What do you do in those moments when you realise that you have absolutely no idea, if the decisions you are making as a parent are the right ones or not??
Bluffing ones way through it, seems a very tempting and potentially the only viable option right now.
Elizabeth, my 8 year old, is struggling this morning with the concept of going in to school today, which is also exacerbated by the fact her homeschooled, younger brother Harry, is off today on a adventure day with his tutor Paul. She can just about cope with that aspect but sadly they also happen to be visiting Elizabeth favourite museum in Bristol, ‘we the curious’ , https://www.wethecurious.org followed by a banquet (lunch) at the exotic Zaazaa Bazaar, (also Elizabeths favourite restaurant and also in Bristol…we live in Cornwall, so it’s not somewhere we can go regularly) which I think seems a bit more for Elizabeth who only has an exciting day of school lessons, followed by Hockey (it’s becoming apparent that she doesn’t really like hockey, something to do with horrid shin pads and sweaty legs?!) to look forward to. So it’s the end of the world in her micro universe this morning and life is supremely unfair. Plus to top it off she has…a cold!!!! 😫 I love the problems of an 8 year old.
The thing is, Doodles (elected) to go back into main stream education (we were happily homeschooling both the kids, early this year but Elizabeth decided we were boring and she needed to go back to school in order to have friends and fun?! I’m fun!!!😳🤪), whereas Harry has decided that he still wanted to spend more time at home (with fun mummy!). Often this usually results in Harry complaining on a daily basis, that he hasn’t got any school trips, friends round to play, chocolate pudding with chocolate sauce for dinner etc…but for once the tables have turned and it’s not a pretty sight (quite a lot of snot involved actually).
So the question is, do we;
a) cave, and let her have the day off (risking teaching her a terrible working ethos and scowly faces from all the fellow parents)
or b) make her go in, despite the obvious distress (made own bed, now go lie in it scenario).
My instinct is to let her stay home as we were happy for her to be home schooled in the first place and if it’s making her miserable today, maybe it’s better to lose the battle to win the bigger war (staying at school long term).
The thing is, I genuinely believe that learning should be an act of discovery, interest and dare I even say…fun. Children have a wonderful, natural instinct to learn and are constantly observing, modelling and allowing their own natural curiosity to drive there adventures into discovery. Harry is homeschooled and is constantly reading (mostly about Super Mario or Space), creating, studying and exploring his world around him, all through his own motivational drive. Don’t get me wrong, he would also gladly spend the entire day playing Mario Karts if we supported him but with a restricted 2 hour gaming limit, we find he is quite happy to source his own learning and entertainment. We have Paul the pied piper of tutoring, who comes in for 3 hours on a Wednesday and a full adventure day on a Thursday but other than that…it’s just us and I’ll be honest, I think we’re doing okay.
So when Doodles chooses to melt down about being the only one in the family to have to leave the house, every day (Richard and I work from home), there is a part of me than can sympathise with her and frog marching her to the school gates because she chose to make the commitment to school, doesn’t really resonate with our approach to education. I’m sure there are those out there amongst you, who will be feeling all sorts of reactive emotions right now and you are all completely right, in your own way. There are indeed many different ways to view this situation but for me…I want Elizabeth to know that the choices she is making, are driven by her needs and values, not mine, not the educating system and not necessarily societies in general (maybe breeding anarchists) but hers and hers alone. How is she going to learn to listen to that little internal voice, if I keep telling her, that what she thinks and feels is unimportant. It may seem silly to me that Hockey is too sticky and horrid right now and that she feels the balance of sibling luck, is currently off-centre but it’s not my reality, standing within her size 3 shoes but hers and today, this is a big deal and her fears are important and I am going to choose to try and listen because I have a feeling, there maybe even more to this, than I can understand right now or she is even capable of expressing.
I don’t believe that Elizabeth should just pick up and drop school on a whim, to be allowed to snuggle down and watch Cbbc for the day because she can’t be bothered to get dressed that morning but when I see that she is genuinely struggling with something, then I do believe it is my job, as her parent, to help her carve out the time, to work herself out (it’s only going to get harder for her to learn to do so) and occasionally, we all need a duvet day or just a cuddle with our loved ones, whilst we air our hurts and fears.
I don’t know if this is the right thing to do or not…my magic 8 ball is on the fritz and if I ask google, it will just present me with societies current thread on the matter. Only time will tell I guess but my little girl already looks less stressed and we are now going to go, snuggles and read, Charlottes Web, together for a bit instead (classic!), plus she lets me do the voices, so much fun.
Wish me luck fellow explorers.
Take care of each other xxx