Friday, March 4, 2011

I'm Not Delusional

How did his parents raise HIM?
Our home school co-op was cancelled for today because of icy roads.  Bummer.  I guess it's a mixed blessing.  I love seeing all the great new friends I've met there.  I was excited about our super saturated salt crystal experiment for science.  The kids anticipate hanging with their friends all week.  And finally, my son did an amazing job in his article for the mythological newspaper!  BUT (and I always have a big "but"), I desperately needed this down time.  Even if it's just for an hour this morning while I let the kids sleep.  I am showered and dressed... and buried in a blanket with a warm cup of coffee watching the freezing rain pummel the kitty litter  bucket that my daughter used to hold up her icicle "sword in the stone."  Yes, that's us.  Hillbilly back yard!

Anyway, I tried something new this week.  It failed.  That's life, I guess.  I thought I would post up a weekly instead of daily chart, filled more with "ideas" than directions.  Um, no, that doesn't work for my kids.  If they aren't given more direct direction they run wild and end up pummeling each other til near death.  I'm thinking I should video tape for a nature documentary... or Supernanny. 

So back to the bulleted list of must-do's for each day, stuck on my pantry door with poster goo.  The list usually includes things like: practice guitar/violin 20 minutes, read something, write something, Spanish homework, watch "Hercules," draw a picture of Laura's house on the prairie, math one lesson, bake cupcakes, etc.  When I turn them loose they usually end up watching a bunch of "educational" films on Netflix and whining a lot.  I'm so done with whining.

I know I seem wishy-washy.  But I had some great advice from a home school guru friend a while back.  You'll find something that works, then suddenly it doesn't work anymore and you have to change it! 

Listen, I used to be a perfect parent with all the right answers about how to raise children.  Then, I actually HAD children.  I've come to believe that there are no right answers in parenting.  No right answers in education.  No right answers in relationships.  It's not a test, it's more like a novel or a poem, subject to its reader and their understanding of the writer and the characters and based upon their life experiences and their personality and the mood they're in at the time and whether the Chinese they had for dinner is making their stomach gaseous and uncomfortable and so on and so on.  We're all faking our way through the novel, hoping that we get something right because there IS no RIGHT way!

There are moments of happiness and laughter, which we hope outweigh the moments of tears and pain.  There are moments of success and triumph which we hope outweigh the moments of failure.  There are moments of contentedness which we hope outweigh the moments of discontent and want.  There are feelings of togetherness which we only hope outweigh feelings of being alone.  We want our children happy and successful.  Heck, I often feel like I'm still figuring out how to have that for myself.  How do we achieve that happy successful child?  No-one REALLY knows.  And if they have it figured out for the hypothetical child... Well, who actually has a "hypothetical" child?

So, is it going to make my son happy and successful if he is taking guitar lessons instead of band class?  Reads about Mark Zuckerburg in Time Magazine instead of Barack Obama in Junior Scholastic?  Has a small group of friends instead of a friend-pool of six hundred?  Takes break dancing instead of gym class? 

Is it going to make my daughter more content and self-assured if she makes dresses in our kitchen instead of collages in art class?  Reads about the science of dog breeds instead of about tundras and rain forests?  Has a couple of really close friends that she plays with a lot, verses a lot of friends at school?  Builds a snow man instead of playing broom hockey?

You know what?   I don't know.  I only know what feels right at the moment.  Even though I'm exhausted a lot.  Even though my house isn't as clean as it should be.  Even though I've sacrificed a lot of my freedom and quiet time to have my kids at home... I think, right now, it's the right thing.

 But I'm not delusional enough to tell you that I'm SURE it will produce happier and more successful children.  That's up to them.