This week my parenting duties will include flying across the state to meet my youngest son at his apartment and help him get the heck out of Dodge. He’s already moved the bulk of his belongings out, so there isn’t much packing left to do or moving of heavy furniture. In fact, I think we’ll be sleeping on sleeping bags, his apartment is so bare. I’ll again have a couple of days of no cooking :-), but I will be doing some major cleaning. I’m thinking that’s what the paid airline ticket is a trade off for. I don’t mind. It means I get to spend about 48 hours with one of my kids all to myself. What’s cleaning out a fridge and vacuuming a couple of rooms, and oh yeah, scrubbing a tub and toilet 😦 when you compare it to spending time with your son?
And the last nine hours of our time together will be the road trip home. The last road trip he and I took was a six hour leg of a ten hour drive when he graduated from college. I split the drive between his vehicle and my hubby’s. The three of us caravanned, stopping midway to drop off items for said apartment which he is now moving out of. That wasn’t even a year ago and now he’s getting transferred back to our area. Yippee!
Can you tell, yet that I like being around my kids? Don’t all parents? I would hazard a guess that most parents do enjoy spending time with their adult children. I enjoyed them as kids, too. It used to grate on my nerves when moms would talk about not being able to wait for school to start up again. Now, I’m no saint. There were plenty of times when I needed time away from my kids and they needed time away from me, but for the most part I did not like it when they went back to school. Sure there was time to clean, run errands and do some reading, but I missed them. I missed the noise, the toys scattered on the floor, the snuggles on the couch.
Even with this attitude, there was an adjustment when we started homeschooling. I know, I know, homeschooling should be a Tuesday post since it has to do with Education, but I won’t get into the educational aspect of homeschooling. I’ll save that for a Tuesday, not next Tuesday, I promised that next Tuesday would be about going to college at the age of 50, it’ll have to be the following Tuesday. (Must start list of topics and dates I’ve promised them!)
Our main reason for homeschooling was because our six year old was having a hard time being away from home. There’s absolutely no reason to send a six year old off into the world if he isn’t ready for that. Our nine year old was excited about homeschooling and had actually asked to be homeschooled. We gave our eleven year old the choice of homeschooling or staying in school. He chose homeschooling. My goal that first year of homeschooling was just to survive being around my kids 24 hours a day, seven days a week. And we did it. We survived and thrived. Our homeschooling journey encompassed a variety of techniques evolving every year. We began with a modified “schooling at home” version and progressed to “unschooling” and even had an experimental year in public school for my youngest son. That was interesting. He had asked about going to 2nd grade and I pointed out all the negative aspects of going to school that maybe he hadn’t thought of. You know, standing in line to get a drink of water, having to ask permission before going to the bathroom, being stuck inside a classroom for hours at a time when you really wanted to be playing outside.
He asked again the summer before 5th grade, so we took a tour of the local school. I didn’t bother discussing the negatives again. We just checked to see what requirements they might have before he enrolled. He told me, “Mom, I know you’re not crazy about me going to school and that’s fine. But I do want to try it at some point and if I don’t go this year (5th grade) next year will be middle school.” He let those words, “middle school” hang in the air. There was no need for him to plead or beg me to let him go to school; he knew how I felt about middle school, a breeding ground for bullies, cliques, and illegal drug use. We signed him up for elementary school the following week.
By the middle of his experimental year of public school, he no longer was enamored by it, but he is one of those people who finish something they start, they see it through to the end and he persevered. He was happy to return to unschooling at the end of 5th grade and had a very difficult decision to make when three years later his twin sister wanted to go to high school. He’d been there done that and no longer felt intrigued at the aspect of going to school, but this was his twin sister. If he didn’t go to school with her, who would look out for her? We explained that she would be fine, he did not need to go for the sole purpose as her protector. No, he decided that he couldn’t let her go without him.
And guess what happened? During the fall semester of their third year of high school, while taking dual credit classes (classes given by the community college that give you college and high school credit) my daughter realized that she was over high school and enjoyed the college level classes more. She asked if she could drop out of high school and concentrate on college. My answer was of course, “You know the answer to that.” As a homeschooler, my children all learned that they are the architect of their own lives, that they can do whatever they set their sights on. So, she dropped out and switched to the community college. After a year and a half at community college she transferred to a university and got a degree in education in three years, graduating a year before most of those high schoolers she left behind.
Meanwhile, my son, her twin brother, the one who finishes what he starts, the one who didn’t really want to go to high school, but did to be there if his sister needed him, yeah, he knew he could drop out and switch to college, but it didn’t feel right to him to quit in the middle. He kept with it, took all the dual credit classes he could, took an additional college class in the spring of his senior year of high school and graduated with only four college hours less than his twin sister and all this while working part time at a marine boating store. He took a couple more college classes the summer after high school and was able to go to college as a junior and graduated with a mechanical engineering degree in 3 ½ years.
He’s the one who’s buying me a plane ticket to help him clean his apartment. She’s the one who I helped last week get ready for her new class of kindergartners. So what is the lesson from watching these twins take different paths? That everyone is different. That everyone should listen to that inner voice which is telling them what they need, what they’re comfortable with, what their goals are. As parents, our job is to be supportive, to meet their needs when they are young so that they become confident, independent individuals who can think for themselves. I love my kids. I love spending time with them. I love seeing the adults they have become.