Homeschooling – Naked, raw, and militant.


Then there was a vacation…
June 23, 2008, 2:24 am
Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , ,

… a year hiatus is more like it.

Don’t worry.  There have been lots of things going on to write about.  I’ll start with the most recent.

First of all, free Tropical Smoothie day was Saturday (also known as National Flip Flop Day).  Both should have huge recognition as truly important holidays.  🙂

Friday was spent at a water theme park.  Normally, these do not interest me in the slightest.  Swimming in children’s urine – no matter what the amount of chlorine – sends my OCD into a tizzy.  I “cowboyed up”, though, and well… took the plunge both literally and preverbially.

I have to admit I did have fun.  The waterslides were a great time.  I looked for bathing suit styles I might like by comparing other people with the same body type to mine and whether or not I thought their suits were flattering or not.  I found a couple I really liked.

The park was significantly less crowded than normal which was good too.  I don’t enjoy large crowds of people but I do have a fun game I play when crowd watching.  (More on that later, though.)

As I wandered through small groups of people, I was stunned to overhear the following diatribe by a mother to her crying pre-teen child:

“You better STOP that crying or you’re gonna’ be beat up at school for crying like that.”

This was just outright offensive to me on so many levels.  The fact that the mother implied it was okay for others to beat up her daughter if she cried like that was at the forefront.  Berating her daughter in public was another.  Making a spectacle of her family a close third.

It dawned on me later that this is what nourishes bullies in the public school world.  Parents have often said to me, “How are they going to learn what it’s like in the real world if they’re not exposed to bullies?”

Now, I must say, in my life, I’ve met some real jerks.  Some total backpfeifengesichts.  (Oh, you so have to look up this word.  If it isn’t in your vocabulary list tomorrow, it should be!)  But never once have I felt better for it or even prepared for it.  As a matter of fact, in every job I’ve had, these people get FIRED for being a bully.  Worst case scenario, they get ARRESTED!

Somehow, though, parents are being conditioned to accept bullies as a right of passage.

How happy I am to have children who have not faced this.  How rewarding it is to know that I have done my job as a parent and protected my children from the backpfeifengesichts of the world.

Isn’t that what we’re supposed to do as parents?  Not prepare them to live in fear.  Not assure them that this is normal.  It’s not.  That’s why we have laws against stalking, harrassment, or assault.  Why aren’t children given that same protection?

I listened to a dictation of an article in Scientific American about the neurology of trust.  The article mainly dealt with how the money market works on that level but surprisingly, my girlfriend and I found it applying to a whole world outside of the intended target of the study.  Oxytocin (yes, THAT oxytocin) rewarded us when we trusted with a spike of dopamine.  We excitedly discussed how breastfeeding would have these benefits as well as childbirth because we had to surrender so completely to the process and trust that it would work – that our body would do its job.  In return, we pondered that infants would receive that same chemical reward by trusting in the same birthing process or that they would be fed.  That cycle of trust was stronger in women (we nodded, of course).  In men, the chemical DHT often got in the way of trust.   This was the fighting hormone.  The raw testosterone.  Oxytocin could curb that but in people who were either deficient or showed larger amounts than normal – there was no trust.

I thought about the trust cycle in that young woman.  I felt that betrayal she was feeling by having her mother chastise and make fun of her instead of showing her love and ensuring that her daughter would trust her.

I wonder, when school violence is so prevalent, when “meeting you afterschool” means a fight, or when “mean girls” is the normal behavior, where is the chemical reward?

I think we’ll find it in the cabinet labeled, “Ritalin”, “Stratera”, “Adderol”, “Zoloft”, “Prozac”, or “Wellbutrin”.

Be good to each other.  It makes you feel better.  It’s scientifically proven.



“Y”? Because we LIKE you…
September 14, 2007, 12:02 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

Public School started in our area today. It used to be I was sad to see parents ship off their children. In later years I was glad. We could “take back the park, beach, museum” without fighting the crowds of children who were so thankful to be on “parole” that they went insane when in public. Today, however, it made me angry to see the dozens of parents standing eagerly on the street corners awaiting the release of their child.

 

I was angry that so many parents complacently “give away” their children to these government institutions and are “glad to be rid of them”. How do I know they are glad to be rid of their children. They tell me… by the hundreds!

 

The conversation usually goes something like this, “You HOMESCHOOL!?!?” in a state of utter shock that they’ve met one of those them thar “real-life” homeschoolers. “Funny, you don’t LOOK like a homeschooler.” which I attribute to my lack of a denim jumper.

 

It usually continues, “Oh my GOD! I could NEVER do that. I can’t WAIT for my children to go to school!”. Depending on my mood (which is most often charitable but every now and then ornery), I may answer, “Yes, we have rough days too.” but if I’m honest (and I try to be), I do enjoy answering, “Oh, really? Because I really like my children! That’s why I had them.” I’m not sure what effect I want that to have on them – guilt/shame for being that negative about the children they molded and created or reprimand for saying something so mean about their children.

 

Don’t get me wrong, there are days I’ve wondered if the goal of my children was to be a homicide statistic because they have pushed me to my last possible reserves of patience but it’s fleeting and never a life-long goal of getting rid of them for 9 months.

 

I wonder….

 

What is the difference between those parents who like to be around their children and those who can’t wait for them to be 18 so they can kick them out? What was the difference in their lives? Childhoods?

 

At what point has our society learned that we are not to be a family and enjoy each other’s company but instead engage in conflict and trial each time we are together?

 

So today I am angry that these little children are “sent away” because they are such a “burden” to their parents but my eyes are filled with tears from that. They’re filled with tears of joy that I like my children and like to be around them…. even when they are at their most irritating.



The Schadenfreude Effect
April 30, 2007, 12:20 am
Filed under: Uncategorized

I have lots of things to say today. I spent a few days observing the world around me and having the events I witnessed create a Rube Goldberg effect of the mind. (My girlfriend and I share the joke that this is my “red car syndrome” – a whole story of tangents that eventually come back to the point.)

I wanted to wait on this post until the media fervor died down a bit about the horrible tragedy at Virginia Tech… but it really reiterated my thought:

What if we had a school day and no one came?

I’ve ranted about this before but it’s an argument that needs repeating until it gains enough momentum to actually be a movement.

On any given day there is a news story about weapons in schools, bomb threats, fights, children lost when dropped off at the wrong bus stops, bus accidents and no seatbelts, cockroach infestations, school lunch at 9am, lunches that are high fat/high calorie and sponsored by Hostess… Guess what? This was all just this week on our local news.

Time and time again they interview the parent who answers with the same deer-in-the-headlights look, “I trust the school to do what’s right.”

“My name is Elmer J. Fudd. I own a mansion undt a yacht.”

“Teachers need higher pay to be able to do their job.” they yell. “The schools need more money to provide a quality education.” they add. (Funny how I provide a complete education for 3 children every year with no salary and for less than $2,000 for ALL of them, though.)

If you have not seen John Stossel’s “Stupid in America”, you’re missing a GREAT piece on the American school systems! The demographic that disagreed with it? The unions. (Follow the money trail. The NEA and its union stand to lose MILLIONS of dollars should they be found to be as obsolete and/or misguided as they really are. )

Regardless, I teach art to adults if you’ll remember. Recently, some of my students became very upset at the management of the place where I teach. “Upset” may be an understatement. “Disgusted.” may be more accurate. They took it upon themselves to write the corporate office and complain.

“I will NEVER shop at your store again.” one wrote. “From now on I’m taking my business to your competitors.” another chimed in.

Management was in an uproar! “How do we fix this?” they responded. Meetings were had, staff was replaced, policies were put in place.

Why doesn’t this happen at school?

What if we ALL “took our business to the competitors”?

And I want to be clear here. I’m not advocating that EVERYONE homeschools. Not at all. I understand there are some parents who cannot – regardless of whether it is because they have to work, they are not of the temperament, or they do not have the resources.

But just for a week. (I don’t think a day would drive the point home.)

Imagine the money Coca-Cola would lose alone! Hostess, Kraft, Nestle would be TRAUMATIZED! Remember, education is big business and don’t fool yourself into thinking it’s anything but. If you really want to know what the school system is about, read, “The Underground History of American Education.” by John Taylor Gatto. Pavlov would be proud.

In today’s society, if we want to make a point, we let the sponsors know that we will no longer buy your product if you support this. (Remember what it took to get rid of Imus? It was the SPONSORS pulling out. Decency be damned. It was the MONEY disappearing that got the attention of the management.)

There’s an old adage that says that a satisfied customer will tell 4 people about their experience. A dissatisfied customer will tell 10.

Yet, I watch over and over as parents on the news or even listen to stories of parents in real life complain about their school systems and yet do nothing substantial to stop it.

As a homeschooler, I guiltily enjoy the schadenfreude effect of schools in misery. It reiterates my decision to homeschool and nods it’s head in my direction in approval.

However, as a human being on this planet that has to share it with a few billion others, it worries me greatly that this government run institution is held together with bubble gum and duct tape and no one seems to care – despite the damaged goods it manufactures.

It bothers me that these children’s futures are so manipulated by unionopolies because like it or not – they’ll be working for/with mine some day.



How old are your children… no, really?
April 29, 2007, 11:26 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

Two words put together often mean something we’d never think of. For example, “Military Intelligence” can be argued by either major political party (I say “major” because there ARE other parties, people, and not just two heads of the same beast.)

“Military Reservation” is another.

“Age Compression”, however, doesn’t even begin to actually describe what it is.

Walk with me as we reminisce about children from yesteryear.

As homeschoolers, we have more power than most parents about what our children watch, listen to, or experience. It’s one of the things I love about homeschooling – the ability to offer a loving, enriching, and nurturing environment devoid of product placement or endorsements by a 7 year old of the latest street thug to grace a cd cover. While their public schooled peers are walking billboards of promotional media, homeschoolers tend to be out of the loop of the “middle shelf of cereal.”

Let’s remember that “HOME” schooling is quite a misnomer itself. Very few of us actually stay home. We’d be more accurate in stating that our child has private tutors and participates in enrichment programs than to say we really “HOME” school.

So, it’s not as if our children are locked in boxes and sheltered from the “real world”. The “real world” is all around us – whether we like it or not.

I am constantly shaking my head at stories about 8 and 9 year olds knowing about oral sex by the color of their bracelets. I’m disappointed to read stories about 10 year olds huffing. I’m baffled when I see stories on the news of 13 year olds stealing cars and killing innocent people that are trying to lead a productive life by following the rules.

Still walking? Let’s picture then, the homeschooler. On the right, you have the little girl playing with her paper dolls (remember those?) and humming a nursery rhyme song. She’s 8. No, 9. She could even be 10. Because she’s homeschooled, she’s been given permission to pretend longer. She maintains her innocence a bit longer. She’s a child from yesteryear as I stated.

On the left? We’ve got the public schooled little girl. Short shorts, mid-drift exposing her stomach, glitter lip gloss (okay, I may get some flack on this one. My 6 year old LOVES glitter lip gloss but usually because she’s pretending to be a fairy – NOT a “hoochie mama”.) 2 inch heels, and playing with a Bratz doll (who incidentally ALSO looks like a hooker.)

WHAT HAPPENED?!?

Well, my eyes were opened to that aforementioned term, “Age Compression” This is solely a marketing campaign and one targeted to make young girls grow up… and fast. They are to emulate older girls and want to grow up to be just like them. Unfortunately, the media is dictating who THEY (the older girls) must be too! No longer do girls want to grow up to be just like Mommy (unless Mommy is a said hooker.) They want to look like 20 year old clubbing girls at a weekly rave.

It’s a huge business to market Britney Spears to little girls! (Thankfully the shaved head and rehab has faded her public appearances a bit but never fear – she’ll emerge in a few months to ask for forgiveness and start a new career in the arms of these loving and forgiving children.)

“Old fashioned” is “quaint” now. It’s “nostalgic”. I think it’s something more. I think its a safety net for children who don’t seem to have a transitional phase from child to adult. They are now one or the other. We force them to grow up in appearance but forget about teaching the “id”, the “emotion”, or the “psyche” how to grow up too.

Interestingly enough, it’s the baby doll industry that’s most worried about this – NOT the vast majority of parents. They’re worried because girls are abandoning the noble role of mother and instead taking on the questionable role of concubine.

 

 

 



What your child really needs to know:
April 25, 2007, 5:04 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

I’m in the midst of a rather fun and silly e-mail exchange with some parents about what your child really needs to know.

Okay, this started out very silly. I made the comment that all children need to know how to make the slide-whistle noise through their straw while in any fast food joint.

This actually happened a few weeks ago when I was in an Arby’s in a less than desirable part of town. As luck would have it, just as I was about to enjoy my chicken salad wrap (which is really good, btw), a man and his chick walk in and sit down. He’s on the cell phone talking VERY loudly (do people realize they do this on cell phones? Mister-really-loud-cell-phone-talker-guy). Apparently, he’s explaining how he has either come into some cocaine or he’s preventing someone else from coming into some cocaine. That was never quite clear but the word “cocaine” was used over and over until I had enough. I’m all for free speech but I guarantee what *I* wanted to say wouldn’t have been any more welcome than what *he* was saying.

So, I took matters into my own hands and taught my children how to do a slide-whistle with the straw. What, dear children? You want to go sit up front? (incidentally right by this guy) Why sure! I’m sure he’ll thoroughly enjoy your new-found musical ability!

And so they did. Slide-whistling away! It was magical, it was beautiful, it was inspiring… AND… it was irritating enough that the guy left.

Mission accomplished!

Useless knowledge? I think not, grasshopper!

Other things children need to know:

  • How to jump rope. You’d be surprised how many homeschoolers don’t know how to jump rope
  • That goes right along with how to do those hand-slapping rhymes.
  • Jacks!
  • Paper footballs
  • Cootie catchers (fortune tellers)
  • Do you like buttercups?
  • Shooting the paper off of a straw (as another mother pointed out)
  • Making hornets (slingshot apparati with said straw, paper, and a rubber band)
  • Chinese jump rope
  • YELLOW PUNCH BUGGY NO PUNCH BACK!
  • Holding your breath through a tunnel or over a bridge and sometimes even past a cemetery
  • Two square (or four square)
  • Cat’s cradle
  • Jacob’s ladder (Eiffel Tower)
  • And the airspeed velocity of a coconut laden swallow

These are all very important things! They are a whole culture!

And realistically, I shouldn’t just pick on homeschoolers not knowing these things. With more and more public schools getting rid of recess, it’s a wonder many children even know what a ball is – unless it’s being aimed toward them in that ruthless social elimination “game” we call “DODGE BALL”!

But that’s a whole other subject.



The newest in homeschooling from Apple
April 25, 2007, 12:51 pm
Filed under: alternative schooling fun

Just when you thought alternative schooling couldn’t get any cooler, those crazy guys at Apple got busy. (I guess they figure it’s time to catch up to all the money/time the Gates spend on education.)

Apple came out with a new game for the ipod. It’s called iQuiz and it’s like an enhanced version of the music quiz game that’s already on the iPod. The neat thing is that it comes with a free quiz generator so you can create your own quizzes on any subject and load them on your children’s iPod. Cool school tool, eh?

Now you can yell at them to “Turn it UP!”



Sometimes there IS such a thing as a free lunch
April 24, 2007, 9:01 pm
Filed under: frugal tips

And free couches and televisions and vcrs and clothing and well, you name it!

I have to ask you… have you Freecycled today?

Yeah, we all know what it means to RE-cycle but imagine if we all FREE-cycled?

If you don’t know… whoa! You’re missing out!!!

I can’t remember who first told me about it. It may have been my geeky hubby. When I first heard about Freecycle, however, I was stunned. Not just stunned… AMAZED and stunned!

Whole Yahoo! Groups of people just wanting you to take their old stuff!

This is done all in the spirit of less waste and a healthier environment. Remember I told you we were a “natural family” ? This is part of that! Now, if you have to have something brand new with the tag still on it and that new formaldehide smell, this isn’t for you but if you know that as soon as your child wears something and you wash it, it’s lost that sizing and formaldehide smell anyway, this just may be your ticket to saving all kinds of money!

Okay… a little history here:

Turn ons – people who freecycle baby items!

Turn offs – people who hoard and hoard and live on freecycle boards and never leave anything for the rest of us who need things too. Oh! And people who sell freecycled items. I hate that.

Freecycle – it’s kind of like those little penny dishes by registers, “Have a penny? Need a penny?” Same difference.

I get baby clothes, baby items, an iPod radio thingy (iLive), all kinds of neat things. Last year I got tomato plants! Even my gorgeous kitty, Fifi, is a freecycle!

I have freecycled to others: bikes, a sofa bed and matching love seat (in great condition btw), a dorm refrigerator, computer parts, maternity clothing (another HUGE need on freecycle), fabric, sewing patterns, bassinettes… I’m a good freecycler. :o)

Drawbacks? Well, you sometimes have strangers come to your house or you go to a stranger’s house so be smart. Listen to that little voice in your gut. Sometimes the items aren’t really as they are listed but this isn’t Ebay so you can’t leave negative feedback about a dirty toy that you’re too lazy to put in the dishwasher to sanitize. (Did you know you could do that?)

Sometimes things smell like smoke or pets or smoky pets.  (Don’t sweat the petty things and don’t pet the sweaty things.)

All in all, however, I’ve had wonderful experiences with it. Sometimes there’s that “one that got away” but I’m ever vigilant looking for new things that I NEED.

In the words of Mikey’s friends, “Try it.  You’ll like it!”