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Tuesday, March 17, 2015

The Case of Home vs School

It's not helicopter parenting. It's "raising" teens.
When I'm driving her to school and she's 20, talk to me about "helicopter" parenting.
The reason I've been quiet here has been, I've had a lot going on with the Wild Things. Babygirl is doing great in college but isn't super-motivated to get her driving license. I'm playing Mom taxi, which, I know, is "enabling" a bit, but I'm ok with that for the time being. We have some great conversations in the car. 

Beyond that, she's a high school senior going to college. She's right on that cusp of adulthood, when so many people seem to advice shoving them out of the nest... but she's still my Babygirl, and while she's quite mature in some aspects, she's not fully grown. Watch an eagle teaching its young to fly sometime. They don't just shove them out of the nest- they take them on test flights a few times, before dropping them and forcing the eaglet to use its wings. 

Thing1, as you may know, has had an oppositional relationship with the administration of our school district nearly from day one. It's a long story, one that I will likely blog about at some point, but this week it came to a head. The school has given him a choice: Return to school after 3 months out (due to anxiety issues) and fail the 9th grade, with the threat of a PINS report, (persons in need of supervision- basically parole for juveniles), or homeschooling. 

We're going with option 2, since I don't think it's going to help his anxiety or his education to be labeled and treated like a disciplinary problem at this point. So yeah. 
It's time we busted out. 

This is huge guys. There's more to it, of course, than I'm sharing. I have to balance the storytelling instinct that all writers, bloggers included, are driven by, with respect for my son's privacy. He knows that I blog about these things, and he understands that I share out of compassion for the other parents I've met through our travels, who are facing similar challenges. Many feel overwhelmed, like David facing the Goliath of public educational law. 

This David is retiring from the field. We're turning back the clock, and going back into homeschooling. It was HARD the first time around. It was challenging and overwhelming. I wasn't sure either of us would survive it. But...

For a few short years, I saw a change in my son. I got back the outgoing, motivated, happy kid he was before his entry to public school. He got into woodworking and refinished several beautiful pieces of furniture. He started playing guitar. He discovered Minecraft and built worlds out of nothing, along the way learning redstone, a complicated version of electricity that allows players to create amazing machines, lighting systems, and other mysteries within the game. His intelligence and spark came out and I saw him GLOW. I want to see him smile again. I want to hear the excitement in his voice when he discovers something in science, or solves a complicated math problem. 

I want to see him smile again. 

This isn't just homeschooling guys. This is a journey, a quest. I'm going to get my son back. 

Wish us luck. 


  1. Mary (the other Mary... hopefully you know which one)March 17, 2015 at 7:33 PM

    Well, for once I will be brief. At least, I intend to be. lol Ya, it's time to busted out. Although I don't see him often, I want to see him smile too. As you probably know, your story resonates with me on many levels. I admire you for deciding to stop "fighting" the system. I do know you were trying to reach common ground and come to a solution that would be best for him. What I mean is that he has been wronged and you have gracefully decided to homeschool which is best for him given their alternative. Fair? No. Legal on the school's part? In actuality, absolutely not. ok, I see that I have failed to be brief so I will quit while I am ahead. Hugs to you and both of you deserve a huge pat on the back. I know, you aren't looking for that. But, you both rock. :)

    1. Honestly I'm just tired. Tired of the constant anxiety and worries...

      He's started doing math through Khan Academy, and today I got super-excited texts:

      "There's a Harry Potter reference! And a Fallout reference!"

      It's great to see him get that spark for learning back. I know this was the right choice for us.

  2. Good luck on the home schooling, I hope it works out. Sounds like the best option, kids are mean and being labeled isn't going to help his education. Best of luck :)

    1. Thanks!

      I do intend to blog about this more in the future. I'm seeing a trend in our local district- kids with challenges like the ones my son faces, who aren't discipline problems, but who deal with mental health or other personal challenges, tend to get shuffled to the side. The school just doesn't know how to deal with them. If it's not a developmental disability, they don't have a framework in place- there's just no niche for kids like my son, no room for him in the square, rigid structure of the public school system for his roundness.

      Ironically, he doesn't have a problem with the other kids. He has lots of friends and gets on fine. He likes his teachers, too. The problems stem from performance anxiety. When he gets overwhelmed by a challenging problem or, much more frequently, but a too-large project or pile of work, he freezes up.

      One of the skills we'll be working on is learning to tackle big projects and break them down into manageable goals.


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