Thursday, November 17, 2011

My homeschooling truth.

Here is MY homeschooling truth. Mine- it may not be anyone else's. But I suspect it could be. So here's the deal:

Homeschooling is hard.

Oh my goodness, it got said, and the earth didn't split open? Better not say it again, just in case.

But seriously, why is this taboo? Perhaps I was asking the wrong questions when I talked to homeschooling families. Did I say things in a way that implied I thought the day to day curriculum would be the tedious part? Was that why I was guided to lesson plans as assurance I'd be fine? I'm not sure, but in hindsight I feel like it was meant to be a secret. I just don't see why- something can be hard and still completely worth it. Completely. The torture of getting through that first day of long division was quickly replaced by the high of watching it click, the way Bug then took pride in solving those problems- something akin to letting go of the bike for the first time and watching them go. Telling me how hard it can be wouldn't have deterred me. In fact, the not knowing, the feeling like I was the only one- it was very discouraging. Those first couple of weeks were hard, and I doubted myself a lot. I'm thankful my aunt gave me gentle nudges as she went through it again for the first time in almost a decade, and that my therapist friend kept cheering me on, wanting me to succeed (perhaps as her guinea pig), and that Squid was endlessly patient with my back and forth, playing a very handsome Switzerland. If not for them, I think I may have quit after those first two weeks out of fear I wasn't doing what was best for Bug. Even after all my big talk, my social network declarations against the system, I was scared. The fear that I wasn't doing enough for him, being enough, teaching enough was heavy. I never wanted to stop for my sake. The days I wanted to stop were the days I felt like I was short-changing my child. I was too green to feel confident in anything other than the lessons plans, and he was burning through my carefully charted curriculum so fast I didn't quite know what to do with him. I woke up in the mornings with my stomach in knots about it. I went as far as to call the school he was zoned for. I just wanted. what. was. best. And I did not know what that was.

I'd like to tell you that I now have it all figured out, but I'd be lying. God's grace, time, and a tiny bit of experience now have me in a much more confident place- I do not ask myself anymore if I'm doing the best thing. I am certain that we are doing what's right for Bug in these circumstances. Next year is up in the air- as I said, I just want to give them their best shot, and I'm not too proud to say if that isn't me. But...maybe I also need to be confident enough to say when it is. I'm so sorry that this doesn't wrap up nicely, and I'm sorry if it leaves anyone unsure- that would never be my intention. In fact, I'm hoping that if you happen to be reading this and happen to be homeschooling and happen to have a day where you're tempted to just hide under your comforter and call "in-service", that you may remember someone else has felt that way and survived to teach another day. Here's what I can say: I can say there's not been a second of this school year that hasn't been completely worth it; I can say it is a beautiful thing to behold your child learning in a way that maybe you'd miss if he were in school for eight hours a day; I can say even a quick trip to the commissary can become a lesson, which to me and Bug is just plain fun because we're nerdy like that; I can say he is excelling, and I can say I've been humbled, which I hear is good for you. Oh, and I can also say that I think the teacher should get a Starbucks card for Christmas.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Welcome To Florida

I realize this is coming two months after our arrival, but now is a good time for me to remember, since we got our orders not so long ago, that the chaos does die down, you settle in, and life becomes whatever your new normal will be.

We moved in the middle of Tropical Storm Lee, on Labor Day weekend.

Gorgeous, no?

I would not say we were LIED to about what floor our apartment was on, but perhaps I would say that we were "mislead"- what was made to sound like a few steps maybe up to a porch ended up being an entire level up, over twice the amount of steps we were told about. That is the cost of moving blindly. All in all I love our apartment very much, but I hated it for my father in law and my grandfather, and Squid. Lots of steps, awful winds and tons of rain, and yet everyone was in a pretty great mood. When we first arrived, I left the kiddos with everyone to go "get Squid real quick".

Ha. Right. 

Here's the thing: when your husband has been isolated not just to a military base, but a specific section of that military base save for two or three bus trips out, he is not the person to give you directions to navigate that base. Things he may find distinctive are in fact at every intersection. His base is not a small one. I was almost in tears by the time I finally found him, almost an hour later, only to get lost going back as well. My trusty GPS constantly asserted that the road I was driving on did not exist. Not the best  start! It took little to no time to sort the base out- maybe a week of coming back and forth, but to all who go after me: get a map, get directions from someone who has seen more than 1/5 of the place. You won't regret it. And don't blame your sailor, he honestly doesn't know any better. Try to remember that also when he points you down a road that leads to officer housing and then says over and over "We're not supposed to be over here." Oh my.

We did eventually find our way back, spent the next couple of days getting unpacked and spending time with our families that were so kind to come help us, said our goodbyes to them on Labor Day, and got into the business of truly settling in. The wonderful thing was, it happened really quickly. Once Squid's "Brown Bagger" status- his permission to live at our home and not at the barracks- came through, everything was pretty well as it should be. We spent every single weekend at the beautiful beaches until the water was just too cold to dip a toe in. We saw every kind of animal Bug could dream of, and even had an unfortunate encounter with what his doctor believed to be a man o'war- that part was more of a nightmare...

 All in all though, we've loved our time down here. It's been nice and calm- the opposite of what I imagine our permanent station is going to be- we are heading to the DC area. We are so excited, and I'm ready to embrace whatever comes next. I can always feel secure, wherever we are heading, because after our stint in Florida, I know one thing for sure: home is always- ALWAYS- going to be wherever the four of us are, together.