If you have teenagers you know the the reason all homeschool advice is from parents with young kids to other parents with young kids is because that’s the time it’s easiest to delude yourself that you know what you’re doing. That’s why I have so many extra pictures of my kids as teenagers to sprinkle all over my blog posts; I barely wrote about my kids during those years.
I barely wrote about my kids as teens because I was so blown away by how much I didn’t know and how fast things were spinning out of my control. But I think of this site as a record of my parenting. I have to put the pictures somewhere.
Which forces me to tell you that the rhythm you get into where you use what you know about the world to guide your kids really fails as they get older. Here’s an example.
I’m great at specializing because I have a system for committing to something that makes me excited to do it and patient with myself if I switch:
I try something new to assess how much effort it takes to be an expert, and then I consider if I can combine this skill with one I already have. For example, I was already on high school track when the college volleyball coach asked me if I wanted to walk on the team. And I was already playing beach volleyball when I taught myself to get sponsored. When I cold called to get freelance work building websites I had already had experience cold calling to get sponsors.
Usually my attempts at specializing doesn’t work so well. I taught myself to paint sneakers and practiced for about a year.
I thought I could sell them here. Then I thought I could write stories on them. Then I thought I could make all sorts of stuff and write on everything. But actually, I couldn’t leverage any other skill I have so committing to learning to paint sneakers was too much of a commitment since I couldn’t leverage anything else.
I thought this would work for my kids. When my older son was looking for a science project I told him he could use his own knowledge of autism and work with a professor who researchers autism. He told me I’m projecting my own dreams onto him.
I told him he needs to have dreams of his own if he’s not doing my dreams.
He told me he had a dream that his mom wasn’t so overbearing.
My younger son’s head injury meant he could play cello only a few minutes each day because of the pain. I told him he could combine his Spanish and his music and become an expert on tango. He slept fifteen hours a day for the rest of the year. I wrote a blog post on my tango research.
You can see the pattern. Homeschooling is such a joy when you can learn right alongside your kids. And it’s so difficult when you have to help your kids find how they want to learn, and it’s nothing like you expected. I’m always looking for a measure of success. I read a study that showed a measure of success of parents of young kids is how many playdates the parents set up. I read that as how much parents are willing to torture themselves at sitting around talking with other parents.
Maybe a measure of parenting success of teenagers is how tutoring sessions parents set up for a subject the parents doesn’t enjoy. Because that is how much parents are willing to talk about an unpleasant topic with the tutor and the kid and everyone who asks, so, what has the kid been up to lately.
Yeah. That’s good parenting. I tried really hard not to do that. I’m writing this so you can do better.