Okay, the title is totally by request from over at Nothing by the Book. It’s an awesome title. I also think it’s a great inspiration to write about something I’ve been meaning to talk about, our method of “homeschooling”. Of course, in order to do that, I’d actually have to “homeschool”, so maybe I should say, “our method of being too lazy to homeschool, yet still managing to get a lot of learning in anyway”. That sounds about right.
You see, over the years I’ve been accused of “slacking” and “failing” at homeschooling. I used to take offense to that, but the truth is, they’re right. I fail horribly at homeschooling. We’ve tried workbooks, but those always end up with fighting and my kids getting frustrated at not wanting to do it right. We’ve done the lesson thing. I’m over it. It’s too much work and not enough fun. I hate it. My kids hate it. It causes a lot of conflict in our family. Why bother?
So, yes, I’ve gotten lazy and I proudly slack off when it comes to homeschooling. Actually, I’m so lax that we don’t even homeschool at all! I can happily say I don’t plan to teach my kids anything. I don’t work at it. I swear, on the outside I must look like the laziest homeschool mom ever, and I’m really proud of that. It’s a reputation that I joke about working hard for. All of this laziness sure is hard work! It’s a challenge not writing lesson plans and not making my kids do activities.
On the outside I’ve gotten a lot of criticism. A lot of people seem to think that I just sit around all day on my computer or playing video games. I do some chores, after all, I cook, clean, and change diapers, but I can’t possibly do that much during my day. Those people also don’t tend to see a lot of what goes on around here on a given day. Sure, I get a lot of time to sit around on my computer, knit, and play video games, if I don’t mind that time being interrupted all the time with constant questions, comments and ideas. I certainly get a lot more time to do my own thing than if I was devotedly homeschooling my kids.
Here, let me show you a brief look at part of our day:
Sander comes running in the room, all proud of himself, thrusting out something in his hand to show me: Look! Mom. Look!
He always says mom on a down note, like he’s chastizing me…it’s cute.
Me: Oh cool, bud! What have you got there?
Sander, instead of just showing me, points it at me: Pshew! Pshew! Pshew!
Me: Oh no! A laser gun! Ahhh!!!
At this point I have to pretend to fall down dead, or he just keeps shooting, or gets bored and goes away, but it’s always more fun to play along. He starts giggling when I fall over dead.
Me, taking Luca’s little hand and holding it out like Iron Man: Pshew! Pshew! Pshew! Iron Bear will save me! Vengeance is his!
Sander drops his laser gun and staggers back, then falls over dead. He giggles, then grabs his laser gun and runs off to the bedroom, probably to make something else.
About two minutes later, Beekee comes into the room and hovers over me with that grin that tells me he has an idea.
Me: What’s up, Beekee-dude?
Beekee doesn’t say anything at first, but just giggles. We sit like this for a moment, me wondering what’s on his mind.
Beekee, after his long pause: Sander’s building a car with the blocks.
Beekee, still giggling: I want to build a car.
Me, raising a brow, wondering where this is going: Okay, so build a car.
Beekee: I want to build a race car, Mommin!
Me: So build a race car.
Beekee, now laughing like the joker: I want to build a car out of soda cans! A soda can car so big I can drive it! And then I’ll drive it crazy around the neighborhood! Like this!
Beekee has to mime driving a car, of course, and runs out of the room driving his imaginary soda can car, still laughing like a maniac as he clearly drives out of control down the hall.
Me, muttering to myself: Okay, Beekee…note to self, you’re not getting your license for a LONG time. Second note to self, find a kit to build your own RC car to be modified into a soda can car. That’s probably much safer…I’ll add that to the “Christmas and birthday ideas” list.
Luca starts squirming. He gives me yet another of his crazy expressions.
Me: Yeah, I know. Your brothers are crazy. Just wait. You’ll be crazy like them some day too. You can’t be born into this kind of crazy without being crazy yourself.
Corde: Hey! I’m not crazy!
Me: You wanted to make a giant teddy bear out of cupcakes for Luca’s birthday. I’d call that pretty crazy.
Corde: That’s not crazy. It’s a good idea. I could make all the cupcakes myself and then we could eat them all when we’re done. That’s practical.
Me: If you say so, Corde. And who would be baking the cupcakes? And how would we get them to stay in a teddy bear shape? And how would you frost them like a bear without frosting tips and one of those bags to decorate cakes?
Corde: We’d just have to make them. You’re the smartest mom ever. You could do it.
Me: I may be smart, Corde, but I can’t do everything. Besides, maybe you should settle with learning how to bake cupcakes and decorate them before you start shooting for the stars.
Corde: Yeah, there is that. I’m going to go draw a picture of me making cupcakes and then making a teddy bear out of cupcakes. As soon as we get the converter-thingie for the stove you have to get some cupcake recipes. I need to learn how to make them so I can make up my own.
Corde disappears to go draw and for a moment I have a breather. I can go back to what I’m doing. I know it’s only a matter of time before I’m distracted by the boys trying to spin the office chair at the same speed Sander is running around it, just to see if it can be done (which is actually what they’re doing this very second), or Corde is asking for some help cooking her own lunch (which is what she’s doing right now…I’m waiting for her to ask for help…I wonder if she’ll realize the hotplate isn’t plugged in…)
This is just life for us. I rarely can go for more than five minutes without someone coming in with a comment, question, or idea. They’ve always got something to show me. There’s always advice being asked or something the kids want to know about. After school lets out the kids disappear outside, only to come in a million times with more questions. They’ve got to tell me about every cool idea they came up with and ask if it’s possible. They’ve got to tell me about every cool thing they find. That’s probably why the ideas in my blog tend to be a little more scattered and disorganized than I’d like. It’s really hard to focus when you’re interrupted all the time, and I really don’t like to tell them, “Not right now. I’m writing.”
So, sure, I might not be doing what the conventional mom does. I might not be sitting my kids down to work on formal lessons every day. I guess in a lot of ways I am “slacking” and “failing” at homeschooling because we don’t homeschool. I don’t force learning on my kids. The truth is they’ll learn everything they need when they realize they need it. So what if Corde can’t really read at 9? She hasn’t found a reason to do it yet. She’s learned to read enough to get by for now. Once she sees reason for more, she’ll start to take an interest. So what if Beekee can’t do basic math at 5. He hasn’t found math to be useful. He’d much rather focus on reading skills and anything that has to do with music or animals. It’s entirely possible they’ll learn to live without those skills, but it’s highly unlikely, and if they do, more power to them. They’ll learn everything they need to know once they realize it helps them get where they want to go in life.
And with that, it’s time to go because Corde wants help with cooking. Beekee and Sander have disappeared to cause trouble, no doubt. Poor Luca is crying because he’s decided spinning himself in circles on the floor isn’t exactly doing what he wanted it to. The work of a mom is never done!