I Want to Go To School

We received our first sincere request to stop homeschooling over Christmas break.  For two days Bailey (age 7) tried to sell the idea of going to regular school to her father and I.  The first time was as I was leaving the room for her to go to sleep, so I kind of put her off thinking it was a bedtime stall tactic.  The second time, though, she seriously wanted to discuss it with both of us.

Of course the reasons she gave for wanting to go to school completely exhibited why she should not do so.  Her first reason was that she “wanted to be normal”.  Because we’ve let her watch too much television in the past, she has this skewed idea of what “normal” is.  And we have no desire to allow her to become “normal” as she defines it, as in “like everyone else”.  I went to school for 12 years and was never considered “normal” by my peers, so just going to school is no guarantee of being “normal” anyway.  And personally, I think that most of the things that people consider “normal” are really rather shallow and self-involved.

Her second reason was that she wanted to have kids to talk to every day.  She seemed a little surprised when we explained that at school you’re not really allowed to talk to the other kids all day, only at certain times.  And even though she tried to act nonchalant, we could tell she was worried by the idea that she could actually get in trouble for talking to the other kids.

Once we told her that they would possibly go over things that she already knew but she would have to just sit there and do it again, she translated that into “If I already know it, then it will just be easy.”  This then became her third reason.  Now her academic schedule at home is far from rigorous, so her father and I felt this attitude was definitely something we do not want to indulge.  Bailey does not handle mistakes gracefully, to say the least, so she would rather avoid something challenging than risk failure.  And I sometimes wonder how a teacher at school would be able to handle the extreme pressure she puts on herself and her agony in failure or if they would even notice that she is always seeking the easy way out.

Of course we discussed some of the reasons with her that we chose to homeschool in the first place.  We also went over some things we didn’t really care for about schools from our own experiences.  She didn’t seem particularly dissuaded by any of our arguments.  We did explain that even if she went to regular school she couldn’t start until August, which kind of took the wind out of her sails.  The argument that finally got to her, though, was when I pointed out how she would miss a lot of time with the Mystery Baby as he/she is growing and developing in his/her first few months.  At that point she conceded that maybe she would wait until 2012.

Now, I am not saying that we would never put any of our kids in school.  We would obviously do it if we had no other choice due to circumstances beyond our control.  But besides that, we would consider it if we felt a school could offer them something that could not be found through other avenues.  For instance, if the school offered a specialized program relevant to a certain child’s career goals, we would consider it.  But it is not a decision that we would make lightly, because of the ramifications it could have on the entire family as well as the specific child.

If anything Bailey’s second reason probably most closely touched on the real issue bothering her.  I think she was intensely missing the social aspects of gymnastics and other activities since we took a break during the peak of flu season.  On the introvert/extrovert scale, Bailey is a rampant extrovert and has been since birth.  She has a basic need to socialize with others.  And the limited range of others with whom to socialize (namely her parents, sisters, and grandparents) has been boring her silly.  Between the cold weather denying her access to her neighborhood friends and our avoidance of organized activities for a bit, she was stagnating.

But now that she’s back in gymnastics she seems to be doing better.  In the past we’ve pulled her out of gymnastics when tee-ball starts, but we may consider letting her do both for awhile as long as time and money aren’t big issues.  And maybe we can arrange to get together with some of our homeschooling friends for playdates or swimming a bit.  I suspect that as long as we are able to fill this need for her we won’t hear anymore about going to school for awhile…except for the usual complaining when she just doesn’t want to do her work.  That is really no different than all the schooled kids complaining about doing their work and how they don’t want to go to school.  The grass is always greener on the other side…

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