Domestic Bliss Report

Motherhood is hard work. If we don't stick together, we'll all fall apart.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Ignorance may be bliss, but not for their friends

One of the things I wanted to do, and we have done, after the election is to join HSLDA. Some of you may remember that. While membership may put us on Big Sister's hit list, it would also keep us as updated as possible, I think, on what our congresscritters are doing regarding homeschooling laws. (C-SPAN--it's like Big Brother in reverse.)

Frequently in the newsletter, there are situations described where public or child welfare agents overstep their bounds or misrepresent their power. Things like the kids not being registered with their local intermediate school district, test scores or portfolios not being submitted, curriculum not being approved, letters of intent not being filed, kids playing in the backyard or park during school hours. So your "friendly" neighborhood social worker is making phone calls and random visits and needs someone who speaks legalese to tell them they can't do that.

It came clear to me when a friend, foster mother, and homeschooler got a call recently. Some big mucky-muck (her caseworker's supervisor?) called her. Seems Ms. Mucky-muck had encountered a ten-year-old homeschooled girl who couldn't read and wanted to report Mom to the appropriate office in Lansing for educational neglect, or some such; she didn't have the number but knew my friend would. The problem is, there's no such number. No such office.

Ms. Mucky-muck was stunned. Nobody to call? Don't homeschoolers register on some list in Lansing? Or something, some kind of oversight committee? Nope. Not here in Michigan, anyway. If this girl is being neglected, and that isn't necessarily a given, your office is the one to deal with it, dear.

Seriously. I'm speaking as a former public school teacher with graduate credit. About all public school teachers know about "homeschooling" is how to spell it, and I am willing to bet that as a rule our governmental agencies aren't much more informed. I was asked recently by other moms if I had to take classes or get a license to do it, and they were surprised (not dismayed, thank God) to hear no.

It's a lot like motherhood. You can read a lot, ask a lot of questions, get a lot of advice, find support groups, do online research. But you're still relatively on your own, literally in the middle of the night with a screaming toddler, or metaphorically when your seven-year-old doesn't get basic math. You have to make the decision: will a dose of ibuprofen take care of this, or do we need to make a trip to the ER? Will flashcards work with this, or do I need to try a whole different approach? If I just take a deep breath, relax, sing and pray, will it resolve on its own?

You fly along by the seat of your pants most of the time and hope you're in the ballpark. When we started homeschooling, even though I believed in my bones it's the right decision, I did mourn a little for the experiences I thought my kids would miss. Some sports, some school experiences like dissection in science, possibly prom. I consoled myself with the thought that there are public schooled kids who don't get those either and aren't too twisted about it as adults.

But now, three years into it, I can admit I was wrong. We have been, or will be involved with as of this fall, the following activities: soccer, dance, flag football, swimming, gymnastics, art classes, planetarium trips, art museum visits, Science Camp, American Heritage Girls, and we're currently researching Cub Scouts. I've found a website where I can order anything from the fairly innocuous natural sponge to entire dissection kits (including frogs, worms, crayfish, fetal pigs, and cow's eyeballs); from microscopes to telescopes. And, as of this spring, there's even an official Michigan Homeschool Prom. I don't think we're missing a thing.

But did I know this four years ago? No. I've learned by doing. So the next time I hear of some nosy child welfare worker demanding to inspect textbooks or interview the children, I'm not going to assume it's some kind of Big Brother trying to control a family. I'll just assume the poor woman doesn't know what she's talking about and patiently explain.

Labels: , ,

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Vignettes from my life

Back in May or so, I was having one of those days. The kids weren't misbehaving, just driving me crazy. Rachel bounced up to me and asked, "Can I play on the computer?"
With a manic gleam in my eye, I replied, "Can you tell me the square root of nine?" [Madeleine is the only one who has done multiplication, and only up to the 5s.]
"Ten!" she guessed.
I went to the Patience Well. "Honey, what times itself makes nine?"
Confused blinks from Rachel. Dale from the kitchen table said, "Three, plus three, plus three."
Uh oh.

* * * *
Louie has taken to storing items down the front of his shirt. This is a variation on having to imitate Napoleon and find and manipulate a nipple or navel. Usually he's wearing a Onesie, so whatever he's stuffed in there doesn't go very far. Items include Hot Wheels cars, handfuls of pea gravel, Goldfish crackers, a two-inch stalk of celery, a bitten Roma tomato, capless markers, and a non-functioning Lightning McQueen Shake-N-Go Racer. Not all at once, but that was just yesterday.
If I just start putting him in regular shirts so his treasures drop through, would it make life better or worse?

* * * *
Last week we attended my beloved's work picnic. The pavilion had been rented, it was close to the bathroom, food was ample and delicious, all was well. In the general vicinity, there was a family not associated with our group. I'd guess they were Filipino; English was not their common language. Yes, that's relevant to my tale.
However, there were kids there roughly Rachel's size. Being the kind of kid she is, they became fast friends. I tried to keep one on eye on her and her pals while also chaperoning the other three during Daddy's softball game. It wasn't too hard; they were at most 30 yards away without much obstruction by trees.
Rachel wandered over to us with a hot dog on a wooden skewer. Ummm... I don't recall seeing that before. "Where did you get that hot dog, Rachel?"
"From my friends," she said, indicating the Filipino family with a wave of her hand.
Close eyes, sigh. "Did you at least say 'thank you'?"
Grin. "Oops."
After she finished that, she wandered away again... back to her friends, of course, because next she had a grilled breast of chicken on a skewer. "Did you say 'thank you' THIS time?"
"Yes, this time I did."
After this, Rachel stuck pretty close to us and no more unfamiliar food appeared. She shared the chicken and it was pretty good.
At the end of the day, when we were all packing up, the mother of the Filipino family came over. My husband started to apologize for Rachel's behavior, but she politely interrupted. She wanted to tell us what a nice, well-mannered, friendly and trusting little girl we were raising; not afraid of people that were different.
Well... we weren't so upset then. It makes me wonder what else she said to them.

* * * *
I think that's enough to push the Moon Landing clip down past my links.

Labels: , , ,

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

I have a boy.

Therefore, I "get to" watch things like this.

Does the joy ever end?

Labels: , ,

Monday, July 20, 2009

Why we use "Old Math" here at Price Classical Academy

Old math did this:

"New math" does this:

Do I really need to say more?

Labels: , , , ,