It’s been interesting times in these here parts. Like I said when you last heard from me, I headed to San Diego for a blogging conference and the day after I came back, two things happened…I had emergency oral surgery (with complications) AND my husband left for a week on a business trip. Single parenting 3-boys while on major painkillers is not an experience I can say I recommend.
And then when he came back, his company moved to new offices and so the single parenting pretty much continued.
Like I said, it was interesting.
I can’t believe how hard that recovery kicked my butt, but oh, how it did.
Yesterday was my first full day out of bed and it was a memorable one.
Besides the fact that I was so tired that I was practically faceplanting into the fruit salad at dinner, I had a pretty memorable day.
I registered James for high school.
Let me repeat that.
I REGISTERED JAMES FOR HIGH SCHOOL.
I have so many mixed emotions about this.
For one, I AM SO FREAKING OLD.
I can’t believe I have a kid in high school.
I met my first love at this age and that information sets me into a cycle of panic like you cannot believe.
I still expect to see this little guy walking in my door from school.
But he isn’t my little Calvin anymore.
He’s 15 next week and holy cow he has grown up.
(Well…he’s physically much more grown up. We’ll work on his maturity levels later. One step at a time, tiger.)
James has begged us for a year (BEGGED) to go to a specialty high school that has an accelerated curriculum that focuses on math and science and by the time he graduates he can be a sophomore in college.
His best friend in the world goes there and he is a great kid. (This is important information as I was never certain that he would ever have a friend to put the ‘best friend in the world’ label on AND because I know that friends dictate a whole lot of how a kid’s teenage years go down.)
I have a lot of reservation and hesitation about this (hello, his mother is an opera singing blogger and his father is an artist and I am pretty sure we passed our math skills down to him) but in the end, we’ve talked to everyone at the school, made sure he has supplemental math classes and tutoring, he feels like he absolutely can, and will, do well there and so…we are letting him attend to see how it goes.
I feel torn about it, though.
I read and hear things from friends bragging about their kids being in the gifted and talented programs and pulling straight A’s and I feel very failure-ish.
It’s tough to admit, but my children have always struggled in school.
Nothing has been easy or gifted or straight A’s.
It hasn’t come easily to either of my older boys, despite the fact that they are very bright and test very well. I need to clarify that my kids are not stupid. Not by even a remote long shot. This is not just me being a loving parent. When it comes to my kids, I pretty much call it as it is. My kids are intelligent but they have personality traits that really get in the way of succeeding in school.
I had the same issues as a kid. (Um, I have the same issues NOW, I can just manage them better.)
I was super bright in many areas. I was reading at a college level in second grade. My twin was reading at a high school level.
It’s why we skipped 3rd grade.
But…I struggled with school, too.
Things like a lack of structure and organization in my nature and an abundance of procrastination mixed in with a fierce streak of lazy really set me back.
It’s part of the reason watching my boys fight the same struggles are so frustrating.
AND I know that I play a part in it.
Because I wanted them to have the things that I lack I put them in an academically fast paced and focused charter school that was high on structure and organization for their entire elementary years. And while there were SO many good things about that school (I heart dress codes, dudes.) and even though I know I made the best decision I could at the time, there are parts of me that regret my choice. I wonder if they would have felt better about themselves and performed better if they weren’t always struggling to keep up with the things that were expected of them there. They were definitely bright enough to handle the work but they have had a really hard time with all the other things that were required of them. Attention, detail, procrastination and things like the amount of energy and time it took to sit focus on their daily homework were issues. Actually turning that homework IN when it was done was also, if you can believe it, a big problem. (I never had that issue. If I did it, you can bet your ass it was handed in for credit! That continues to mystify me.). It all created problems. It’s one reason we decided to homeschool Christopher and why we let James attend the local middle school.
James did well in middle school. He really seemed to come into his own. He took medals in wrestling and his responsibility level really increased. Where he could be 15 minutes tardy to the charter school that is literally next door to my house, he managed to be on time to a school that had him out the door an hour earlier and with a bus ride. But there are times it has also been a struggle. We still had major procrastination and homework issues and it seemed like most terms (most, not all) he churned out good grades, but it was often because he realized he procrastinated and then turned in all of his late work and did extra credit to get his grades up. (Maddening to me. Yet I sooooo relate.)
This school WILL expect more of him. Things like that will NOT slide and while I LOVE that, I have no idea how he is going to do there and like I said, this eats at me.
However, I also know that he’s 15, he has some very good kids as close friends attending that school and I also believe he now has a say in what happens to him. He is asking to go somewhere academically challenging, not to drop out of school to smoke weed in front of the Quicky Mart with Jay and Silent Bob.
So, I said he could try it.
And as far as how homeschooling my middle schooler is going…
I cannot say that last year homeschooling Christopher was a raging success in a lot of areas.
But it certainly wasn’t a failure.
In so many ways, it was absolutely awesome.
I never wanted to just ‘free ball’ it with homeschooling. Heck, I never wanted to homeschool in the first place. But it was absolutely necessary for a whole lot of reasons. My preference was to have a very structured homeschool experience, but all of those options were full and closed last year and I was much more on my own with it than I anticipated. I was significantly busier this year with work, as was Jonathan, and it was just freaking difficult to educate him in a way I can feel really great about. We made sure he stayed absolutely on top of his math and he also did really well with English and grammar, history and things like just learning how to run a house and things you have to know as an adult to live your life. And frankly…he has absolutely adored and learned so much by getting to spend time with his baby brother.
This kid is going to be the best dad in the world some day.
But things like science were lacking. Those are so not my comfort areas and while I wish I could say that I stepped up and learned all about biology, it just didn’t happen.
But, there were an awful lot of positives and so after talking with our son and really batting things back and forth, Jonathan and I have decided to enroll Christopher in a program called Harmony Ed. We’ve talked to a lot of people who love it and while it isn’t quite as rigid as the K12 program, it has a whole lot more structure than what we’ve been doing the last year. There is yearly testing (which I feel better about) and a lot more help and guidance and there is also textbook reimbursement, which is great when you see how much curriculum costs when you homeschool. And he gets to try his hand at learning Japanese, which he has weirdly been OBSESSED with for the last 4-years, so he is over the moon with happy. Plus, we have also re-arranged some things to provide a much better structure and space for his learning this year, which was a huge challenge in this tiny house last year.
Jonathan and I have decided that we will remain watchful and just see how it goes this year.
It’s a bit scary to be ‘experiementing’ with something like my children’s education but at the end of the day, James wants to try stretching himself to achieve something bigger and Christopher still hasn’t quite found the right fit for him. I know it, his father knows it, he knows it.
And I just won’t stop trying until we find things that work for both boys.
And at the end of the day, that over-rides the doubts that I have.
I just have to keep reminding myself that I’m doing the best I can and pray that it turns out well.
Isn’t that what a good deal of parenting is about anyway?
P.S. As far as Aaron goes and our educational plans for him? He just turned two. And the thought of my littlest leaving the nest to go to school makes me want to cry buckets of tears. SO I AM JUST NOT THINKING ABOUT IT YET, SO PPFFFFTTHHH!!!!!!!!