I’ll Never Homeschool, My Kids are Fine, & Other Parenting Certainties That Have Gone Toe Up

When I tell you that I had no intentions of entering my family into any form of homeschool whatsoever, I feel like this is basically the understatement of the century. Not only was I not planning on taking them out of public school, but I was fiercely against it. A handful of the reasons for that unwavering conviction (***unwavering until it utterly crashed and burned) are listed below. Feel free to raise your hand if any of these sound familiar. Also please note that I can’t see your hand, so maybe pretend like you are waving to someone across the room so you don’t look like a total weirdo randomly raising a hand.

I’ll never homeschool because…

  • Public school reflects reality.
  • For the most part, our children make good grades and are being taught the appropriate curriculum in our schools.
  • We like our teachers and the school administration, we don’t have problems with any specific families or kids, and we are zoned to one of the best districts and schools in the state.
  • Children need social interaction with their peers, and hanging with a sibling 24 hours a day simply doesn’t cut it.
  • We cannot put each child in a bubble, and pulling them out of regular school is a futile attempt to avoid conflict that they will face in reality.
  • Every school has issues so why would I want to pay money for different issues?
  • Although we are a family of faith, we do not concur with highly conservative or fundamentalist views and do not want the individual beliefs of others pushed on our children.
  • I work full-time, so even if I wanted to homeschool (which I don’t), that would be impossible.
  • I have zero patience and the news would surely be at my home within days if we were to homeschool.
  • We just aren’t the homeschool type. I don’t eat granola, my kids don’t look like they recently escaped the set of ‘Little House on the Prairie,’ and F bombs are an integral part of my classy speech pattern. Public school is so our bag baby.

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For our individual family, it feels like these are seriously solid arguments against homeschool. As I said before, never gonna happen.

But there’s a seriously funny thing about using the word “never” with regard to anything in the Parentiverse. You unwittingly use the word “never” with absolute conviction in a sentence about something pertaining to choices you will or won’t make for your children. The Universe (God / Jesus / Your Preferred Divine Name Here) then catalogs those words, laughs hysterically, and proceeds to turn your world inside out just for the sake of proving you 110% wrong.

In addition to the “never homeschool” beatdown I would one day (a.k.a. now) receive, I would also be getting a bonus gift that would simultaneously lead to my eating the words below.

My kids are fine. I know this because…

  • They look happy and don’t seem upset.
  • They actually want to go to school (In truth, that one still weirds me out, but my kids have always been such complete nerdzillas.).
  • Their teachers don’t complain about their behavior to us.
  • They are in advanced classes, perform very well on average on their grades, and always score solidly on the state standardized tests (STAAR – the state standardized assessment tests that I have loathed with a fiery passion since we first experienced them several years ago).
  • If they had problems in school, we would recognize it because we are a close-knit family.

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The two sets of bullet points above have been covered in extensive detail during countless conversations with my husband, family, and friends over the years. Even as my spouse and I watched our children’s individual learning gaps yawn wider and wider with every semester that passed, we couldn’t fathom how a non-traditional program could possibly fit into our lives nor did we want to go that route. We agreed that it would never happen.

Apparently I have been using the word “never” a little too emphatically because God has since felt the need to put me on the fast track in order to change my mind. Here are some of the gems that we never saw coming that we have discovered firsthand over the past two weeks.

I’m so sorry that I didn’t realize years ago that...

There is zero emphasis on fast facts. Seeing teenagers count on their fingers is painfully commonplace. I’m not being facetious. They literally count on their fingers. Education has shifted basic mathematical teaching to a utilization of various techniques that attempt to optimize every potential learning style. The problem is that the kids don’t have enough time to get really good at any single style, so they never get the most basic of foundations for any concept. Fast facts aren’t engrained in their base mathematical learning, and this dramatically impacts their ability to solve complex equations with any level of accuracy or speed.

As an example, I watched my genuinely brilliant daughter solve very complex equations this week. Unfortunately these equations took her an excruciating amount of time due to all of the micro-calculations one would expect to be automatic by that point in her educational experience. When I say micro-calculation, I mean something incredibly basic like 4×5. A student at her advanced level should easily be able to recognize that 4 x 5 = 20, right? Well I absolutely assumed so, but I watched my daughter repeatedly solve basic problems like this… 4 x 5 = 4+4 = 8 so 8+4 =12 so 12+4 = 16 so 16+4 = 20. This is not unusual for children in modern middle school (a.k.a. junior high school), but it is absolutely bonkers. Unbelievably, I came to the terrible realization that we needed to reintroduce the same flashcards that we once studied when our children were in 2nd and 3rd grade.

Although we found that our other kid could easily recite fast facts, we also discovered that he actually forgot how to solve 99% of the basic addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division problems at his level without a calculator. Full access to calculators has been a standard in his classes for years. I agree that calculators are fab, but unless you are solving something extremely complicated or inhumanly possible, one should still understand how to solve those same problems via pencil and paper. Sadly, we are now working on reteaching him his entire last three years of math once more. Three. Years. He will get it again at a fast clip, but the truth is that he should already have it given the grades he achieved in those classes.

And then you have the nightmare that is composition. The kids don’t study grammar much (if at all) and consequently can’t write sentences correctly. They don’t capitalize words properly, and they don’t use punctuation. If they do use punctuation, it often appears in the most bizarre of places. One of my older children wrote a paragraph for me a couple of days ago that literally started with a comma. The comma was intentionally written before all of the words. Despite my obvious head explosion at the sight of such horror, she has since pulled this wild punctuation move multiple times (because apparently she has been doing this for quite some time). In. Sane.

Another fun note is that while I feel strongly that one is permitted to have moderate to severe crap penmanship, you still need to be able to read and write your own name with a real live signature. I don’t care if the rest of your class jumps off the block letter bridge. You aren’t in kindergarten and should therefore be able to sign your name like a big boy / big girl / adult. Countless young adults are graduating high school and college with honors yet they can neither read or write cursive nor can they sign their names with a genuine signature. I am waiting to see someone put an X on a piece of paper. When that happens, you will hear my scream of horror from whatever corner of the globe you happen to inhabit.

Don’t even get me started on spelling speling spellyng because it has gone the way of the dodo doedoe doughdough. It’s Crap Central, and wow that’s seriously not okay.

An unexpected fun game I introduced to the kids was “Can You Figure Out How the Dictionary Works?” Spoiler alert – they couldn’t. My brain almost popped out of my head watching my daughter attempt to interpret the apparent hieroglyphics that systematically covered the pages of the new Webster’s Dictionary I recently purchased for this event. I bought the book in yet another attempt to back the kids off technology. Sometimes they need to look up words, but we have always used apps or the internet. I had no clue what a mind scrambler I was handing my poor child, but she was fascinated to discover the hidden code (know to the seasoned few as “alphabetical order”). It feels like they are so dependent on technology that they have lost what should be an innate ability to problem solve, to recognize patterns, and to seek alternate possibilities.

Our children are extremely intelligent and should be able to do so much more than what I have seen over the past two weeks. Thank heavens that my husband and I still have time to break this disturbing and debilitating pattern that is afflicting our children, and we will do whatever we have to to make this change. We have to figure this out for their sake. I refuse to raise meatheads.

Each new discovery of the past two weeks has left me feeling more and more guilty. It has made me question my parenting and forced me to ask myself how I could have possibly missed so much. Thankfully I was sharing those feelings with a kind friend of mine, and her response was exactly what I needed to hear. “You don’t know what you don’t know.” What a gem of a comment and a beautiful soul! (The biggest hugs go out to you Lynda!)

She was right. Had we known, we would have done something differently. Maybe we wouldn’t have opted for homeschool, but perhaps we would have supplemented their educations. It’s spilt milk now (buckets and buckets of it but over and done nonetheless). Thankfully, we know now.

Although I know that we are on a completely new path, I still can’t tell you how all of this will work. I have no doubt that I will have plenty of mom fails in this arena, too. I feel like that’s kinda my special skill, but then again, it’s just how is goes in the magically imperfect world of parenting. However, we always continue to learn, and ideally, we do our best to help all of our little loves do the same as well.

I pray that your littles are happy and well and that they are receiving the best education that they can get. I hope that you are having better luck with regard to being able to help and coach them in that journey. And if you are experiencing anything close to what we are seeing, I want you to know that you aren’t the only one. I’m here if you need to know that you aren’t alone, and I sincerely believe that you can make anything happen if you can be brave and release the fear. We’ve got this, and the One who sees it all has got us. ❤️

Parenting is so easy, right?!? (…said no one ever) 😉

Best wishes to all of you. Jo

Another Life Claimed by Suicide

Last night I received a call informing me that a family in our community lost a parent to suicide. Sadness doesn’t begin to describe my feelings for them. When I told my husband, of course he felt the same. In the course of our conversation about this, he made this comment that so many people make.

“No matter how bad I feel, I just can’t imagine it getting to the point that I would do that to my family.”

There is very real truth is those words. He can’t imagine it. Although my husband has his own heavy emotions and struggles to carry, he has never walked the path of someone who lives with severe clinical depression. He literally cannot fathom the world through that unimaginable filter. If a person has not faced the darkest of nights or wrestled to the depth of their soul about the value of their own life, they have no way of comprehending the torturous confusion and pain of those moments.

A person who committes suicide did not have a clear perception of their reality. His thoughts were terribly twisted. He couldn’t recognize the tidal wave of devastation that his death would bring. He didn’t see that his mind was creating vicious lies, and he couldn’t understand that his life was precious and invaluable. He truly could not comprehend that he was and still is needed more than he could ever believe.

All that person knew was that he wanted the pain to end, and that he didn’t want to hurt the people in his life anymore. He had no ability to perceive that his leaving his family would create a deep void in their hearts. Although they would heal to some extent over a long, long time, that place in their hearts would forever remain jagged and raw. His presence will never be forgotten, and he will always be loved.

If you are fighting this battle in your mind, do not believe the lies that depression creates. It poisons your thoughts and tells you that you have no value. That confusion feels so real but it is the cruelest of tricks. Don’t you dare ever believe those lies. Never ever ever.

Your mind will not stay in darkness forever. You must continue to hold on whenever you most want to let go. Your life has value beyond measure, and the people in your world need you more than you can fathom. Life doesn’t have to be perfect to be worth living, and despite what you seem to see all around you, everyone is fighting some kind of battle.

If you struggle with loneliness, self-worth issues, fear, guilt, or overall chronic imperfection, you are landing solidly on the scale of normal humanity. You aren’t alone in this and you don’t have to be alone in depression either.

Speak up. Ask for help. And hold on another day. And if needed, hold on again. Just don’t give in and don’t give up.

You’ve got this, and we’ve got each other. You are here for a reason. Give your life a chance to prove that to you.

You matter and your life is precious. Fight to keep it. Always.

My heart and prayers are with every person who has lost someone to this battle. Please know that it was never your fault, and it wasn’t the fault of the person who committed suicide either. Depression is a vicious disease.

***Please contact the National Suicide Prevention Hotline if you feel like you are at the end of your rope and truly can’t hold on much longer. If you are seriously considering ending your life, you desperately need to speak to someone who can help clear the blackness and the lies that are you can’t control in that moment. Call 1-800-273-8255 and please please please get help.

You are precious and you matter.

In love and light always.

Joanna

Another Sexy-time Fun Mom Weekend

Originally posted on lifeinthespectrum.com.

I pulled my head out from under the covers a few minutes ago. I wanted to stay there, but who has time for that kind of shutdown?

Please note that I wasn’t there because I was sleeping nor was sexy-time on the books. I actually got out of bed hours ago because I needed to make breakfast, do some cleaning, and ideally have a little family time. Unfortunately the family that decided to join me for that time (my own) was irritating the crap out of me, so I ended up extricating myself from the area due to safety concerns for all within my range.

Upon returning to my own room, I immediately found myself dealing with unexpected calls and texts from the outside world regarding outside world craziness. Apparently madness knows no bounds. My husband and I barked at each other momentarily in response to all that (which never ceases to be ironic because we are rarely truly mad at each other about the outside insanity but rather just stressed in general about scenarios neither of us can fix). Following our scrappy moment, he left the room and I proceeded to climb back into bed and pull the covers over my head like I was hiding from a vampire (that has lived under my bed for decades waiting to strike if I mistakenly happen to leave a toe exposed outside of my blanket as I fall asleep) (because apparently this vampire has a thing about toes but not actual heads / necks) (yes it’s weird, okay???).

Does anyone else do this? Something childish and ridiculous like literally putting the covers and pillows over your head in a futile attempt to turn it all off for a few minutes? Truth be told, I would greatly prefer blasting music to literally drown out the noise with a louder better rhythmic beat. Unfortunately that would simply call the aforementioned housemates (a.k.a. my children) to me like rump shakin’ rats to an inappropriate hip-hop and 90s rap playing pied piper.

I. Need. Space.

But too bad for me. There’s crap to do, and times a-wastin’.

So here I am. Newly emerged from the covers once more and tapping away to write this post on my phone in a desperate attempt to syphon off some of my excessive irritation and overall overwhelmed everything that is circling furiously around my brain. But even that has to stop because, as I said previously, I got shiznet to handle.

Hopefully you, too, will find your way out of the covers. Best of luck on your own sexy-time weekend plans. Peace out.

Jo

Originally posted on lifeinthespectrum.com.

My Savings

Another new poem for the book…

MY SAVINGS

I stocked up on cheap shirts

And tons of new tank tops.

The shoe racks had discounts

Even on cool high tops.

I bought enough makeup

To earn me that free gift.

Jeans and skirts for half price.

My bags too full to lift!

I’ve saved so much money

And know now without fail,

My shopping has ended.

But what’s that there? A sale!

– Jo Price 😉

A Million to One

***Originally posted in lifeinthespectrum.com.

My daughter has been asking me to write a book that she could then illustrate. I have half a dozen book ideas bouncing around my brain, but poems feel more like her style. I’m looking forward to seeing the fun collection my little artist and I can create together. Here’s the first poem that I am comfortable sharing. These are aimed at kids, but there are winks for adults, too. I just started these today, so the artwork is still in progress. ☺️

A MILLION TO ONE

Some people will tell you,

Don’t bother to start.

A million to one chance

That you’ll get the part.

Don’t waste your time writing.

Just put down that pen.

Don’t spend your years wishing

For dreams with no end.

Set free all of your hopes.

Just let each one go.

There’s no point in trying.

Stick with status quo.

But don’t you dare listen.

It’s your path to walk.

Their words have no power.

It’s only just talk.

Real magic can happen

If you join the dance,

‘Cause no matter the odds,

There’s always a chance!

– Jo Price

Never forget that impossible is not the same as improbable. Even the most unlikely of odds still means that it can happen. Aim for greatness and follow your dreams. Always. ❤️

***Originally posted in lifeinthespectrum.com.

One Minute Challenge and Hours of Anxiety

***Originally posted in lifeinthespectrum.com/.

dragonfly tree - IG

A friend sent me a link for a photography contest. Although I’m the noobiest of photography noobs, I couldn’t resist checking it out. Upon looking at the rules, I noticed that one of the requirements was submitting a one minute video about yourself. So I thought about it. One minute to describe myself. One minute to sell my purpose and my vision. One minute to catch somebody’s attention and show them what I have to bring to the artistic table.

And the mere contemplation of the idea of trying to convey any of those elements absolutely terrified me.

I know what I love and what I enjoy. I recognize what I dream of for my family and what I wish for in my life. But I feel like I am hovering between two realities – a split personality with dramatically different approaches at life.

There’s the practical pay the bills get the job done persona, but there’s also the artist dreamer wisher side as well. It’s as if the left and right sides of my brain have taken up arms against each other and neither is willing to back down.

So when I have to think about sharing who I am and what I want, I feel deeply conflicted. It’s a question of what I should and have to do versus what I want and whom I wish to be.

I want both worlds, and I am both of those personalities. I just don’t know if one side ultimately has to win out over the other. In the immortal words of Jeff Goldblum, life finds a way.

For now I can tell you that I have such great anxiety at the mere thought of making a video that my neck and chest are literally covered in hives. Maybe I should just start with finding a nice oversized scarf to mummify my torso in and then go from there.

Serenity now. Serenity now…

😉  Jo

***Originally posted in lifeinthespectrum.com/.

Entertaining Ideas for Your Halloween Guests

Does anyone else adore Halloween? We love it to death!!!

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