scar of the Downers, Rise of the Branded, and War of the Downer King.