NEWS ALERT: I AM A HOMESCHOOL MOM NOW.
Let me repeat that, just in case it didn’t sink in the first time. I am a homeschool mom now. We are homeschool people. We were never going to be homeschool people. I mean, never-ever-ever-ever-no-freaking-way-over-my-dead-body-ever.
One of the most commonly heard phrases right now (at least in my neck of the woods) is “the struggle is real”. I thought I got it. Seriously. Two parents with jobs and two kids and the daily crap that goes with that is enough. Add in all the struggles and the emotional stuff and the autism stuff and my school schedule and the house that just won’t quit (breaking)… it was already way more real than was probably healthy. And now we’re homeschool people. I’d love to be able to tell you I’m having all the feelings, but I promised honesty.
I’m almost to the point of being afraid to feel my feelings. My needle is swinging from numb to “Danger Will Robinson!” faster than Mason can say “can I have my tablet?”… actually. No, that’s about the right speed, now that I’m thinking about it. I am frustrated beyond belief. I am angry and disappointed and heartbroken and floating in a mist of uncertainty. To put it bluntly, I’m terrified.
Kaleb has been riding an emotional rollercoaster his whole life. But he was stable two years ago. He was doing well and on a clear path. This is where we introduce the mommy guilt. So many things have probably built up to contribute to this. Our moving, my course load, our jobs and so much more. But really, the last 16 months have just been a downward slide of rejection, disappointment, heartache, and regression because he hasn’t been able to get joy out of the one thing he’s always found joy – learning. He hasn’t felt safe and secure in school, and that’s the one place that he’s always seen as his constant outside of home.
I’m not going into why we pulled him, not yet. It’s too raw and I’m too damn tired to dredge it all up. In the end, what it came down to was Kaleb’s mental and emotional wellbeing. And that’s always going to make even the most terrifying decision an easy one. That comes first. So, we’re homeschool people now.
He’s emotionally regressed years. It’s going to take serious work to get him back to where he was, and then some. I’m talking about almost having to drag my nearly-12-year-old out of the grocery store today for behaviors he hasn’t displayed since 3rd grade.
This is scary as hell for us. How do we integrate socialization from home? The truth is though, right now, we don’t. We help him focus on his mental and emotional health. And we support him as he remembers why he has a love of learning. I know this will be hard, and some serious sacrifices are going to have to be made. But there are bright sides too.
For a start, Kaleb began virtual classes today. In the last 90 minutes, he’s completed over 12% of his entire math course with all A’s (man, you should have seen how pissed he was when he realized he had to start with the number line). He’s happy and shiny and pleased as punch with himself. He’s bouncing in his seat – not the erratic, anxious, picking-his-skin-until-it-bleeds kind of bouncing either. What I’ve got here is the bonafide light, happy, “I’m doing something that makes me happy” bouncing.
Not that it was easy to get him there. First, we had an hour-long argument over why there was an estimated completion time at the top of his list of assignments that he felt was way off the mark because he could do it in less than that time easily, and it didn’t make any sense…. we wasted an hour on this. Something I ended up coloring over with a sharpie while practically vibrating with frustration. We then had a 40 minute struggle over the set-up of the course. It went like this: Me: “click this button, do the lesson, then click that button to do the assignment.” Kaleb: “WHY ISN’T THE ASSIGNMENT RIGHT AFTER THE LESSON THAT’S STUPID AND IT DOESN’T MAKE ANY SENSE AND WHY WOULD ANY LOGICAL PERSON DO THAT AND…”
Do you feel my pain yet? It took everything I had not to shriek that I didn’t know because I didn’t design the damn thing. Only, louder. And more “mommy’s on the verge of a panic attack so just why do we have to fight about this innane bullshit?!” But I didn’t. Shriek. Or have a panic attack.
This is the point where I pause and remind myself that this is exactly why we are homeschool people now. Because all of a sudden he needs an answer to every single thing, every single time even when there are no answers to be had. This isn’t new. In fact, it’s old. Very, very old. This is kindergarten Kaleb peeking through the curtains. And it’s got me completely off balance.
That is really the biggest benefit of this. The idea that we can help to get him back to a good place. Without having to worry about school, we can tweak (and hopefully remove) some of his medications. We can adjust our expectations based on what we are seeing, not the snippets we are hearing. There are good points, they’re just hard to see through the fog.
The truth, as I’ve promised, is that I’m drained. This is just one of a dozen different things that have gone so unexpectedly sideways lately I feel like I’m never going to get a proper grip on anything again. The emotional temperature of these kids is all over the place and it’s got me running in circles with no clear direction. There are so many more unanswered questions than there are answers and so much is unknown. But we’re doing it. We’re homeschool people now.