A Bumpy Ride

I know a few homeschooling moms who, when faced with a child who will not cooperate, threaten, “If you don’t change your attitude / listen to me / do your work / (insert specific request here), I will call up the school and enroll you tomorrow!”

And, for many kids, that works like a charm.

For us, though, it does not work at all.

I know Belly doesn’t hate being home, but there are days when she’d rather get on the yellow bus with her friends and spend the day in a first-grade classroom. I can see her bounding off the bus at the end of the day, full of stories and papers, telling me which child she now wants to have a play date with that afternoon. She’d have a new best friend every week and would probably get in trouble for talking in class.

I’ve tried hard not to ‘demonize’ school. I tell her the hours are a lot longer than what she has at home, and that a teacher will not let her hang upside down from her chair while listening to a story. But, I don’t try to scare her into thinking school is “all bad”, or that teachers are mean. I know that for her, first grade would probably be pretty cool, and she’d slide ride into it easily.

I know all these things because we’ve been there, to some extent. Belly was in daycare by 18 months old, in two-day preschool by three and five-day preschool by four. The plans was that she was going to public kindergarten at five, and she’d be more than ready.

But, then, I started reading about homeschooling and thought it sounded ideal. Far from being isolating, it has opened our world to a new way of life, a new group of people, a new daily rhythm. I would never, ever do this if I truly believed it was harmful to my children either socially or academically.

And, yet, there are those days. . .days when we are so out of sync that I can barely stand to be in the same room with her. When a ten-minute math game turns into 30-minutes of torture. And, before I know it, I’ve said the words. . .

“I’m calling the school tomorrow!”

As if on a dare, Belly shoots back, “Do it! Go ahead!”, and then, a half-beat later, “I know you’ll never do it!”

Later, we’ll sit on the couch and lick our proverbial wounds as we talk. I tell her that, as a parent, I decide what is best for her. That someday she may go to school, but for now, we are doing things differently.

I vow to change my expectations. She vows to change her attitude.

And, on we go to the next day, optimistic that we will soon be in sync again.


  1. SuburbanCorrespondent says

    If it’s any comfort, I dimly remember not being able to stand dealing with my first-born on a daily basis and wishing I could send him to school (not a good option for him, though, so I never did). He’s my easiest kid now. Does almost every single bit of work on his own, no pushing or prodding. Truly, if someone had told me he would be like this, I never would have believed them.

  2. Life As I Know It says

    I respect what you are doing because I know I could never be able to do it. I don’t think my kids would listen to me in a ‘teacher’ kind of way.
    Kudos to you.

  3. heartfull says

    Great post. I think home schoolers tend to feel pressured to present their choice in the best possible light, which makes the rest of us wonder what it is *really* like.

    Thanks for the honesty!

  4. Oh yes I’ve been there. Cole wouldn’t want to go but Paige is the same as Belly. She would say “ok sign me up!”. With Paige she’ll say “What letter is that” So I tell her and she says “no its not!”. Ugh! Then I say “do you want to go to school?” And she says yes!

  5. Whirlwind says

    Kudos to you. I wouldn’t have the patience. In fact, I keep telling myself I need to sign Meenie up for five days instead of three 1/2 days. Maybe it’s the winter, but I feel like I don’t have much patience these days. I love how quiet it is when its just Moe and I those few mornings a week.

    And also, it must be an age. Einey has me ready to pull my hair out at times. Take last night, it took forever to do her (usually 5-10 minute) homework. The reason- she complained and dawdled and complained more. “I can’t to this, It’s too hard” ect. I could live without the attitude that comes with being six.

  6. I consider Belly and 7 to be very similarly behaved kids. That is why when someone asks about you, I say, “She is a saint” because I know I could not do what you do. I know Belly is learning tons at home with you, and sometimes I wish I could do the same. But alas, I have not enough patience for homeschooling. It takes a special parent and special kids to be open to the idea.
    7 is going through pre-puberty, (confirmed this with the pediatrician) perhaps Belly is too. It certainly explain the irrationality and tantrums.

    Keep plugging away, there is only a couple months left in the “school” year right?

  7. Be Inspired Always says

    That statement I try very hard to not say. My boys are 11 and 10 and we just started homeschooling not to long ago.

    Some days I wish they would go back to school, but I also have been seeing alot of benefits from homeschooling them. They are less distracted, they enjoy being home more, they are alot more calm and at peace.

    I find myself handling alot more, needing more alone time, but all in all everything is in more of a balance than when they did go to school.

    We are much happier, especially since my son with the behavioral problems is getting more sturdy and it able to stand on his own two feet.


  8. Every kid does a variant on this at some point, I think.

  9. Oooh…next time she dares you to do it, email me and I’ll send you my number. I can pretend to be the meanest school marm she’s ever heard.

  10. Jozet at Halushki says

    I go back and forth between public school and homeschooling for my own kids. My friend home schools her three boys and does just an amazing job, but she definitely has the odd bad day. On the other hand, I have days when I just shake my head at what goes on in public school and think I should bring the kids home.

    I have threatened to home school, and basically, I usually get a big “Whoopee! Yes!”, lol. The threat doesn’t always work the opposite way, either.

  11. Traceytreasure says

    I learned every swear word, how to roll joints and how to sneak alcohol into school. I even learned how to cut class and not get caught. I’m not proud of anything that I did but I have a diploma and I learned very little in public school. It’s all my fault. I’m not blaming the school at all but my kids are not going to get away with any of the stuff that I did. They will have a childhood and they will learn more than I did. However long it takes them. I think I’m doing what I think is best for them. Homeschooling is not for everyone! Thanks for the great post. Some days just suck! I’m thankful that most days are wonderful!

  12. How absolutely fascinating. Like any number of groups and “cultures” (for lack of a better term, but maybe it’s the right one) that I don’t know a whole lot about, there are occasionally ideas that present themselves to me by smacking me square in the forehead.

    Such as this idea that homeschool parents can use sending the kids off to school as a threat, much like my mother used to threaten to sell me to the Indians. Wild. I can’t even form much of an opinion or reaction to it, too tired and addled… just amused by a little corner of humanity I’d never thought about before.

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