My older son told me he wants to learn history. He says he needs a normal education. Which means that he’s begun managing his own education since he knows I don’t think there is anything anyone SHOULD know. So fine, he disagrees. Fine.
I told him I support him in whatever he wants to learn. Then he told me he wants to take the AP Biology test this May. How hard should I push him to make sure he’s prepared? I start by figuring out how many tutors he can handle per day. Then I have to decide how much to ask him to do without a tutor. Is it okay to rely on them?
I thought I’d have a picture of my son reading at the top of this post. But I don’t have any pictures of him reading. There’s a reason: He’s having a really hard time reading difficult material and wants audio for everything. Should I read the AP Biology book out loud to him? I’m fucking sick of mitosis. I think he should learn to listen to a robot — I tried to convince him the British accent really makes things fun.
He told me, “Mom, all you know how to do is be a CEO. You sucked at school. Don’t tell me how to study.”
The real reason CEOs get paid so much money is they are willing to make huge, life-changing decisions with very limited information and in a very public way. Lots of people would say that CEOs are overpaid given the fact that they are not even making right decisions every time. And lots of people would say the CEOs are stupid for not getting all the information. But that’s a misunderstanding.
The more complex a problem is, the more likely there will not be a right answer, no matter how much research you do. The people who most appreciate a right answer are also the people who are most unwilling to go out on a limb with what could be a wrong answer.
It takes a brave person to make a decision when one has to be made, even when there is no right answer, and especially when families are at risk. (Quintessential example: Dropping the first atomic bomb.)
Another group of people who make this sort of decision all the time are women who announce what they will do after they have their first baby. Or their second. Women absolutely do not have enough information to know what they will want to do.
Will they like taking care of a newborn?
Will they miss work too much?
Will their husband be an incompetent co-parent?
Will the baby be especially difficult?
Will money be extremely tight?
There are a lot of variables. And they are not even objective variables. Yet women have to say whether or not they are taking maternity leave, and how long and whether or not they are coming back after maternity leave.
Generally no one is surprised when a woman does not do what she told everyone she would do. No one says, “You’re an idiot” or “You’re a bad parent” etc. And women can change their mind four months later. Or ten. Or whatever. We are not surprised.
Parents should feel the same ability to waffle when it comes to homeschooling. It’s okay to be scared to be home with kids all day but be game to try it. Just like a new parent is scared to be home all day but they do it anyway. And parents should feel okay not having any idea what they’ll do with kids at home all day because a new parent has no idea what to do once the baby is home. It’s very disorienting.
It’s okay to decide to homeschool and then decide you hate it. It’s okay to homeschool and decide you want to pay someone else to do it. These are all very common child-care decisions for babies. It’s a very common decision path for people coming to forks in the road over and over again – which is what parenting is.
This blog turns out to be my confessional about all the misguided steps I took while homeschooling my kids. The only sure-footed thing I did is spend my days with them. Every moment I spend with them is a good decision. Beyond that: Who knows?
The more confident you are in your parenting the more you will be able to make terrible decisions and own up to them and then try again. No one ever did a great job at something by doing it perfectly every time. It’s a process. You shouldn’t be scared to give homeschooling a try. Instead, you should be scared of being a parent who tries to make all perfect decisions all the time — those people will eventually find themselves very limited in what they can provide for their family.