Saturday, January 11, 2014

Parenting Mid-life Crisis

I am going through a parenting mid-life crisis. It probably started a week or so before the school year started. I decided, while Rob was out of town, to put Dema in school. We have always homeschooled. I knew I wanted to homeschool before I gave birth to Parker almost 14 years ago. I love homeschooling.

Parker attended public school for one year, his sixth grade, and it went well. He had not expressed an interest in conventional school, but the middle schools were having an open house and I knew several of his neighborhood friends were going. I thought it would be good for Parker to see what public education was like. He decided to try it. We went week by week. He knew he could quit at any point. He knew we didn't put much stock in grades, but we didn't want him to waste the teachers' time or his own. He enjoyed his year, made lasting friends, learned some things, realized he missed his siblings and being with the family, he decided we were much more efficient with our time at home, thus he decided to homeschool the next two years.

Dema had never expressed an interest in attending conventional school, but I was at the end of my rope. Our best year homeschooling together had been Parker's year at public school. Everything aligned. Josie was older and needed me differently. Dema and Josie could work together better, but I think a huge part of that year's success was no bigger brother for Dema to compare himself to. Parker is four years older than Dema, but he still can't help feeling inadequate next to his brother. Parker is rarely competitive, especially with his siblings, but Dema creates competition and comparisons when they are not needed or healthy.

I decided not to go the public school route with Dema because of his personality. I figured small class size, uniforms, and more structure would make him feel less anxious. We have very fluid days when we homeschool, flexibility is one of the huge benefits, but for a child with OCD it can be a bit torturous. I only had a week to find the right fit for my sweet, sensitive, cerebral boy. Imagine my husband's surprise when I picked him up from the train station and announced that Dema would be attending a Catholic private school. I don't get into religion much on this blog, but I will say that we are not Catholic. We both grew up in different Protestant denominations and we have very different thoughts when it comes to religion.

There are other secular private school options in our area, but for whatever reason, this is the school I was sure would be the best fit for Dema at this point. He is loving fourth grade and his school, even mass and religion class. The kids have all been very welcoming and his teacher has been a perfect fit this year. She has been so respectful of Dema and our family as a whole. I appreciate the caring for community they foster in the kids. Dema is happier and less anxious. Not to say that things are perfect. One of my worries about sending him yo school was that he would be more stressed at home. He has to internalize his anxiety in public and I worried he might explode when he was safely home. This is true, but not to the degree it could be and he seems to genuinely look forward to each day. He could quit at any point, but since we are paying tuition, there is a monetary pressure.

Our formal homeschooling group is going very well for Josie and Parker. This is our second year with this group and it is much more relaxing for all of us this year. I don't know if this is because Dema is doing something different or because it is our second year so we have a better rhythm. It is technically K-1 for Josie and 8th grade for Parker. With high school on the horizon for Parker, I feel the need to go back to my original unschooling tendencies.

Now I want to start a local democratic school. Crazy, but I hope it works out.

1 comment:

the sandwich life said...

so glad it is going well....and think your ideas for a school are exciting!