This is a guest post from Julie Dutra. She lives in Portugal with her toddler and husband. You can find more of her writing on her blog happymamahappybaby.net
School was an intensely lonely experience for me; I was at worst bullied and at best felt left out. By homeschooling my son I get to be the leader of the pack, not the outsider. I know, I know. I can’t expect my son to take on my interests and hobbies. But even if he chooses something I find mindnumbingly boring like boules or chess or even accounting, I get to be there with him: not his friends or teachers.
Can you spot the common theme? I just don’t want to be alone. Before my son was born I spent eight hours a day on my own with only my laptop for company. Staying at home with a needy newborn baby was an upgrade by comparison, so no wonder parenting came easy to me. If my son goes to school, I’ll just go right back to being alone again.
This is deeply unfair to my son. He needs friends his own age. He’s only two years old and I can already see how much he craves the company of his peers. But because of my past, my personality, and my feelings, I can’t bear the thought of sending him to kindergarten, even just to try it out for one day. What do I do if he likes it?
My reasons for homeschooling must be the worst reasons ever. Writing this post has been a terrifying experience and I’m this close to registering my son for daycare this fall, if only to get him away from my needy, suffocating grasp. So I clutch at straws: at least there are parents (like Penelope) who suggest homeschooling is actually better for children. My husband, who is saner than me, is on board.
Ultimately, there’s no way I can know what’s right for my son: he might love school but he could equally hate it (as did my husband and my mom—there is a family precedent after all!). I can’t predict if he’ll be a loner or Mr. Popular, whether homeschooling will prepare him for the future or limit his career options. Whether he’ll find being around me suffocating or liberating.
The only thing I can know is what is right for me, and my hope that if homeschooling turns out to be wrong for my son, I’ll be astute enough to notice.