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Encouraging Heroes. You can be one too.

I’ve had the “add new post” window open on my laptop for two days now. I stare at the blank screen, unsure of what to type exactly. I want to tell you about our latest homeschooling…..mess. But it’s messy. I don’t even know how this is all going to turn out, and I’m not sure if I can convey clearly what we’re dealing with.

No, it’s not a life-threatening mess. Many could read this and respond with, “Hitch up your big girl panties and roll, girl.” Others can read this and say that I’m asking too much, expecting too much; that I should accept reality and be thankful for what is here rather than wanting more.

There is an immediate solution, but it’s one that I hate.

The mess: school here is usually a fight. There are rarely days in which all four boys cooperate with the assignments and finish their work so we can all play. Rather, at least one (and usually more) of them has a meltdown over me saying radical things like, “okay, time for spelling.” Granted, life is a ton easier than in years past. Back when the older boys were in first and second grade, we all had meltdowns: them crying over learning their letters and me crying over them crying.

Believe me, I have tried EVERYTHING I could think of to make school more palatable. The younger boys routinely forget themselves and have a great time doing their schoolwork. This is after the crying and arguing and throwing themselves on the floor because of the aforementioned radical speeches coming out of my mouth.

I kept the boys home from public school for many reasons, but the biggest one is that I want them here. I love learning, and watching children learn. Heck, that’s what my graduate degree was in. But this? This is not fun. It’s more like torture. Day in and day out, someone is crying or complaining or arguing.

Click around to some homeschool blogs and you’ll find story after story of how rewarding the experience is, how much fun parents are having with their children, how close they are as a family….how easy this life is. After 7 years of trying, we’re still not there. That’s discouraging. What am I doing wrong? How can I make this better? Why won’t my children accept the fact that they MUST learn? By law, they have to be in school. Period. And yet, they seem to think they can argue their way out of the work. I truly don’t understand. I want to be one of those moms who has fun with her kids and lessons. But I don’t know how to get there.

The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again while expecting different results. This feels insane. And I’m not even doing the same things. I keep trying new things, new courses, new approaches, new deals, new plans, new rewards, new motivations. But we keep coming back to the same old resistance.

And that’s what bugs me the most. The boys at a base level do not agree that they should be learning. They just want to play. I have yet to find ways of schooling that are playful enough to pull them in. And believe me again, I have tried. When I suggest fun things, they immediately shoot the ideas down. Everything new has to be forced on them. When I ask them for suggestions, I get blank stares or mumbles of, “I don’t know.”

So, with heavy hearts last night we told the boys that we don’t see another choice. It’s time to try public school. That’s the solution I hate. Hubby was sick about it too, and the boys ate dinner with heads bowed in near-silence.

None of us want that option.

But what to do? Ultimately, the boys have to decide they want to be here. They have to decide to participate and take responsibility for their behavior. It shouldn’t be me dragging them, kicking and screaming, through their lessons.

Today, I’m supposed to be calling principals to set up meetings to enroll my boys. I’m supposed to be calling the doctor for medical records and booster shots so that everyone’s current and approved for school. So far, I haven’t done it. I don’t know if I can.

I’m still hoping for that last-ditch effort on their part to stay with me. They say they want to be here. Now they have to prove it.

Earnest Parenting: help for parents who struggle with homeschooling.