What if the mom is the problem?

Now that I have this blog I have talked with tons of parents who homeschool in groups rather than on their own. I can tell it is the way to avoid making my social son into a socially awkward homeschooled kid. But look: I hate talking to people. I have Asperger Syndrome and I’m awkward, and while I’m very articulate on this blog, and you probably like reading it because I’ll say things other people don’t say, that is fun for a blog and very bad for a dinner party. Or a homeschool group.

So I don’t want to have to be social to do homeschooling well. In fact, I love the idea of never having to talk to anyone at school again. And, by the way, a lot of people who have Asperger’s are also face blind, which I am. So all those people I see every day at school during drop off and pickup and arguments about my older son’s IEP? All those people are people who I don’t recognize when I see them. So of course I’m elated at the thought of never having to go back to the school: the place is a sensory integration nightmare.

So I worry that my son will not have a rich enough social life as a homeschooler. Not because of any inherent problem with homeschooling. But due to an inherent problem with me.

When I look around at everyone else in the world, I can see each person’s worst personality trait after talking with them for just a minute. I think I have savant syndrome for peoples’ shortcomings.  And I think, what do all the other parents do, who have personality deficits way more unappealing than mine (at least to me)? What do they do when their kids are stuck in a house with them all week long? When there is no forest but just sort of a small grove of a few saplings, the acorn probably falls too close to the tree.

10 replies
  1. Cathy
    Cathy says:

    Lots of moms arranged for others to take their kids to our homeschool group, because they were working or for some other reason. I wouldn’t have done that because I wanted the support and friendship of talking to people who were doing something a little bit like what our family was doing.

    But you get that support and friendship online, right? Where face blindness doens’t matter so much…

    Also, some kids don’t like big-group activities, either. A lot of kids just want one or two friends at a time…or (when they’re older) online friendships.

    Homeschooling is so great partly because it is easy to make arrangements that fit your unique family – these particular kids, that specific mom, and this dad, this one right here. Most schools cannot be that flexible – even kids who get overwhelmed in large groups, even kids who SHUT DOWN in large groups, are plunked into a room with 31 to 36 students and an adult or two.

    So don’t think of yourself as “a problem.” If a kid wants to do something that you can’t easily do for or with him, for whatever reason, maybe you can still make arrangements for him to do without you.

  2. L
    L says:

    I’m face blind too! It is mild though as it has improved over the years and I recognize voices pretty well which helps.

    • Penelope Trunk
      Penelope Trunk says:

      It’s so interesting that you compensate with voice. I compensate with gait. I pay such close attention to gait that I can imitate someone’s gait after seeing them walk only a few steps.

      And it took me, like, I don’t know, 30 years to understand that other people pay attention to faces and not gait.


      • MBL
        MBL says:

        Sadly, my compensation tool is not as practical as either of yours. I remember clothing and jewelry. Engagement rings work a lot better than earrings or, say, a white t-shirt, but I’m still not very adept.

        While pregnant, I was reading homeschooling books thinking I’d have plenty of time to read about infants while she slept. That didn’t work out so well . . .
        But I am terrified of homeschooling since I am an INFP who needs massive amounts of downtime and my extroverted Aspie daughter loves constant interaction. She is as bad as I am with names and faces, so I can’t help her at all when she is in school/camp/playground situations.

        I’m still waffly as to what we should do, but am very happy for you, Penelope, that you have made decision. I wish you the very best.

      • L
        L says:

        It’s interesting to realize you start compensating even before you are aware of the deficit. For me recognizing voices doesn’t come as a surprise when I think about about it. My mom spoke to me only in German as a child and I learned English in school. As I got older I started paying attention to people’s accents. For example the fruit apricot do you say it with a short a or a long a will tell you something about where a person is from. Listening to different radio personalities or news anchors is fun because you can hear little things like how long they hold certain vowels or do they change the word just so slightly that it is different than how other people say it. I also am aware of people’s word choices all of which has definitely helped when I need to recognize a person who’s face I can’t place.

        I wonder if your ability to recognize gait helped you in volleyball.

  3. Karen
    Karen says:

    Oh Penelope, you just hit me right where I live. I am an INTJ – heavy on the I. I have an extreme social anxiety disorder – I find going to the grocery store to be nerve wracking and will go to extreme lengths inside the store to avoid running into anyone I know. The most challenging part of homeschooling for me is making sure that my kids get enough social contact. Fortunately, my boys have friends right across the road who are also homeschooled, so there is always someone around for them to play with. I guess you won’t have that luxury on the farm. I sign them up for lots of activities where my presence is not required like scouts, judo and art camp.

    Things are getting better as my 9 year old who is extremely social can now get on the phone and arrange his own playdates with his friends from when he was in school. He also has a ton of virtual friends that he talks to on his XBox Live account. My youngest is a little bit autistic/aspergers (we’re not sure exactly what he has) and doesn’t really like playing with other kids all that much so he’s all good. Having the kids across the road is a godsend for him because he can engage with them for short bursts of time and take breaks from it when he needs to. I comfort myself with the fact that public school would be far too much social contact for him – he’d go nuts there with the sensory overload.

    The worst day for me during the week is Tuesdays. There are swim lessons for homeschooled kids at our local rec center and then a meet-up at the library. It’s 2-3 hours of hell for me, even though I like most of the other moms okay. It’s just very stressful.

    I do worry a lot about them growing up to be social misfits but whenever I have a panic attack about it, my husband calms me down. “They’re fine”, he says. Sometimes I even believe him.

    • Penelope Trunk
      Penelope Trunk says:

      I’m so intrigued with the idea of virtual friends that your son is making. My son with Asperger’s would really like that. (And, of course, I think this is probably why I like blogging so much.) I need to figure out how to enable him to explore the Internet more so he figures out how to make online friends…


      • Karen
        Karen says:

        If he likes video games, the XBox is a wonderful thing because it instantly hooks you up with others who share your interests. Within a couple of days of setting up his account he had a list of 10 new “friends”. A lot of people would probably argue that these are not real relationships but they’re real to him. He worries about them if they’re not online for a few days and on the few occasions that he has lost his game privileges he will beg to be allowed to send them messages explaining why he won’t be around for a while. It has brought out some leadership qualities in him – it’s not easy to organize a Halo campaign with 12 other people who each need a to be given a specific task to accomplish in the game. He’s become a great organizer and a skilled negotiator. He has an uncanny ability to get others to do what he wants them to without pissing them off. The game goes better when he’s in charge so they let him run the show and he really likes that.

  4. Cherri Porter
    Cherri Porter says:

    What do we do when trapped in the house with our own kid who seems to be the combo of the worst traits his dad and I possess? We feel self-loathing and yell at our kid. We tell him to go find something to do and to stop that and to pick up his shit, etc. And, we feel bad we’ve done such a bad job with both the DNA-side and the nurture side. Sometimes I let him watch too much TV and I take a nap with an icepack. Sometimes I read up on how I can be better and try to apply those changes for about 10 seconds before he wears me down. Every day is a monumental effort and I send him to school–a public charter school that I have mixed feelings about–for my own sanity as much as his. He is a social kid and needs to be around people; he also learns well with others and the school he goes to does a lot of collaborative stuff. I’m an introvert and could go all day w/o talking.

    I don’t have aspergers or any such excuse, but don’t like talking to other parents nor do I remember their names or what kids they belong to. I hate the small talk, I hate the stupidity of doing it how it’s always been done and I’m not gonna volunteer to fix it so I just have to sit there and shut-up. I do it because it’s part of being a parent in America and I don’t have the energy or where-with-all to do it differently.

    I just hope my kid grows up to be a decent human. I’m setting the bar pretty low; I teach community college.

  5. leftbrainfemale
    leftbrainfemale says:

    (Website link is primarily an archive – I haven’t blogged regularly in 5 years!)

    I’ve often felt like a bad influence too because I am also an INTJ – (borderline ENTJ)and I often felt guilty about not taking my kids to group functions. But they managed to make their own ways – before starting public school three years ago, they were involved in online forums which matched their interests (Petz online forums, Gaia online). I just tried to be sure that whenever we “went to town” (as we live out in the country) they spoke to people and communicated. We would go to things as a family like “parking lot pickins” (bluegrass music) to listen, and the girls would make a friend for the evening. I’m just not a schedule person, so I hate having to meet with a group at a certain date or time. Work schedules never bothered me – but I can’t stand social obligations!

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