Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Why is Back To School the Most Wonderful Time of the Year?

Most of the country's kids are back in school now. Parents everywhere seem to be celebrating the end of summer like it's the end of a summer long imprisonment. They've ushered their offspring to the bus stop while humming "It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year". With their kids stuck at school all day, parents seem to be celebrating the fact that life just got a whole lot easier.

I suppose when you aren't used to it, wrangling kids all summer long is kind of an energy suck. Those pesky children are underfoot, making noise, making messes, demanding to be fed. Their presence is just there cluttering up life, making it super difficult to run the simplest of errands or hear the latest episode of Dr. Phil over the clamor.

It's easier to just send them back where they belong, lock them up behind cinderblock walls while they breathe recirculated air and become someone else's problems for at least six hours a day. At least they won't be trashing the kitchen or requiring supervision or running with scissors through the neighborhood scaring little old ladies.

Life is much more peaceful and quiet when the kids are back in school.

I will admit that the neighborhood seems kind of like a ghost town now that all the kids, who were just days ago riding bikes and skateboards and creating a ruckus, are safely tucked away where we can't see them. I'm pretty sure I just saw a tumbleweed roll down the middle of my suburban street. I didn't even know we had tumbleweeds in North Carolina.

While life may indeed be quieter now all those school-aged kids are out of sight and out of mind, I'm not convinced that life is easier.

When my oldest child reached school age, I had just given birth to his baby brother. My mother was certain that my life would be easier once he was enrolled in government-funded kindergarten. I had my hands full with an active toddler and a nursing infant. She was convinced that one less child underfoot would be a huge blessing.

But all I could think about was how difficult life would be if I placed that child on a bus everyday. I thought about having to adjust my schedule and the schedule of a toddler and infant to the biddings of the public school calendar. That I would have to wake to an alarm, dress a tired child, make lunch, and get him off to school all before 7:30 AM while still managing the needs of his younger siblings. And then I would have to stop whatever I was doing when school was over, napping babies be damned, so that I could safely retrieve him from the bus stop. And then there was the possibility of homework. (And a very selfish part of me also realized that the one human being capable of helping me with the business of feeding and diapering and entertaining his small siblings was the school-aged son I would be putting on a bus to sit in circle time and learn colors and shapes and how to be quiet... things he already knew. Except the how to be quiet part. He still hasn't mastered that.)

It might have been the severe amount of sleep deprivation talking, but my brain wasn't convinced that sending my youngest to public school would make life easier for me.

There are so many mothers who, upon discovering that I homeschool, ask me how I handle it all day everyday. To be honest, I wonder how they can do it, sending their kids off, getting them ready, staying on top of things.

I love being with my children and don't mind sharing my days with them, but I also love the freedom that homeschooling affords. When all of my children were homeschooled, we could sleep late and not worry about lunch until we got hungry. We could take spontaneous trips and not have to wait for Fall Break or Christmas Vacation. As a homeschooling mom, I didn't have to worry about grades or teacher conferences or disciplinary records or school bullies. There wasn't any homework to oversee or double check or pester them to complete. I didn't have to keep track of school fundraisers or permission slips or after school activities. I didn't have to schedule my days around bus schedules and early dismissals.

Listen up jubilant moms singing the virtues of back to school, the idea that having your kids in school all day is "easier" is an illusion. You've just traded one set of hard work for a different set. While you're considering me some kind of half-crazed martyr, sacrificing my sanity to provide a decent education for my kids at home, I'm looking at you half asleep in the school drop-off line and thinking, "Thank God I don't have to do that." (I'm just kidding. I'm not really looking at you in the drop off line. I'm still asleep in my bed.) You're juggling your own life while making sure your kids get up at the right time, get dressed in the right clothes, have all the right school supplies, meet the bus at the right time, get off the bus at the right, finish all of their homework and get it turned in at the right time. That doesn't exactly sound easy.

Sending your kids to school isn't easy, I don't care how hard the back-to-school commercials are trying to convince us. I think you already know it isn't easy if you're being honest with yourself.

Just like having them around all the time isn't exactly easy either. But who ever said this parenting thing was supposed to be easy? There isn't a parenting easy button. I know because I've looked everywhere. Even under the couch.

We just have to decide which difficult road is really worth it.

1 comment:

Unknown said...

Either choice has it's pros and cons. Sadly, because we live in a fallen world, there are single parents who love their children just as much as we homeschool parents, have a lot on their plates, and may be more trusting of our Father having their children's hearts than we of our own.