You need to know that from the day I discovered I was in the family way, as we used to say, I made one statement repeatedly and with conviction: “I will NOT homeschool.” Back then, the only homeschoolers were the oddballs who opted for an alternate lifestyle because they were afraid your worldliness might sully them and their pious godliness. Or, they were preparing for the end of the world in case Y2K plunged us into the stone age. I kept on repeating that “I will not” mantra until the day before we notified his private school that Son #1 had attended for the last time.
Three days after we brought him home, he was diagnosed with a fairly profound learning disability. Good timing, huh? Just so happened that I had worked with students who had learning differences. I knew that my son was a carbon copy of 2 of the more interesting students I'd ever taught. At the time, there was no diagnosis slot for those fellas, so they remained educational and medical enigmas. In hindsight, it is easy to see that God gave me Alan and Tim as students to prepare me for my future as a parent 10 years down the road.
Our K5 experience was amazing. The teacher was the kind you dream of for your K5'er. She knew he marched to his own drummer, but boy did she revel in his journey. 1st grade...well...let's just say the opposite was true. She was a piece of work. The 'best' child in the class lost NINE pounds (she didn't have to lose) between August and Thanksgiving. The doctor said it was stress. No one had to wonder the source. One-third of the class dropped out of the private school before the Christmas holidays. We hung on till Valentine's week.
I woke up that morning and realized I was re-teaching everything they had done at school every afternoon and on Saturdays. We were doing school at home 6 days a week. Yep, we worked on Saturdays...and he was in FIRST grade. I thought, “Why am I torturing us like this? Why don't we just do the work from 8:30a-2p and be done with it?” Then, I realized what had happened. I had become a homeschooler before we pulled the plug.
Over the years, we stopped feeling weird and as tho' we had to apologize for not being cookie cutter people. As more folks gravitated to this schooling choice, fewer people stopped us at the grocery store to ask if we'd been to the dentist that day. We found a thriving community of like- minded educators with more activities than you could possibly participate in. So, I had a ready answer for all those that lamented our 'lack of socialization'. If that didn't cure folks of their skepticism, when Son #1 made a 2 week long trip to China a month before his high school graduation, that battle was over. Mostly.
Doing what all parents do, I still fought a battle in my own mind. I guess it doesn't really matter how you chose to educate or how well your child has navigated the educational and maturational processes. When it is all said and done, we are a bunch of fraidy cats where our kids are concerned. I guess we will wonder till they turn the shovel of dirt over on us whether we were 'good enough' as parents and whether we did all we could do to enable them to succeed. Can we cut the tether and let them fly...and if we do..will they survive? If they don't, how will we survive our sense of having failed them?
Every time I averaged Son #1's grades, I had this odd feeling in the pit of my stomach. I knew I'd never get MY report card till he successfully launched into the wild blue yonder of his own life. If he fell flat, all the naysayers would have a FIELD day. I wouldn't be able to turn around and point my finger at the school system or the government. Nope. I'd have to take it like a woman when everyone, including my own son, ganged up to tell me what an idiot I had been to thumb my nose at traditional schooling.
Not a day went by that I didn't wonder at some point if I was failing him. Should I give up the self sacrifice and drop kick his butt onto the passing yellow school bus, so I could kick back with a cabana boy and some bon-bons? (Just kidding...but not about the bon-bons!) Should I soldier on and trust that God would be Sovereign over any bad decisions or mistakes I made as his parent and his primary educator? Oh! I can break out in a sweat just thinking about it even tho' he is now a junior in college.
If you haven't heard the shriek heard 'round the world, you were in the cone of silence with Agent Smart and Agent 99. It was me. That son of a fraidy cat is getting ready to take flight. And, he is not stopping till he lands in Australia. He will spend his 21st birthday there which makes me need to bite down on a leather strap. Hopefully, Rowdy Yates will be on hand to hand it to me!
|Courtesy Mad Penguin Creative|
For the last 4.5 months or so, he has been negotiating with a company down under. The deal was sealed tonight when they bought his plane ticket and confirmed his hotel accommodations. He will leave the end of this month to consult with them in his area of expertise: photography and photo-editing. His college professors have told him it is the job of a lifetime. They have moved heaven and earth to enable him to make the trip smack dab in the middle of his semester.
His take on the whole thing? “Well Mom, I guess I just gave you a lot of blog material, huh?” Of course, I didn't hear him because I had fainted.
You wanna know the kicker? I am the one that pointed him in the direction where he found the info that put him in touch with the lovely people he's flying over to work with. ME. The fraidy cat with a blog to PROVE it....set this whole heart attack inducing chain of events in motion. WHAT WAS I THINKING? What have I gone and done NOW?
Truly, my hands are shaking so badly that I can hardly type. My breath is coming in huge jerks, and I cannot get enough air. He will be in Australia for his 21st birthday. I hope they send him home in time for our Thanksgiving holiday in November. In between, I hope he has the time of his life. Most of all, I hope he buries any of the fraidy cat left in him that he got from me. Fly, son of a fraidy cat. F-L-Y!
PS...stay tuned for updates. Do not buy paper bags or tissues. I'll need to former for attacks of hyperventilation and the latter for the tears I'm already crying.....
Psalm 139:16 (NLT)
You saw me before I was born. Every day of my life was recorded in your book. Every moment was laid out before a single day had passed.
Jeremiah 29:11 (NLT)
For I know the plans I have for you," says the LORD. "They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.