~ 6-Year-Old Stares Down Bottomless Abyss Of Formal Schooling ~

August 24, 2008

Note: This article is taken from The Onion, a heavily satirical Web site, and it was posted 8.15.08 at http://www.theonion.com/content/news/6_year_old_stares_down_bottomless. If you have never read The Onion and you opt to visit their site, use caution. Entertaining, but can be offensive. Not a kids’ site.

Also, I am wondering how many of you will actually be saddened by this article. Is it really funny? I realize I am preachin’ to the choir.  🙂

Here you go!

CARPENTERSVILLE, IL—Local first-grader Connor Bolduc, 6, experienced the first inkling of a coming lifetime of existential dread Monday upon recognizing his cruel destiny to participate in compulsory education for the better part of the next two decades, sources reported.

“I don’t want to go to school,” Bolduc told his parents, the crushing reality of his situation having yet to fully dawn on his naĂŻve consciousness. “I want to play outside with my friends.”

While Bolduc stood waiting for the bus to pick him up on his first day of elementary school, his parents reportedly were able to “see the wheels turning in his little brain” as the child, for the first time in his life, began to understand how dire and hopeless his situation had actually become.

Basic math—which the child has blissfully yet to learn—clearly demonstrates that the number of years before he will be released from the horrifying prison of formal schooling, is more than twice the length of time he has yet existed. According to a conservative estimate of six hours of school five days a week for nine months of the year, Bolduc faces an estimated 14,400 hours trapped in an endless succession of nearly identical, suffocating classrooms.

This nightmarish but undeniably real scenario does not take into account additional time spent on homework, extracurricular responsibilities, or college, sources said.

“I can’t wait until school is over,” said the 3-foot-tall tragic figure, who would not have been able, if asked, to contemplate the amount of time between now and summer, let alone the years and years of tedium to follow.

The concept of wasting a majority of daylight hours sitting still in a classroom when he could be riding his bicycle, playing in his tree fort, or lying in the grass looking at bugs—especially considering that he had already wasted two years of his life attending preschool and kindergarten—seemed impossibly unfair to Bolduc. Moreover, sources said, he had no idea how much worse the inescapable truth will turn out to be.

Shortly after his mommy, homemaker Ellen Bolduc, 31, assured him that he would be able to resume playtime “when school lets out,” Connor’s innocent brain only then began to work out the implication of that sentence to its inevitable, soul-crushing conclusion.

When pressed for more detail on the exact timing of that event, Mrs. Bolduc would only reply “soon.” At that point, the normally energetic child grew quiet before asking a follow-up question, “After [younger sister] Maddy’s birthday?” thereby setting the stage for the first of thousands of rushing realizations he will be forced to come to grips with over the course of his subsequent existence.

Madison Ellen Bolduc was born on Sept. 28.

After learning that the first grade will continue for eight excruciating months beyond that date, it was only a matter of time before Bolduc inquired into what grade comes after first grade, and, when told, would probe further into how many grades he will have to complete before allowed to play with his friends.

The answer to that fatal question—12, a number too large for Bolduc to count on the fingers of both hands—will be enough to nearly shatter the boy’s still-forming psyche, said child psychology expert Eli Wasserbaum.

“When you consider that it doesn’t include another four years of secondary education, plus five more years of medical school, if he wants to follow his previously stated goal to grow up to be a doctor like his daddy, this will come as an interminably deep chasm of drudgery and imprisonment to [Connor],” said Wasserbaum. “It’s difficult to know the effect on his psychological well-being when he grasps the full truth: that his education will be followed by approximately four decades of work, bills, and taxes, during which he will also rear his own children to face the same fate, all of which will, of course, be followed by a brief, almost inconsequential retirement, and his inevitable death.”

“Even a 50-year-old adult would have trouble processing such a monstrous notion,” Wasserbaum added. “Oh my, I’m 50 years old.”

The first of Bolduc’s remaining 2,299 days of school will resume at 8 a.m. tomorrow. On the next 624 Sundays, he will also be forced to attend church.


~ Ok I lied ~

August 16, 2008

I told her I would not cry until I was in the car on the way home.

Sometimes things don’t go as planned, you know?

Saying goodbye to Lauren was so tough this afternoon. Tougher than I thought it might be. I mean, I expected to be choked up, but I was outright boo-hooey.

It’s not like she doesn’t have a car on campus and can’t come home any time she wants to. Lee Univeristy is just two hours from home. She has a terrific roommate; she will be handed over two thousand dollars per semester to go to school at Lee so she doesn’t even have to hold down a job and go to school in tandem. She has been truly blessed and she is thankful. Things couldn’t be better for Lauren.

So why am I a mess this evening? Because Lauren has grown up all of a sudden. Because of Change. Yes, I know she is ready to go, but the change of it all is overwhelming right now. Yesterday she was sewing clothes for her baby dolls and playing dress up with her little sisters. Today she is not here.

For those of you who have  young children and babies today, grab ’em and hold ’em and kiss ’em because they will mysteriously grow a few feet (in size) overnight and will be talking about graduating from high school tomorrow. The next day they will leave for college. They will become young adults of whom you are exuberantly proud next time you look at ’em. And you will have a hole in your heart when you say your goodbyes.

I think I am okay now…at least until next week when we help Nick get his stuff back to his dorm room at college. (No, they couldn’t attend the same school. That would be too simple. 🙂 )

I am making him no promises about anything…!

~ Out of gas? ~

August 14, 2008

I was driving on an empty tank on my way to town today, which struck me as odd because it seemed I had just put forty bucks of gas in the car a couple of days ago. The fact is the car had been used, (by any number of home-from-college-kids,) and it was time to stop everything for a couple of minutes and get more gas.

The alternative was to *really* waste some time by waiting by the side of the road while someone near and dear to me took my phone call and brought me a gas can full of gas because I couldn’t make myself stop to fill up.

Then I realized that I was feeling that my tank was empty, too. Know what I mean? That needing-to-do-something-solo feeling? So here I am parked by the lake. I don’t have time for this today, but I have learned that I need to “fill up” my tank, too, when it is empty.

What does your gas gauge say right now? Have you had some “me time” lately? Um, can you even remember the last time you did something alone? – and running errands doesn’t count!

If not, then may I suggest carving out an afternoon or evening for doing something you would like to do? It doesn’t have to cost money. You can stop by the library on a drive out to a park where you might just luxuriously read a book with no interruptions.

We are not being frivolous as moms and dads when we take a time out. We ALL need time to ourselves. Just as your car WILL stop functioning if you refuse to heed the empty tank warnings, so our temperaments tend to get out of whack if we refuse to not just slow down but to come to a full and complete stop.

The consequences of not stopping to fill up when your tank is empty are to not be a very nice person to be around, thus affecting everyone you come into contact with on a daily basis.

I can remember when my first four children were little. I could barely bring myself to leave them. I felt so guilty if I left them at home without me as if they would be the worse for me being gone. The truth was that they needed a break from me as well. I just didn’t know that at the time and never would have believed it at the time either. Absence does make the heart grow fonder.

It was even more difficult for me to get a sitter so that my husband and I could go out somewhere sans children. I was always nervous during dinner out at the restaurant or during the movie at the theater, and I missed out on some great R and R because I mistakenly thought I was depriving my kids of my presence. I am rolling my eyes just thinking about it now. How egocentric of me!

While it is sweet to miss your children when you go out somewhere, unless you are leaving them behind with your St. Bernard (remember Peter Pan?) to watch over them, know that they will be FINE in your absence and just go out and have a good time! Your kids will thank you!

Nowadays I may not even notice that the tank is getting empty emotionally until one of the kids will softly say, “Mom, do you need some time off?” That says to me that I need to get back on track and it is more than noticeable to those around me. Gulp! Do I really become annoying to be around? I can’t see how it could possilby be so, but evidentally it is. Ha!

This was just a friendly little reminder to check your gas gauge. Take some time off to fill up your own tank, and you will be a much happier camper when you get back to reality.

You are planning on coming back, right? LOL

I just checked my cell phone, and I have two missed calls. (I don’t get good reception here at this lake spot.) I suppose I should get back to reality myself. I feel much better now!

Thanks for coming by and hanging out with me. Have a terrific rest of your day, pun intended.

~ Need a Laugh? ~

August 11, 2008

You have GOT to follow this link and hum along as Gloria Gaynor sings,

“I Will Survive” (the first year of homeschooling)

Okay, the lyrics are a little different, but I guarantee that you will be copying and pasting the link and sending it to fellow homeschoolers when you finish listening. (and laughing.)


~ Why I am not happy with the CA Court’s Decision ~

August 10, 2008

Well the good news is that the California Court of Appeals ruled yesterday that parents do not have to have state credentials to teach their children at home.

The bad news is that some people are idiots, and a number of them are in the legislature in California.

Forgive me for not offering a standing ovation here.

This case should have been thrown out by the Court of Appeals due to pure, simple, outrageous, ludicrous, beyond all imagination, what can they possibly be thinking, who appointed them anyway stupidity on the part of the original court who decided the case.

The simple fact that this case ever had to go this far is beyond what my mind can wrap around.

First of all, how can anyone think that parents who CHOOSE to teach their own children are incapable of doing so?

You know, I could farm out my kids at the state’s expense, all six of the ones who are still at home, all day long, five days a week, and have peace and quiet in my house. I could actually CLEAN my house when the mess makers were not right behind me undoing my work for me. I could listen to MY music, read novels in my FREE TIME, create gourmet meals, get to the leftovers before my kids do, and play Bridge with my friends on Tueday afternoons.

But no, I give all of that up in order to invite comparative chaos into my home. I choose to give up my own desires instead of expecting the government to do my job for me. The price we moms (and also dads) pay to homeschool is, of course, offset by the incomparable bounty we and our children reap. We know that very well. 

Why the heck would I want to homeschool my kids if I wasn’t serious about it?

So what if I didn’t have a degree in education or anything else, for that matter? I happen to have that useless education degree, and you know what I learned in college about teaching children? It is best done one-on-one. “Tutoring is the best way for children to learn,” said one of my education textbooks! How ironic.

Who in their right mind would teach their children at home unless they were committed to it? Unless they were committed to finding a way to make real education happen for their children?

Okay, there may be some weirdo people out there who may keep their kids from view because they are shady or worse, but to say, as was originally the decision handed down – that parents are “not fit” to educate their children if they do not have a sanctioned degree from a state institution – is something that ALL parents should be upset about. Not just homeschooling parents!

Hello! You as a parent are not fit to educate your child. Can you live with that statement any better if you send your kids away to school than if you teach them at home? Where is the outrage in the parental community at large over this?

Many parents may *think* they are not qualified, which is one thing, but to be TOLD they are not fit is another thing entirely.

For example, I would make a terrible lacrosse coach right now because I know zippo about lacrosse. I know I am not qualified at this very moment in time. However, if I wanted to be a lacrosse coach and teach lacrosse, I could do it.  California would say I can’t – before yesterday, that is.

The truth is I could learn what I need to know, study the rules, watch game after game (or match after match, whatever they call them) and learn the basics. Now I am not saying that I would be a good lacrosse player, but I could coach a team by expending effort to learn the sport inside and out.

According to California, because I didn’t attend a university to get a degree in lacrosse, I am not fit to teach the sport to my kids? Isn’t that what was initially decided? If you don’t have a degree, you CAN NOT, ARE NOT CAPABLE, LACK THE SMARTS, WILL NEVER BE GOOD ENOUGH to teach your children. So sorry. So sad. You are out of luck. The state of California can do more for your children than you can.

So much for my ability and yours to learn as adults, right? That was just stomped all over by being told we are unfit due to lack of “education.”

So while it is a pleasant thing to know that the CA Court of Appeals made the right deicision, it is still nightmarish at best to think that there ever was a case that needed to be appealed.

You may not choose to educate your children at home, but you darn well are FIT to do it if you truly desire to do it!

~ Bare Necessities ~

August 6, 2008

We had a really, really wonderful first day of schooling yesterday. We were home all day, so we were  not distracted from our purpose. I can’t emphasize enough how our outside activities can take so much away from our schooling time and from our focus.

Remember Disney’s Jungle Book? Remember the cute little ditty Baloo, the bear, sang to Mowgli? “Look for the bare necessities, the simple bare necessities. Forget about your worry and your strife.” Now, he was talking about “bear” necessities, but for our purposes, think bare necessities.

I write a bit about this in my upcoming column in Homeschool Enrichment Magazine. One surefire way to become “underwhelmed” is to just say no to activities that may be “good” in and of themselves but that bite in the end because they take away you and your student’s ability to focus.

I think we as moms underestimate the stress we put on ourselves simply by not simply being at home with our children on a very regular basis. Or else we let our children guilt us into signing them up for big commitment activities that meet several times a week or that require chunks of our time to either prepare for or to engage in.

I just can’t focus in a day when there is something needing to be done outside the home later on. My focus then is on worrying about who needs what in order to get ready to go out. If I can’t focus, I know my kids find it hard to focus.

Please know I am not attacking the validity of activities. Sure, it is good to learn piano and take piano lessons. Ballet twice a week or soccer practice a few times a week plus game days are not bad things at all!

There just is a price to be paid and a delicate balance to be struck.

Would you be amused to know that right now I am typing this from my laptop at our piano teacher’s house? Yep, some of my kids take lessons on Tuesday mornings. The rest of today will be spent playing, “Now get the kids to focus on school work,” and/or “Try to muster up enough energy to work on schooling the little girls in the afternoon.”  

So I struggle with this as well. For now, we will continue with piano lessons because this is our only activity right now. If it becomes apparent that Tuesdays are a wash educationally, then we will have to reconsider.

If you are overwhelmed with schooling or with the mere thought of schooling, check your calendar and see if erasing some really innocent/beneficial activities will help you regain your focus, your motivation, and salvage your time.

Check and see what is truly necessary for the life and fabric of your family and disentangle yourself from the rest. Give plenty of time and attention to the “bare necessities,” and “your worries and your strife” will more than likely do some evaporating.

Time to pack up the laptop and head home.

As always, I appreciate you stopping by!

~ The Start of Something New ~

August 4, 2008

Tomorrow we start our new school year, and I am more excited about it than I have been in recent memory.

In fact, I am so excited about it that my girls are mega-excited about it. Perhaps the boys are as well, but they don’t show it. I think “willing and focused” are better, more descriptive terms for the high school guys than “excited,” and I’ll take that.

I am ready *early* this year which is a big motivating factor in my life. Because I “just said no” to any speaking engagements the past two months, I have had time to think and to prepare. Now, I haven’t done a whole lot of thinking and preparing; I don’t want you to get the wrong impression. 🙂 What would the wrong impression be? It would be you thinking that I am ultra-organized on paper with the entire year planned out by day one. Um, no. I am organized enough to know that we are good to go for the first nine weeks.

You see, I actually have all of the kids’ Homeschool Student Planners ready for them, along with a surprise tucked inside. Usually they get their planners a few weeks after school has started because we are always backordered on them due to this being our busy season. Remember the Shoemaker whose kids had no shoes? This time I made it a priority to set theirs aside for them.

In the front of the planners, there is a space to put a photo of the student at the beginning of the year, and a space to put one at the end of the year. Kind of a track progress visually kind of thing. I actually put photos in all of their planners! It was fun, and tomorrow when I hand them out, I know there will be smiles all around. Silly little thing perhaps, but I am glad I made the effort to spice it up a little this time. Sometimes it’s the little things, you know?

What is it about a fresh start that can be so motivating? I am personally excited because I know where I want to go this year. I have a goal in mind that is very attainable, and I look forward to watching the children grow day by day as they inch closer and closer to their own goals that they will be setting for themselves for the next nine weeks.

What is my goal? Getting back to the basics. Simplifying. Being home more. Engaging more with my younger students. Spending more time talking with my older kids just because I want to know them better.

The oldest two leave for college within the next two to three weeks, and while I will most certainly miss them painfully, there will be a certain quiet in the house that will be conducive to learning. The busy schedules of high school seniors gets old after a while. If you have been there, you know what I am talking about: you see the backs of their heads as they are sleeping in bed or the backs of their heads as they are going out the door for their next activity.  Yes, peace will come back soon.

There is something intriguing and alluring about new notebooks, new pencils and pens, new crayons, and new subjects to study, isn’t there? 

Yeah, my house is still kind of messy, I didn’t get the closets cleaned out this summer that I was hoping to organize, and laundry is still overflowing the clothes baskets, but we are starting a new school year tomorrow! If I waited for everything to be perfect, well no need even finishing that sentence.

Tomorrow I plan to spend the day taking time with each child individually, seeing what we are doing this year, and looking ahead just to the next nine weeks. What do we want to accomplish by then? The older kids will make this decision pretty much independently since they’ve been at this for a while, although they seem to appreciate me being there physically beside them while they are setting goals. I like it, too.

The younger kids will get some suggestions from me, but I am sure they will nod their heads in agreement as we decide where we are going together. Together. That is what the first day of school is all about around here. I love it!

Don’t worry if you are fixin’ to begin a new school year but you don’t have all of your materials and supplies stacked up and ready to go. You don’t have to have it all together to homeschool. Decide as you go what is needed; sometimes you will change gears in the first week for one reason or another. Be flexible. Be adventurous. Be goofy. Be yourself.

I do recommend that you spend time with each of your children imparting vision for the next small portion of the journey upon beginning your homeschool year. They need to SEE where they are headed. I will shamelessly plug our Homeschool Student Planners here because I feel they are simply the best thing out there for homeschooling aside from your actual curriculum. 

You don’t absolutely have to have our specific type of planner! What you do need is a place where your older kids can plan ahead as well as record what they have done each day of the school year. Younger children need to see what is coming up, and what they are expected to do. Crossing “done work” off the day’s work schedule is exhilarating for them! A notebook will work, but each child needs his/her own.

Don’t get rolling without at least a brief outline of where you are rolling to.

If you have already begun, take a day and let your kids see where they are headed for just the next few weeks. This is so crucial to motivating your students.

If kids see school as one long, unending road, they are likely to feel helpless and on a treadmill. However, show them the next plateau they are reaching for one day at a time – have them challenge themselves – and their whole attitude will change. I promise!

Here’s to a great 2008 – 2009 for you and your family!

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