Monday, January 11, 2016

Where Do You Start?

I don't even know where to begin. I've tried to blog quite a few times over the past several months, but as soon as I'd find the time to sit down and write, I would quickly need to get up again for one thing or another. Or, I wouldn't have the energy to tend to the blog. Or, I would try to compose a post about gray hair and the words just wouldn't flow. There were other things more pressing on my mind. My heart wanted to write about homeschooling and Noah, but I figured that it might bore some of my readers into unsubscribing. And besides, all of this, becoming a suddenly and unexpected homeschooler after being at the school of our dreams for so many years, under very personal circumstances, it's just not that easy to write about. 
I'm ready now, and with Noah's approval of course. I miss the blog.

1.) I am incredibly happy to report that Noah is back to his old, happy self. Apart from one short moment, I haven't seen him particularly sad, or heard any negative self-talk in a couple of months. It seems that homeschool and time has really helped him to move past whatever happened this fall. "Whatever" being what I now feel, was a short time of existential depression. He's a deep thinker, with deep emotions. I think it was just the perfect storm at the beginning of this school year. He was already anxious about starting school again after summer vacation, and Noah arrived back to find all of his closest friends gone (they moved up to the middle school), one of his most beloved teachers not at the school anymore, and in class with children HE saw as much younger than him. (His classroom was a 4th/5th grade split.) So, Noah was feeling very sad and lonely and stressed and that exasperated his anxiety issues, and everything just went downhill from there.

I guess a "re-start" was eventually needed. It's just what we did and now we're doing ok! Noah has worked on his worry, and he has come such a far way in recent weeks. We were so proud when he agreed to go on a playdate, ALONE at a good friend's house. That was huge! Also, Noah enthusiastically accepted a New Years party invitation, even though he did not know any of the other kids coming. Something he would have never done earlier in the year. And then, there was the big, five-family dinner at a restaurant with friends from school, that Noah attended with no problem at all. We couldn't believe it! He even happily ran inside and greeted all of the adults and kids with a hug. This weekend, we took a  rollerskating class together as a family, and meet another school family at the rink. Noah was trying something new, and  it was a class, I would have never imagined this happening just a couple of months ago. (By the way, it was the best time ever and Noah is begging me to take him back this week!)

The only "blip" we've had is that we were signed up for a wonderful homeschool co-op that was supposed to start last week. I can not even tell you how excited I was to start the session. We visited before Christmas and it felt great to meet such nice parents and their children. Everybody was warm and welcoming. Noah had some jitters and tears at the visit, I tried to reassure him and wouldn't you know, five minutes into the class that we sat in on (ancient Greece), he was smiling and laughing and making friends! I thought it would be just fine, and so we signed up for a neat sounding civics class called "Build Your Own Country," a "Geography Through Art" class, and an outdoor botany class that begins in a couple of months.

But then Friday happened. The first day of winter session, and all of his anxiety and tears and panicky feelings came rushing back. Noah was so upset with himself. He knew logically that going to the co-op was going to be just fine, but he couldn't stop his panic. It's heartbreaking to hear your child say that he dislikes who he is, because he can't just attend things like everyone else. My job as his Mom is to encourage and champion Noah. To give him opportunities to grow and take risks and push against his fears, to cheer him on and sometimes take him by the hand. On Friday, after a couple of hours of serious discussion, cajoling and pleading the logical, I followed my gut. I realized that just being four months in, it was too much, too soon, to face a room full of new people in a school-type environment. And so instead of going, we worked on what he HAS been accomplishing, and then a few hours later, in a magical comeback, Noah strode into the five family get-together at a noisy, crowded restaurant as confident and smiley as can be. I'm trusting in the process. I'm giving him time and space to grow and mature and all along reminding myself that with a lot of work and a lot of love, it'll be just fine. :)

P.S. I'll let you know how it goes, but we are also signed up for a 1-hour "homeschool gym" class that begins next week. Noah has already mentioned that he's nervous to join a class of strangers, but Jon and I figured that because it's just one hour long, and in a gym, that this might be a good "mini-challenge" to his fears and we're doing all that we can to help him accomplish this. I just know he'd LOVE to be flying around that gym with all the other kids once he lets his guard down.

2.) A gray hair interlude for my silver sister friends. I will be back! I promise! My hair is still gray, I swear! Actually, I have a gray hair posted started for you with some product reviews and hair updates. I know that I need get that out, and I want to. Jon is going to take some photos of my hair for and I'll post them. Im growing it back out. Remind me not to cut it short again when we get to next summer. Remind me that I'll miss my long hair. How many of you also do the long-short-long-short cycle that I do? When it get's just long enough to be long and flowy, I become annoyed at how frizzy it is in the spring and summer humidity, and then I cut it off! ....And then I miss my long hair and it all starts again.
(See, still gray!)

3.) I love homeschooling. There, I said it.
Crazy. CRAAAAZY. Who am I???? What is happening? If you would have asked me if I would ever consider becoming a homeschooling Mom a year ago, I would  have spit out my Greek yogurt right then and there. Out of fear. And disbelief. Sure I had a major Waldorf homeschool fantasy that included needle felted gnomes and modeling beeswax made into foxes, but that ship had long since sailed. Noah was having none of the morning verses and the pentatonic flute music since a tender age. I was pretty bummed, but I'm also a realist.

How could I homeschool? I would think, if you had asked me. We were at a fabulous school, and kids need socialization(!) I would add in. And besides, the thought of anything more than a long-weekend school break- full, open days of nothing but time and arguments over "screens," would send me into a tizz.

It's all the craziest thing now though. I'm actually not worried at all about being at home with my child sans proper school days and playdates and mini-camps to keep him busy. In fact, I rather like it and I'm not afraid of summer vacation anymore. Bring it on summer break! You don't want to go to day camp? Fiiiiiiinnnne. I don't care anymore. (Just keep the Minecraft to a couple of hours a day and don't argue with me over that.) Stop arguing with me! Screens kid, screens! ;)

Really though, it's amazing what you can learn you are capable of, and I'm just in love with this whole education thing. I'm in love with learning! Learning with Noah! Apart for the occasional battle of wills over fraction or grammar, it's really a joy. I can't express how much I have learned, or, well, RE-learned so far. Organelles, the parts of a cell, about protons and neutrons and ratios and decimals and pronouns and presidents and colonies to name just a few.

(Golgi Complex anyone?)

I've also learned about my kid. That he cares about doing well and that he doesn't always want to be so bouncy but that some days, he just can't help it. That's when I hand him a fidget to keep his hands busy and I pull out a book to read aloud. Right now it's "Tom Sawyer," and he is riveted! We just finished "Hucklberry Finn" last week- I'm sure one of his new favorites. We've also read excerpts from Don Quixote (he found it hilarious and wants to read it in full), and Little Women, which Noah also wants to also read, even though it's title. I have learned that by the way, given the time and the freedom, Noah is truly a voracious reader. He will read for hours on end if I don't tell him to stop. I've learned that he loves geometry and exponents and angles and pre-algerbra, but loathes multiplication and division, almost to the point of not even trying. He is a democrat, a left-wing authoritarian, who wishes he could vote. I found out that Noah would like to apply to become a sort of teacher's assistant in a few months on an online academy that he's taken part in the last few months. He would like to develop and iOS app this year, more than a server or a mod. (What?)
I've found out that Noah's feelings are hurt quite easily, and that he's his own biggest critic. That my kiddo has empathy as far as the eye can see, and that it felt emotional to him to cut his cherished, long hair this weekend.

I feel so lucky to have had this time homeschooling so far, getting to know my child better than ever have. I'm grateful for it. Even if he goes back to school next year, to start Middle School like he wants to, so I want him to, because he's my kid and I want him to be happy. (And I love our school.) Where was I? Even if he goes back to school and we just have this year to learn together, it has already still made such a lasting, special memory in my heart and I'm so glad.

P.S. Jon just went downstairs to make sure everything was locked up and all the lights were out. It's midnight. Apparently, Noah is still wide awake. He's been sitting in his bed thinking for the past three hours (about rollerskating) and he came up with a joke: "What is the worst part about having a pig as a brother?" "He's always hogging the toys!" Buh-du-dum. 
wink emotic

P.P.S. Through lots of exploring and trial-and-error, Noah and I have come up with what we think is a truly wonderful and engaging curriculum. I'd love to share with you soon, some of the really neat books and games and websites and learning tools that stand out. You don't have to be a homeschooler to enjoy them, many of what we use would make fantastic, fun gifts or neat activities for the special kid in your life!


Anonymous said...

Hi Lauren. I just wanted to leave a comment to let you know how much I enjoy your posts.
I found your blog when I googled going grey. I have read all your grey hair posts as well as your other posts and Inthink you are a wonderful mother. I just turned 40 and I have been on this grow out adventure for a year now with two round of blending highlights to out smart the skunk stripe! It is quite frustrating and I am thinking about just cutting it all off. I have a 5 year old son and I can't tell you how many times I have contemplated homeschooling. I look forward to reading more about your experience with it. Hope your are staying warm!

Lauren said...

Hi my new friend!!!

Your comment was so lovely. I was just sitting down to write another post and worrying is kid-talk and homeschool talk would be boring to everyone and then I found your note! :)
Thank you so so much. You've helped me get past that worry. <3

I'm glad that the gray hair posts were helpful. THANK YOU for reading all of that!!! WOW!!! I'm sorry that your grow-out is feeling frustrating. I know, it's one of the most difficult things to do, right!? It's not easy. I have to commend you. Really. I cut everything off and for me, it really got the ball rolling. On the other hand though, after a while, I struggled with having short hair and missed my long hair. Actually! I loved having a pixie, that was fun, it was just that mid-lenth time that I felt pretty "blah." That said, if you know that you enjoy having short hair and it feels like "you," I say go for it! You're making me feel like I want a pixie again! LOL. :)

Homeschooling has been such an interesting adventure. I never thought I'd be a homeschooling Mom, but now that I am, I love it! I wish I had some of that time with Noah when he was little. Follow your heart and do what works well for your son and you!

Thank you so much. I'm glad that you're here.

Georgina said...

Yay Lauren, it's all coming together for you and Noah. I would have love to have homeschooled my girls but it's not as common in the UK. My colour is almost gone too, one more cut should do it! X

Lauren said...

Hi Ginny!!! Thank you so much and WOO HOO!!! How exciting for you. A job well done. I'm so happy for you! <3

Thanks for stopping by and sharing. :)

Unknown said...

I dont mind that you share your life and talk about your other adventures, instead of always talking about your white hair(which is so beautiful btw), I am sitting here crying this morning, reading about Noah, I had a child with a lot of anxiety and fears of school and people, he does have other factors that are different than your sons, (bi-polar) but I cant help but think that I wished I was more like you as a mother, maybe I could of done more helped more, so I feel like you are doing a great job raising a wonderful human being for the future generation. You truly are amazing, remember that and treasure your son.

Lauren said...

Dawn, your comment was so touching and beautiful. THANK YOU from the bottom of my heart for your words of encouragement. I am sending you a hug right now and wanting you to know as parents, we DO try our hardest, which I'm sure you did/do too! We're our our worst critics. We can be hard on ourselves. We're still muddling through over here and trying to figure things out, what is going on. Please know that there are many days I don't know the best way to help. Thank you Dawn, really. Sending so much love and gratitude your way today.