Excerpt from “Platitudes of Gratitude. ” Homeschooling.

What about homeschooling am I grateful for?

Homeschooling was a completely foreign concept to me when I lived in Philly. I never even heard of it until I moved to Missouri. There were only two options when it came to school that I knew of: public and private. When I moved out to Springfield I did my best to find new friends. This became even more important to me when I learned I was pregnant. I knew it would be good to have a support group of mommies.

As fate would have it, I became friends with a mom of four boys. She was also a pagan, doula, and homeschooler. We never went into her method of teaching or curriculum; she was an unschooler. If that’s your thing, more power to you.

It did spark in me a curiosity. What was this homeschooling thing? Could anyone do it? What were the rules and regulations? I began researching, studying, asking questions.

When I find something that catches my interest I become a fair bit obsessed. My daughter wasn’t even born yet and I had already made the decision; I was going to homeschool her.

I got my share of detractors. Most of them from my family and the Bunny’s father’s family. “How will she make friends?” “Are you sure you’re qualified?” “What will you do about high school?” “Won’t you feel bad about her missing out on things like the prom?”

The question about being qualified always made me laugh. She was in Kindergarten at the time this was first brought up. We were using a virtual online school that was through the public school system. She got the same education other kids going to a brick and mortar school were getting. And I was being asked if I was qualified to teach my daughter the alphabet, how to read, how to write, and how to add. I would have felt insulted but now I look back at the source of those comments. I realize it was lack of education on their part. And even though I tried to share the experiences we had and the things the Bunny was learning it wasn’t good enough and never would be. Although, my father in law enjoyed the pumpkin pie and cranberry relish the Bunny made for Thanksgiving as part of her lessons. That was good enough for him to eat a whole pie himself. But, hey. Whatever, right?

There are so many reasons I’m grateful for homeschooling. We are free to set our times, hours, and days. Learning is not from nine in the morning to three in the afternoon. It’s not just Monday through Friday.

We understand life happens. Yes, we have books and concrete lessons that need to be completed. Projects that need research usually take six weeks. She has a week to finish her lessons. She reads a book a month with an essay due at the end of the month. The Bunny wants to pursue art and since I can’t draw a stick figure with a ruler that’s where we look at Pinterest, apps on the tablet, and videos on Youtube to help her stretch her artistic muscles. This is one of the great things about homeschooling that I love.

This Thursday is Thanksgiving. Part of her social studies and civics lesssons is about immigrants and heritage. She has to research the Native American tribes and the patterns and images that they used in their art, clothing, pottery, blankets, etc. and incorporate that into a picture. I try to incorporate art and story telling in her lessons as much as possible. She learns best that way.

And isn’t that the end goal of education? For the kids to learn. Who cares how they learned it? Flexibility. God, how much do I love the flexibility of homeschooling? If something isn’t working then we find what does.

Online worked for us for kindergarten and fourth grades. Workbooks worked for us in second and fifth grades. I built a curriculum using a series of children’s books for first grade. For eighth grade we’re using box curriculum. We love it.

Again, flexibility. If you were learning a new job, you would take the information on how to perform the tasks, tweak it to how you perform best and still get the job done right. That’s what we do with homeschooling. Plus, there’s no bell at the end of forty five minutes. There’s no need to see the teacher after school. If she’s having a problem with an assignment we both sit down and step by step work on it. I make sure she gets it before moving on.

Is it hard? Yes! Oh my gosh, yes. I haven’t diagrammed a sentence, found the capital of Indonisia on a map, or calculated the velocity of a ball weighing fifteen ounces falling from the roof of a house thirty feet tall in over twenty years. It’s a learning process for us all.

Today I posted a problem on Facebook that I couldn’t figure out. I had people offering to video chat so we could all discuss how to work this problem out.

There goes that socialization question. Socializing is not the same as socialization. Let me repeat that again for those of you in the back. Socializing is NOT the same as socialization. When the Bunny is at her friend’s house she is socializing. When she is playing video games with her step sister she is socializing. When she talks to someone from her old school at the grocery store she is socializing. The fact that she can be out in society without being mistaken for a feral child raised by possums means that she is socialized. Although I have had to tell her not to bite people before but she was two and we never had a problem after the one time.

I love my kids. And there are times when I have thought about dressing them up as bears and putting them by the curb to wait for Paris Hilton to come by and adopt them. But overall I enjoy spending time with my kids. The Bunny and I have the same messed up, twisted, dark sense of humor that scares most regular people. It’s nice to have someone that gets you.

In general, though, I just love having my kids around. Every August and September Facebook is flooded with pictures of parents leaping for joy as their small ones board buses. Commercials raid my television, flashing parents skipping down aisles like it’s Christmas in summer. They’re all so happy. Yay, the kids are going. And the kids looks miserable. I would, too, if my parents were that elated to get me out the house. These are the same parents that cry when Junior goes away to college and doesn’t come home for winter break. “Gee, Ma, I’d love to come home but I remember how happy you and Dad were when I went to school. I don’t want to mess that up for you. Oh! Can you send me two hundred bucks? It’s my turn to buy pizza for the frat.” Those commercials always broke my heart. Even before I had kids. Maybe it’s because my parents actually enjoyed having me around as a kid.

My mom was always doing some arts and crafts thing with me. My dad taught me how to throw a ball and run. My parents were pretty amazing. For them and the experiences I had growing up I am grateful.

Safety is the reason I pulled the Bunny out of school and started homeschooling her again. She has an unusual first name. It’s a name I did not come by lightly. I didn’t just pick it out of a hat. I meditated for weeks asking for guidance for the best name to give my baby goddess. She came with that name and no power on Earth was going to change my mind. Her name was not well received on either side of the family. Family members refused to call her by her first name, insisting on using her middle name. But on this I stood firm. “This is her name. This is what she will be called. If you dont like you dont need to be in her life.”

It’s one of the few things I haven’t let people bully me about. There are people in the world who have adopted her name for their nefarious purposes. And when you live in rural america sometimes kids just repeat what they hear at home. So when your name is vilified, kids in middle school are less than forgiving. You are now the sole owner of responsibility for a group’s actions.

And that’s what happened to the Bunny. The final straw was when a group of kids told her they were going to burn her at the stake because she was a witch and a terrorist. She did not return to school the next day.

I signed the papers. My mom bought the curriculum for me. And I pulled my baby out to keep her safe. I know I’ve tried to do my best to make this a humorous book.

There is no humor in bullying. If you have a kid that’s being bullied, please, I beg you, listen to them. Don’t just shirk it off as kids being kids. Go to the school, talk to teachers and principals. Talk to the parents. And if nothing gets done there is great power in social media and the news. We were all taught that bullying is part of school and there’s nothing we can do about it. That is not true. We can do something about it. But you actually have to DO something.

If you think your kid is a bully, please, for the love of whatever god you pray and believe in, talk to them and fix it. Fix it fast. That might mean dragging your snowflake to the principal’s office and having a talk about his behavior. Do it. Whatever you have to do to make it stop, do it.

Homeschooling may not be an option or a right fit for everyone. But it is for us. I’m grateful for the opportunities in my life that allow me the flexibility, freedom, and ability to teach my babies. I am grateful for the opportunity to teach others about their educational options for their kids. And I’m grateful for the opportunity to bring my Bunny home and keep her safe. I promise this is the most this book will sound like the love child of an after school special and a public service announcement.

I now return you to the train wreck of gratitude that this book is.

Thank you.

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