Friday, January 22, 2010

I Wasn't "Called" to Homeschool

People have always asked how I knew I was "called" to homeschool (back when I was doing it with three kids). My answer? I don't think I was called. The truth of the matter is, I woke up one day to realize my oldest child was about four months away from kindergarten and I wasn't emotionally ready to let him go. When did I blink and realize he was five years old? Oh, yeh! It was when I was busy having other children, wiping their noses and hineys, playing store, and reading books with them. I was not an eyewitness to the earth's revolutions that affected the growth of one Benjamin Paul.

This may surprise some people, but really I am one of those "fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants" kind of gals, waiting till the last minute or eleventh hour to plan. (I've improved out of necessity and painful losses of opportunities, and sheer conviction at times, but my natural tendency is to procrastinate, not to plan way ahead.)

So here it was the spring of 1993 and people were noticing I had a five-year-old and what was I going to do with him for school? Strangers assumed I'd say the local public school (which was hideous in our district). Neighbors, close friends, and extended family thought we'd opt for Christian school (but it was too expensive and smacked of legalism). I had only one option left, but knew only one person who was doing it. Thankfully, she was doing it well and knew others who could advise me also.

So the equation of "I'm not ready to let him go" plus "What could be so hard about teaching kindergarten? I've taught him everything else he knows so far" plus "I'm the adventurous type" plus "my other options have 'Road Closed' signs over them" --all of those equalled "Let's Homeschool."

I hate to admit this, but I didn't put much prayer into it. I didn't ask for much counsel. I even balked Paul who was against it but finally relented to letting me try it for three weeks. (That was my idea: "just give me three weeks and see if it works". )

Well, after Day One, I was sure Paul was right. HE was sure he was right. Homeschool was not for me. It made me whine, cry, and run for the hills from whence cometh my strength. It made me think, "What WAS I thinking? Being smarter than a five-year-old doesn't mean I have a stronger backbone than one!" And I also thought, "Whatever doesn't kill me, makes me stronger." Not exactly Godward, biblical mindsets.

My own competitive nature propelled me into Day Two. I would win the three-week challenge, even if I ended up on Valium. The "I can do this, no matter what anyone thinks!" attitude prevailed. For the record, my parents supported me 100%, and for that I am eternally grateful. I had close friends who politely but judgmentally noted that I didn't have a teaching degree. No, I didn't, but it wasn't necessary for potty-training, so I think I can handle shapes, colors, and single digit addition, thank you very much. Besides, I had a degree in something, which proved to me I could stick with something for at least four years.

The Three Week Challenge went so well, I forgot I was a competitor. Each day got better than the one before (at least in my memory) , especially when I stopped threatening Ben/kidding myself that the Big Yellow School Bus was truly an option.
It wasn't; we lived two blocks from the elementary school. Paul admitted on Day 21 that Ben was actually learning and that it was good stuff.

I was loving the close contact with my children. I loved their questions. I loved the "aha!" moments I got to witness. And most of all, I was right beside Ben when he read his first sentence from Hop on Pop. To me, that's priceless. It's like watching your child take his first steps. I wouldn't miss it for the world.

So was I called? No. At least I didn't hear a "calling." Did God use my sin of procrastination for my good? Yes. Was I patient and loving and kind and organized and all that? No way. Did He forgive me, my children, and my husband for our many sins against one another? Oh, yes. Was I confident that I was in God's will? Yes, once I realized that my hindsight was his foresight.


Marie said...

Thank you again for humbly and openly sharing. Again, something we have in common. Home schooling was really the only option for us this year. NOw, I am enjoying it (and by the way, having a teaching degree does NOT make it easier ;), but I don't think I "felt called' either. It was IT. THe only way for us this year; and I'm happy for the opportunity :)

Marie said...

Just to clarify, i didn't mean we have the humility in common(see above misplaced sentence;) I meant the not hearing a call. I'm a mess!

Danielle said...

Loving reading about all your homeschooling experiences!!

Kelly said...

Thanks for this, Zo. It can be another one of those "holy"-sounding excuses, "I don't feel called to homeschool". I gotta say, I don't feel particularly "called" to cook dinner tonight, but it really would be best for my family if I did! When do we ever feel called to do something we don't want to do?