Well-balanced young people, especially those who are venturing into the world of adulthood away from home, tend to ride roller coasters rather than rockets. While this is extremely stressful, for them and for their families, it is actually a much better mode of transportation than rockets. Sometimes it may feel like the roller coaster simply goes in an unending loop, but unlike the rocket, the roller coaster remains on a sure track. Rockets on the other hand shoot off into space and seldom land gently back to earth. The chance of crashing or burning up on reentry is much greater than the chance of roller coaster derailment.
As a parent who chose to homeschool her children, I have faced more opposition than support in my decision. With the public or private school options there is no guarantee that the children will succeed, but there is a greater notion that utter failure will be less the parents fault than the systems fault. With homeschooling, from day one, there is the fear (more often the public’s not the parent’s) that the children will be socially inept, and the blame will rest solely on the parents. Homeschooling takes years and therefore the parents live with this worry for a long time; a worry that accompanies the worry that all parents share, the worry of a child rocketing wildly through life only to crash and burn on landing.
My kids are now off on roller coasters of their own choosing. Some days are filled with thrill and excitement, other days make them queasy. Failure and success now rest on their shoulders and their choices. They have already recognized that mom taught them well, and they know that they must now build on the foundations learned at home. Their roller coasters of life take them up and down on an undulating path, sometimes fairly extreme in its course. Over time, their course may smooth out and be less extreme, but maybe it won’t. Only time will tell. In either case as long as they do not derail, they will not crash and burn.
As for me, I am finding the job of mom different these days but strangely familiar. While the work is never done, the 24-7 routine is no more. I can’t track their every move, success, or failure. I can’t share every joy or pain. Sometimes this is a blessing and sometimes it doesn’t feel so much so. Yet, early this morning something dawned on me – I succeeded. I ran the race, did the time, and persevered to the end; not to the end of their roller coaster ride, only to the end of my homeschooling ride. The questions, well-meaning concerns, and downright rude comments from friends and strangers about socialization have stopped! Why? Because like any other human, my children must now blend or standout among the human mass of diversity we call society. The skills they learned outside the classroom, as they mingled with people of all ages, are helping them find their way. Amazingly, they are finding that they have less bad habits than their contemporaries, and I am not speaking of the bad habits like drugs, etc. I am speaking of the habits learned in the classroom: regurgitating rather than thinking, seeking the grade rather than the knowledge, and working the system rather than the task. Added to these habits are the learned anxieties that come from a system that puts monetary and popular success above the health of one’s body and mind.
Today as I write, my children are riding their roller coasters, and while I still stress over their journeys, they have shared with me their gratitude for the lessons I taught them. Lessons which have helped them stay in the tracks rather than derail. Certainly, they have long lives to live and there are no guarantees, but it is a comfort to know that my journey as a homeschooling mom, with all its bumps and bends, was a successful roller coaster ride. I did not derail, crash, or burn.
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