Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Home Away From Home

Monkey and I have left Mooselandia and are on the road. We will be camping later this week, which should be fun, as long as Monkey's need to explore can be curbed to limits of safety.

All the same, we are now visiting family. And naturally, this means I run up against a slew of arguments that are the opposite side of "let him be a kid."  What I hear here (oh, homophones, how I love them) is that I need to put Monkey into school.  He must be around children his own age. I am doing him a disservice by not enrolling him in grade 1 in the coming fall. He will end up miserable, alone, depressed, friendless, and thoroughly lonely if I insist on keeping him to my apron strings.

A large part of this is everyone's sudden concern for Monkey's social skills. At least when people say "socializing" here, they mean socializing, and they don't confuse socialize and socialization. That's always nice. Anyway, the current proposal is that I should send Monkey to school from 9-3:30 M-F... and then actually teach him myself after school hours. So, Monkey should do the equivalent of double-shift for his education while all his newly made friends are out playing. Thus eliminating any bonuses to his making friends that school provides. However, I know Monkey. And I know what he's like when he's bored. I guarantee he will not sit quietly and do nothing while others are learning things he's known for years. He will run, jump, dance, play, shout, and generally be a kid.  This, however, is problematic in a classroom setting.

But, that's not enough. Because obviously, Monkey will be a leader! He already knows everything, he'll be the natural choice for the head of the pack. This is an antiquated idea from the era when being smart was a good thing. When we needed smart people so we could advance the space program and be the first to put a man on the moon. Nowadays? Now smart is only slightly less cool than head lice. Monkey would not be a leader. He would be ostracized. That's just how it works.

Now, if there was a chance of Monkey receiving an appropriate education in public school, I would consider sending him - and probably would be glad to do it. But as it stands, Monkey would be given no choice but to be placed in grade 1 (for clarity, Monkey is working, on average, at a grade 2 level right now.), and to languish with his age-mates until grade 4, when the district will do testing for specialized services.

But, waiting FIVE FULL YEARS for an appropriate education for my child is not acceptable. I am not choosing to homeschool my child because I want to keep him tied to me until I die. I have no interest in having my son for my best friend. None. I want him to have an appropriate education, and I want him to have it at his own pace. I don't care what I have to do to get this for him. I will make the necessary sacrifices for as long as I have to. Why? Because I am his mother - it is my job to make sacrifices to meet his needs. If my child needed special foods, not one soul would think twice of my making sacrifices to meet his needs, it's what parents DO. But Monkey has special intellectual needs, so now it's all about me, and how I must need to hold him too tightly, how I must be paranoid, how I must think he's a special snowflake... when all I want is what should be his by right: A free and appropriate public education. But, as that is not a possibility in a district that "doesn't believe in" acceleration, I have to make other arrangements. Free is no longer available, nor is public. So I can choose. He can get a free public education that meets none of his needs, or he can get a cost education at home that meets as many as possible. No brainer.

The secondary point, that nobody seems to realize they are making is that in meeting my child's needs, I'm deliberately ignoring his needs. Because I care about his mind, I'm going to be neglectful of his social needs. Of his want for friends, contemporaries, peers. While two days per week in preschool is considered sufficient, two days per week or martial arts plus skating lessons and the local homeschoolers co-op is not. Everyone insists that I am a wonderful parent, not realizing that their concern - his need for social interaction, and how it will not be met at home - is directly implying that I am not only incapable of ensuring this need is met, but also that I am deliberately choosing to ignore his needs... thus making me a terrible parent. When this is brought up, the argument is that I am taking things too personally (is there a more personal decision than how one raises their child?), and that I am reading too much into things.

I understand that everyone cares. But nobody else lives with this child, nobody else fully understands what he is capable of, and nobody else is as immersed in his life as I am. I care more about this child than anyone anywhere else ever will. Insinuating that I would choose not to meet his needs is highly offensive. And so, in order to preserve peace, I have to pretend I don't notice the bigger picture in the arguments, and I have to repeat the mantra "they argue because they care"... and try not to replace "argue" with "complain," or "belittle," or "drive me insane." And I have to let it roll off. If I don't, the hurt will eat me up, and I'll have no one. And that would be a worse travesty than almost anything else.  Anything except not meeting my child's needs.