A Ten-Year-Old Guiding Homeschool...
Updated: Dec 27, 2022
Can my ten year old really be a guide?
I never thought my ten year old would be my guiding light through my life but he is definitely doing that for me.
He reminds me to keep what is important at the forefront. It usually comes through his behavior, not an ideal way to guide me but an effective one.
I have been trying to find other families that homeschool. One of my main goals is to ensure my boys (and I) do not feel alone during this process. Everyone that wants to give me advice has said this can be a lonely journey. I have anticipated others’ fear and somehow made it my own. And in this process, I have been pushing to find a community.
But Zander has been resisting wanting to go places, to meet people, to be around others. I have been pushing him to do errands, go to the Y, go to the library, do other things with other people.
He just wants to stay at home. Not go to the Y, not do errands, no do anything.
So…I’ve decided I need to stop pushing.
I need to allow my kids to lead and observe what they need. I need to stop letting others’ fears become my own. This is all new to me and I have listened to others again. The one thing I wanted to avoid.
But this is so much easier said than done.
One day before I had this epiphany, I had a full on meltdown, not unlike Zander.
We had committed ourselves to a Classical Conversations open house. We were going to go observe a community of people and potentially look to join.
I had felt in my heart this co-op program would not be the right fit for us. It is very traditional and I do not want something that looks like school. But, I had been invited by a potential new friend and I saw this as an opportunity to find more families whether we joined or not.
So, I told all the boys our schedule for the next day to try and avoid any meltdowns. It totally backfired on me. Instead, the meltdown happened that evening. For hours.
When bedtime came, Zander was bothering his brothers, acting hyper, refusing to go to bed. He had many odd behaviors and they were all disruptive and opposite of what our bedtime routine usually looks like. I argued with him, tried to force him to bed, tried reasoning with him, and then eventually reverted to yelling to try and control him.
Instead of continuing my irrational behavior, I told him I was going to bed (at 11 pm) and told him he could do what he wanted. I had given up trying to force him to go to bed.
Instead of coming to bed, he went to the living room and sat behind the couch. He eventually called for me (after not much time) and he asked me to come help him. We then rocked and talked about what was going on.
If I had just allowed his emotions and tantrum to be, it may have been over much sooner. Instead, I tried to control it, like I have done in the past even though I know this doesn’t work. I felt the familiar pressure to get to bed at a certain time, as we were supposed to be at Classical conversations at 9 am.
In the morning, I listened to myself and my intuition. I sat and cried to myself. I made a decision to stay home, let them sleep. I knew my emotions were all over the place and if we tried to go, it would not go well.
In the past, I would have woken them anyway. I made a commitment. It didn’t matter if we were all exhausted and drained. I said we would be there and I would follow through.
Not this time. I was going to make sure I did not continue to follow others' ideas of what we needed. I was not going to listen to the societal pressure of doing what was expected or what I was supposed to do.
I felt like I was letting Josh down. He saw this as Zander getting his way and I was giving in to his tantrum. Zander didn’t want to go, now we weren’t. Maybe he’s right. I knew I would struggle to tell Josh we were staying home, knowing he believed Zander did this to get his way. And understanding we would probably have another conversation about this later. We already disagreed about what should be done and I did not want to go against him too.
It was one of the hardest things to do: listen to my intuition and what I needed, what the boys needed and just stay home.
I felt like I was letting down a potential new friend. She didn’t know me and now she would see me as someone flaky who could not follow through. I texted her to let her know we would not be coming. Even though I have only met her once, I still felt a need not to disappoint her.
I cried because I was letting a part of my old self go. A girl who ensured everyone was happy but herself. Following everyone else’s expectations and not asking herself what she expected.
But I did it. I felt so many things. I was already emotionally exhausted but I had not learned my lesson fully. I had committed Zander to archery later that day and wondered if I would face another situation of him not wanting to go. But, I persisted anyway.
Z sat on the floor sobbing when I told him it was time for archery. Repeating ‘I can’t go back’. I did not have as much sympathy/empathy for him this time around because I was already low on patience.
He told me earlier he knew if we had a long night, we would not go to the Classical conversations. I appreciated the honesty he was showing me but felt hurt still. My kiddo had manipulated me and taken advantage. It never feels good.
It is difficult to write this and allow the world to see. But I also know nothing will work if I force him. He is a human being and so far has proven he knows what is best for him. I am trying to trust him just like I am trying to trust myself. School and society has made me question my intuition so much I have to work to do both.
So here we were; in another situation where he was refusing to go.
But this time, I didn’t have the energy to make him go and knew even if I did get him in the car and to archery, it wasn’t going to go well. Not for him, not for the teacher. He would be sad; I would be angry with myself for forcing him and I’m sure his demeanor would not be one of a happy person.
So, we stayed again.
This time though I needed a break. I needed to clear my head. I went for a walk and called my friend. She was the one that brought a new perspective and gave me reason to contemplate what I was really doing. She opened my eyes to another perspective….
“Why does he have to go places? Why are you trying to go places?” she asked me.
“I guess I don’t know… so we find a community I guess.” was the best answer I could come up with and it seemed like a logical one.
”Meagan, I think you are trying too hard to still make this look like school,” she gently replied.
Tears immediately pricked my eyes. I was trying so hard NOT to make it look like school, I found myself in the loop again. I knew she was right because I would not have felt it so deeply if it was wrong.
I was not slowing down to allow my children time to rest.
I was not allowing us to deschool ourselves. I obviously have no idea how to do this or I would be.
There is still unknown pressure and expectations I place on myself so my kids are still doing something - some kind of learning.
But, I know I just want to live.
And I know through living will come learning.
So I am going to try and just live.
I have given up pretty much everything and anything that is ‘school’ within our house. We read each day and they have a math app game.
Other than that, our goal is to play, go outside, and care for our bodies.
I am so thankful for my friend who was able to give me another perspective. To give me permission to allow a child to start deciding things for himself. She helped me realize maybe I will be able to raise children who do trust themselves if I allow these decisions to be made by them.
I struggle every day to remind myself of my goal to just live. I am actually going to need to give myself permission - permission to live however we want and worry about ‘school’ another time. By doing this, I hope to forget what it is supposed to look like and start creating something we have never seen. Or I have not seen.
None of this would have happened had we not had these difficult moments and meltdowns. They have been painful, difficult, exhausting. I have wanted to shove them away and just make him do what he is told, what he is expected to do. But we’ve done that for years; it’s not working. I have witnessed it over and over in the school system and it is really not working.
Zander has become my guide. Telling me to slow down more. Every time I think I have slowed down enough or become more aware, there is more to learn and less to do. If we are doing too much, I will know loud and clear. It is so hard to get out of this school mindset of going, going, going. Even if I only want to do one thing a day plus math and reading, it could be too much sometimes. It sounds like nothing compared to what school asks our children to do. We are detoxing from this system and starting to understand how much we used to shove into our days. It is incomprehensible - there is no comparison.
We must trudge through this time. I must rest. It is still one of the hardest things to do.
School made me into a go-getter. Someone always on the run, always busy. And even though I have worked for years to unbusy myself, I am still not resting or rested.
So even though this is all difficult to endure and understand, I am listening. I am open. I am following Zander’s lead. It may not be a traditional route but nothing about this experience follows that path.
The dream to be with my family is about freedom and who knew my ten year old would be the one to remind me, again and again of this. He is showing us lessons outside of the school mentality, something way more important. These lessons can be learned anywhere and by anyone.