It has been suggested to me a few times that I consider putting Seth into a public school kindergarten (a year behind his age). And I admit that the idea was initially appealing - so that I could have a bit of a break from all three, and so that I could focus a little more on Matthew's h/school for this year. There's also something about Seth that I know is very resilient and adaptable, and he would likely do well in institutional school once he had adjusted. But after giving it some thought I realized that I can't do that. I just can't. We're home schoolers...at least for the foreseeable future. And we're h/schoolers not because we won't consider any other options, but because we believe it's the best thing for our kids and for our family.
But it's more than that. Seth and Lizzie have been home for only three months, have had a massive adjustment and, although they're doing well given the givens, I just can't see leaving them alone in a classroom at this point, under someone else's care. Both kids seemed to pick up very quickly what school is; I guess because they had a 'teacher' in the transition house before coming home and because the older kids at the orphanage went to school for full days. But in my heart, I simply know that what they need the most is stability at home with family, and an opportunity to grow in their belief that we're here, we're theirs, forever.
But I have a confession. Last week, on the day that my nephew and niece returned to school, I happened to be talking with my sister on the phone and she was enjoying having the whole house to herself for the first time since school broke for summer. As we talked, I was interrupted several times by one or another of my kids having an issue or a meltdown or a need that had to be dealt with at that very instant. By contrast, in the background of my sister's voice, I could hear silence. Blessed silence. And so my confession is this: I was envious. Plain old green. Hugely so. I had a flash of thinking what the heck am I doing? I don't think that I gave voice to my envy so specifically, because no one likes a whiny h/schooler (after all, this is what we have chosen), but I was thinking it: I wanted the house to myself for a whole day...every day. I thought about what I could accomplish: I could work part-time and fulfill those career interests that never quite go away and contribute something financially to ease that load a little; I could have our home so organized I'd never have to hunt for another piece of paper again in my life; and my floors would be so clean that we could eat off of them in a good way. I wanted it badly in that moment, and went so far as to think about what it would take to register the kids at school so late in the game. In just a few seconds of conversation, I'd mentally gone through the whole scenario and had the kids enrolled in our local school.
But then I hung up the phone and looked at my three kids, all of whom had somehow migrated onto my lap in the last few minutes of my phonecall and all of whom happened to be smiling or laughing while they were jostling for position and poking elbows and knees into my softer parts. I thought of the woman I'd met last week while out for a walk and whom I'd thought momentarily that I recognized as another h/schooler - when I asked if she was, in fact, a h/schooler, she laughed at me (long and loud) and said that she'd never in a gazillion years have the patience for that job and that she could hardly wait for the passage of the next twenty-four hours until her three went to school. I remember thinking, as I listened to her and knew deep down that I have no more patience than any other mom, that she would be missing out on other walks with her kids and the moments that come with them. I sighed. And as I sat there with the phone in my hand and the kids draped all over me, I realized what we would be giving up if we stopped h/schooling: this moment...this moment of all three looking at me and laughing at my exaggerated sigh, and with a look of expectation as if to say well, Mom, what's up for today...what're we going to do together today?
"Here's what we're going to do right now," I announced. "We're going to go downstairs to do a bit of cleaning in the school room. Because next week we start school."