On Twitter the other day, someone posted a series of photographs of parents who were jumping for joy while their children stood by, looking forlorn and ready for their first day of school. While I believe all these images were probably staged, and the children were probably told to look sad while the parents looked overly happy, I know that many parents do feel elated when it’s time to send the kids back to school.
As a homeschooling parent, I don’t get this at all. Sure, sometimes I dream of having a day here and there sans children, which I never, ever get. (Sigh.) But if I had to send my kids away from me every day? All day? I know I’d cry, and I’d never feel happy about it. Of course, I know that there are many, many parents who are not happy because they have to send their children away each day while they have to go to work. I am very sorry for these parents, and I wish our society was more pro-family.
Some parents may have a career they care deeply about, and I understand that. Other parents may not have the temperament to spend all day with children. For many, it may be that they get used to having their weekdays free without any children around, so when the kids come back from school, it’s a striking difference. And I’ve heard that kids tend to unleash their pent-up energy once they get home, so maybe they aren’t as well behaved with their parents as they are with their teachers. I don’t know for sure, but I think many parents have no idea the difference that homeschooling could make in their children.
For me, however, I am used to seeing my boys everyday, I get to watch them learn and grow, and I can’t imagine any other way of life. I get to teach them! What’s more is that we have time to rest and be flexible with our schedule. We have time to go interesting places, and we get to spend quality time together as a family, and we are very close because of that. That is priceless to me, and it’s worth the sacrifices we have to make to live this lifestyle.
Every day I get to hear my boys’ questions, and I get to help them search for their answers. I hear their excitement when they see something new and interesting on the Internet. “Mommy, you have to come see this!” my son will yell to me. “Okay! Just a minute!” I’ll say, and when I can I’ll go look at the weird animal, usually a sea creature, and I’ll act like I think it’s just as cool as they do even though what I really think is cool is their interest and enthusiasm for looking up the creature in the first place.
I am jumping for joy that we homeschool. I’m jumping for joy that I have two well-behaved boys who are each other’s best friend. I’m jumping for joy that we get to spend our days reading good books, watching documentaries, playing and working on things that we’re interested in.
This September we’ll be beginning our new school year, which is just a continuation of last year with a little bit of new stuff thrown in. We’ll start our weekly appointments again, dig in a little more into our books, and we’ll continue to learn and grow. The growing part is going very fast, and for me, I’m jumping for joy that I’m not missing any of it.
SHELLI BOND PABIS is home | school | life magazine’s senior editor. She writes about her family’s homeschooling journey at www.mamaofletters.com.