I'd be lying if I said that I've never considered homeschooling. I admire the dedication it takes to create a structured environment like that and the intense amount of time it requires. I have a number of reasons that I have leaned on in the past for why I don't want to do it, but I always try to remain teachable so homeschooling is always on the table. In fact, most things are always on the table for me when it comes to parenting because you never know when you'll need one of those tools you've been neglecting. Anyway, in the past weeks I've actually come up with a new reason why I don't want to have all my children home with me all the time. That reason came from thinking about these two cuties:
From about 8:15 until 3:30 monday through friday, I get to hang with these guys. For one thing, they are both really fun to be around, and for another they play well together. It's pretty peaceful around here during the day with just the two of them.
But the real reason I love it is because for a portion of the day there is a lot less contention around here. So I was struck with the need to examine this and to figure out why it is that 2 is easier than 4 when, for all intents and purposes, the older 2 ought to be mature enough to actually be helpful rather than sources of chaos. However, when all 4 of my kids are home, it often seems like utter mayhem. I don't think it was always like this. It seems like the older they get, the more independent they are which is good for being helpful and managing some things on their own. But on the downside, the older they get, the more independent they are... Yeah, it's a dichotomy which one has to navigate at all times.
They are so prone to bickering because (due to their wealth of experience *rolls eyes*) each if them thinks they are right about this or that ridiculous triviality. Now I know that essentially there is one of them that is more right than another, but to me it doesn't MATTER who did this or that, who said that, who hit who, who called that person a name, or took that toy away from that person. NONE of it matters to me when they are trying to pound their understandings/beliefs into one another, especially when their personal "truth" is so limited. They are unaware/ignorant/or plain just don't care that each of them is a different age, of a different gender, different personalities, different experiences and that's why they think different things and act differently. Getting them to understand is, I believe, a life-long, endeavor and possibly the most important one of all. I really don't care what the core issue is that they are fighting about. I don't care even a little bit unless it involves serious bodily harm. All I want is for them to recognize each other as individual beings that have something to contribute to our family and appreciate each other for that.
You can probably see where I'm going with this. There is a direct parallel here for how we, as humanity, behave with one another and how we view our children and what we expect of them. It doesn't really matter if you believe in God as our father or not. I think all parents just want to see their kids get along and be not just civil, but loving toward one another no matter what the "truth" is or who has it. I couldn't care less what the original argument is about. When my kids are being ugly and generally unloving toward one another, no matter who is right, I turn into dragon-mom, spewing condemnation and wrath down on those souls whom I expect more from. It gets all fire and brimstone around here, you know what I'm saying?
Now I realize this is an exercise in patience for me and that I have to learn the right way to help them understand and appreciate their differences, but more than anything, it makes me aware of how I interact with people and how I think of others in my own mind. Because peace starts and ends IN the mind, not outside of it. We are beings meant to act, not be acted upon. Knowing what I know about children and their very limited perceptions gives me an incredible amount of peace with the world around me, even as tumultuous and variegated as it seems. We are, more often than not, fighting over trivialities.
In fact, the more I grow as a parent, the more I love everyone and everything around me. And I appreciate these simple times of peace when our familial numbers are cut in half for a bit while kids are at school. I want the little ones to know what peace is, and to look for it, which is another reason I appreciate that they (and I) get a break from trying to "get along" all the time when everyone is under one roof. More and more I get that no matter how old we are, we are all just children, struggling to learn, and someone, somewhere, is looking down and trying to help us appreciate one another. We need times of peace so we know to appreciate it, but we also need times of interaction when we learn how get along and to understand that the real lesson is not about being right or wrong, but it's about learning to love one another--I mean real love, not just tolerance--as starkly different beings and value each other BECAUSE of differences, not in spite of them.