Wednesday, February 24, 2010


Monday night left me emotionally exhausted Tuesday. (It is now Wednesday, right?) So what happened you ask? Well, life ebbs and flows and is always changing. For most of us it seems anyway. In my spouse's eyes, it did not seem so with our youngest. Our older girls have moved out for the most part. One still stores most of her stuff in her room and we see her once or twice a week, but being a young adult, working, going to college, she has only to obtain her own home to be completely out on her own. My spouse's mother fell and broke her hip last fall and still hasn't learned to trust her new hip enough to re-learn to walk so she now resides in a nursing home. As for my spouse, his job is always giving him new challenges to learn and grow from. Recently, he was assigned the job of creating a new training lecture that would be used to train his fellow co-workers and possible sold to other departments to train their employees.

I recall him feeling the pressure to make sure he created an easy to understand, easy to read, manual. He knew he did not want to use a PowerPoint format as from experience, he knew that tends to make the audience fall sound asleep. I knew that the last few months has filled his free time with dealing with Medicare and nursing homes, and insurance companies, and taxes, and tons of other things that there are not clearly written rules and regulations on. Life is so much easier to handle when the path is straight and clear. Unfortunately, it seems that the rules for dealing with the elderly, as with government, are purposely made convoluted and abstract at best. My spouse even received the advise of legal counsel on a few of these issues and was advised of the few possible ways to address some of these topics with the lawyer saying that some of these laws are written to be confusing therefore open to being altered to fit the desire of the day of the power in charge of the topic.

I'm not a personal fan of non-clear rules but such is life. So just what does all this have to do with stressful Monday night? As stated above, my spouse has been dealing with many, many, issues, and recently, more then he has ever had to tackle at one time. Along with all these added pressures, there are still the everyday daily tasks of life. Monday morning found him checking all the electrical pathways throughout the house to find out what was causing a breaker outage. (The day before while he was at work, I had lost half the power in the house so to prevent a possible fire, I had to re-route where the refrigerator was drawing power so I could leave those breakers off.)

Now dealing with electricity is interesting. My spouse knows his stuff. While he was working, he involves our son so he can learn. My spouse has always taught the kids everything he does, hence how we have a young lady for a daughter who knows how to work on her vehicle's engine, brakes, tires, and knows how to weld, too.

Monday night...Monday night found my spouse seemingly upset with the youngest. I can't really say why, as I'm still somewhat unsure, but it seems that my spouse was resentful over what appears to be the youngest having a life of leisure. I'm the parent who has for the most part, over seen the children's education. Gross total, I've got over forty years of combined dealings on this topic! Oh my! There's a reason one should never combine one's numbers as gross totals, so let's just say I've been dealing with childrens educations for near the past twenty years.

I'm a curious sort, so I was reading all I could before I ever conceived my first child. I knew what to expect; the milestones, the resources available, the old ways and the new. I thought I was prepared. The private school was easy to deal with and provided an outstanding education for our daughters. When the girls switched to public school, I learned one had to fight to obtain a decent education. The public school wasn't designed for the student. We were deluded to believe that if your child could attend an 'A' rated school, then the child would receive a top education. Then our baby boy reached the age to take his turn and we learned differently. I'm not going to bother repeating all that transpired more then to say this child is who sent me looking deeper for other paths.

In the past, my spouse had mentioned homeschooling. Homeschooling would allow us to be free and travel whenever we wanted. I never gave it much thought as the private schools never restricted our traveling and the girls loved going to school and did well in school. The baby boy did well in school educationally, but it didn't take long to realize that he already knew the information prior to the school 'teaching' it and he only regurgitated it for the grade if I paid him for said grade. Otherwise, the grade meant nothing. This child and the school setting with age like peers was a bad mix so I pulled him home and set out to learn all I could about homeschooling. I remember my spouse referring to me as having the tenacity of a pit-bull. I can't say I was thrilled with that description but I understood his meaning. I was going to learn what our son needed.

Many of you know that I learned of unschooling and it all just made so much sense! I talked to my spouse about all that I learned and he pondered it. He wasn't so sure of all I was telling him but I was stubborn and stuck to the course. It's been over four years now and in my personal opinion, our son is doing well. Then Monday night happened.

To hear my spouse's side, he would tell you it's been brewing for much longer then one night. He feels that our son does nothing. I don't see it this way, but then again, I'm constantly reading at the unschooling sites so I have a different concept of "doing nothing". My spouse wants to impose his new rules. Bed by such and such a time. No food after such and such a time. You must accomplish such and such each day...yada, yada, yada.

Now, I'm not unsympathetic to what my spouse is getting at. I just don't see it the same way on some of these points. Our son has been living in his own natural rhythm and has been a much happier person for it. He sleeps late because there is no demand to force him up. He's always up and ready to do things with me when I get home. He use to be up and ready to do things with his dad, too, but then dad got really busy dealing with his own mom, and stopped being available so much. The girls ebb and flow as to when they are stopping in between classes, visits, laundry or whatever, but there is no demand for a certain young teenager to be up and running at any particular hour. The couple of virtual courses he attends, can be signed on to whenever he chooses, twenty-four/seven.

This all being said, my spouse was having issues over this lifestyle and Monday night made the threat of our son either 'doing something' or being put back into school. I don't do idol threats well. I wasn't very happy over this and really needed to figure out just what was setting my spouse off on this topic. The sad part came when I hugged my son good night and he whispered that when dad's not home, he really missed him and wished he was, but when he was home, he wished he wasn't.

A paradox. A sad and unfortunate paradox.

When I woke in the morning, I still wasn't very happy. As I prepared for work, I spoke to my spouse and suggested he follow through on his threat. I suggested that he take our son over to the school at the time of all 1600+ kids being in the halls and go talk to the school about just what would be required to re-enroll him back into the system. The look my spouse shot me! I informed him just to take our son there and inquire not enroll him. I knew they would want a current bill of health, paperwork filled out, I've heard of possible testing but didn't know if this school would require it, but I also knew that they would have to accept him. The going theory is many schools will test the student, then subtract five from their current age and that's the grade they are placed in regardless of test results. I also suggested he not mention unschooling as the school would have enough issue over 'homeschooling' without venturing into understanding 'unschooling'. No sense wasting ones breathe on that topic. He told me in general, he doesn't go into unschooling for exactly that reason, but he does explain it when someone is genuinely interested which usually occurs whenever someone meets our incredible son.

So they arrived at the school early but not early enough to see all the kids in the halls. My spouse received the needed paperwork, which included two different health certificates or proof of shots and vaccines. They spoke to a counselor who asked questions on what our son has studied. Upon being informed of the two virtual school classes for sixth grader, she informed them that our son would qualify for seventh grade as the kids in this school's seventh grade, were just learning the stuff covered in the virtual school's sixth grade! Don't even get me started on my thoughts on THAT topic. Have I mentioned my son's opinion of the virtual classes?

Needless to say, I don't look at sending my son back to school as something that would be done for an 'education'. The school is even further behind then it was years ago when our girls attended. No, sending our son back to school would only be to have him out of the house, to occupy his time with 'something', in lieu of him hanging around the house 'doing nothing'. It would give him the chance to interact with that 1600+ young teens that I already know he has little interest in interacting with. As for how he would do? From my daughters switch from private school to public, I doubt he will do well. Partly because he isn't interested in impressing them and partly because he hasn't had their system beat into him. My daughters found that since they hadn't been shown the public schools way of doing things, they had some adjustments to make. They also learned that the teachers had no desire to show them the system preferring to just dole out 'F's for non-compliance.

What I found most interesting was the lack of interest in actually speaking to my son. The school had no interest in the fact he has a very high IQ, proven by their own testing. They have no interest in the fact that per their own system, he has already been placed into their 'gifted' program having had an IEP written up for him to attend their highest offered classes. No, should he be sent back to school, he would be place in the 'regular' classes. I say 'regular' because of my past experience with fighting with this same school over my daughter's placement. Regular means in a class with many kids who can barely read and few who can handle simple multiplication and possibly a little division if one is lucky. Per their own words, the last statement is true. They stated that when their students are placed into the same virtual school my son was in, that their kids fail as it's too hard!

In speaking to my spouse, I learned he had already set up the doctor's visit to get the forms filled out. It was already past time for our son to have his yearly physical, so two birds with one stone. I suggested that we start our son back this coming Monday which seemed to surprised my spouse. He was unaware that I had already spoken to my son and figured that dad would offer some sort of deal. Some things are predictable. I just wasn't sure exactly of what the deal would be. The deal turned out to be that my son could continue to unschool at home if he returned to learning a musical instrument or wrote a book.

Wrote a book? This coming from a man who had recently struggled over writing directions for an item he used on a regular basis. My spouse's defense was that our son needed to produce something. So last night I set out to help our son get started while, also, preparing him to return to school.

I looked over quick reference sheets for the terminology or 'schoolese' he would be expected to know or laughed at for not knowing. As our son has recently started learning to play Magic the Gathering card game with his sister, I knew he had been intensely researching the subject. I was also aware that his other sister had recently posted a great reference link on her Facebook account for how to write a twenty page paper. Pulling all these resources together, my son sat down and got started writing that book. Now, dad never said how large of a book had to be written. Loop holes. At first my son started to panic over the concept of diving into writing a whole book but I re-iterated the above fact. Just because the word 'book' makes my son picture at least 500+ pages, does not mean that a book couldn't be much less. I suggested he start with a 'Beginner's Guide to How to Play Magic the Gathering' aimed at instructing his father and/or me in how to get started. I counted that he had about four days in which to produce this book as he would need the fifth day for his dad to read it and or accept it as 'payment' to stay home, for if it wasn't acceptable, he would be back in school on the sixth day.

As my son was getting going on his writing, my spouse came in and asked our son to come outside and help him build a new stall. It turns out that my son told him couldn't because he was working on something I got him started on and he was under a time crunch. My spouse then came and asked me what I had him doing as he had wanted his help with the stall. I told him that he wasn't doing something for me, but he was working on that book for him. The young man only had a few days in which to earn his right to stay home and he was more then welcome to go help outside but that would greatly reduce his time to complete his part of the deal. At this, dad went outside and worked on the stall alone.


jugglingpaynes said...

If anyone can do it, I would say your son can. I once read a passage in one of the "Don't Sweat the Small Stuff" books that might help. A writer who was used to writing short stories said she didn't know where to start to write a novel and was daunted by the idea of a huge book. The author's advice to her was to think of each chapter as its own story, she would simply be using the same characters each time. Good luck!

Peace and Laughter,

Vicki said...

George had his manual finished by Friday. Dad accepted the work so George is off the hook at being forced back to school by dad. The interesting part about this is after all the discussion about returning to school, George has decided he would like to return at the beginning of the next school year just to see what it's all about. He knows I would never make him stay if he doesn't like it, so I'm fine with him giving it a try. We'll see how he feels come August. =)