I try to write encouraging and uplifting stories of our family and journey through adoption. I can thankfully say now that I have happy memories of some family events. However, for years I had very few positive things to say about our adoption story. Every event, family gathering, and every.single.day was marred by one or more children sabotaging the “good stuff” of our family.
And homeschooling? It was a nightmare. An absolute nightmare. Only in the last few months (see here and here ) have we begun to emerge from years of struggle, frustration, playing dumb and direct disobedience in regards to schoolwork. “I don’t know,” “I can’t remember,” “you didn’t tell me that” and “I forgot” were our constant companions. I cannot emphasize enough that this happened daily, hourly, minute by minute.
Unfortunately, the danger in believing my children are “healed” is in expecting them not to return to the old behaviors they used to cope with their feelings. Why is this dangerous? Because when I expect them to react “normally” or do their work “like a normal kid” they return to the previous coping skills that make me crazy.
Lest anyone think I have this all figured out (which you’d hope I would after 18 years of homeschooling) we still have so many struggles. Our Ancient Rome unit study was a blast and something we worked on for weeks. Yet, sitting down at dinner the very next night, my two couldn’t tell me where Rome was. I can’t even remember their answers because they were so far fetched but Italy was not one of them. Again, tonight as I’m correcting some map work M can’t tell me what a closed circle represents on a map (a city), calls Milan the country of Italy and doesn’t know what geographic term represents where he lives (city).
As I try to keep my head above water and not lose heart at my kids’ obvious lack of retention and skills, I have to take a step back and look at what is going on in our family. I have been gone for three weekends straight. Yup, never happened before. EVER. Not even two weekends in a row. This past weekend was a surprise anniversary trip to the mountains following our surprise (to me) 25th anniversary vow renewal ceremony. My two youngest didn’t know anything was up until the second we left for dinner out and their older sister gave them their marching orders. They kept it together, packed and made it through the ceremony and reception without me noticing anything about them! They spent three nights with their sister in a strange apartment with no structure and no parents. S had some real struggles with her big sister and we’re still dealing with the fallout from that. Something is just not right. But considering, they survived and Tim and I were able to have a couple of fabulous days away.
As a homeschooler I emphasize relationship over strict academic work. I think I’m at the point where I have to take my own advice and work them through their big feelings and back off some of the more advanced school subjects (pre-algebra and grammar) and beat out some basic facts. Not my idea of a fun time, but it appears to be what they need. So tonight I’m printing off some worksheets and walking away from the corrections. Tomorrow is a new day.