It is the worst reoccurring moment of my time as a Dad of four homeschooled kids. In reality it only takes a couple of seconds but it seems like a lifetime. Everything moves in slow motion as I seem to confirm every bad stereotype of homeschool families and people suspect that my children are secretly assembling electronics in a suburban sweat shop or reenacting the Lord of the Flies in the backyard. Whilst their peers are off preparing for corporate jobs of awesomeness, the homeschoolers are perpetually eating paste.
I am talking about the gaping chasm of time that spans from when some well meaning nosey as all get out busybody (actually friendly neighbor Bob) dares to ask me what grade my children are currently in school and when I finally get the courage to truthfully answer that I just don’t know.
There I said it, the awful truth is out there. Are you Happy NOW? (OK, I am back after a good storm off and cry — Scarlett O’Hara would be proud). Yes it is true, other than right about now when they are switching grades, for most of the year I usually can’t recall off the top of my head what grade my kids are doing at school.
When asked, the desire to lie and make up grades for them is always there in my mind and time seems to stand still while I wrestle with that. As it is a wrong to lie, I don’t and that just adds to the awkward pause — it does take time to mentally pat yourself on the back you know.
Then there is the frantic calculation in my head based upon my kids ages trying to match the ages with the expected grades in public school. Determined concentration is etched on my face and sweat breaks out as I trot out the white board and sliderule to try to solve this great puzzle.
Meanwhile, the casual questioner awaits my answer to what was supposed to be meaningless small talk. I just can’t take the pressure I tell you, I am just a homeschool dad, Jim!
So yes, I don’t regularly remember what grade my children are in and the world thinks that is weird. But frankly, aside from moments of existential crisis in the aisles of Walmart when I succomb to neighbor Bob interrogation , I am ok with it. Really!
As a homeschool family, we made a decision to check out of the public school system for a large number of reasons. One of the primary reasons, though,was to separate our kids from the expectations and teachings of the world. As a father who loves Jesus and who will answer to the Lord for my stewardship of my children, where the school system says my kids should be and what their peers are doing just does not interest me. Jesus says they should be following Him not the local curriculum. I am trying to raise a godly young man not a stereotypical 12th grader and as a result would rather discuss the Battle of Normandy with my youngest when he is supposedly too young for that or recreate the Wookie planet in Lego when my older children are supposedly too old for that than worry about what the world says certain ages should be doing.
The result is that my children sometimes act too young for their age and sometimes act too old for their age according to the world. The older guys take time and are happy to play little kids games with the younger children at church. They also sit and talk with the adults about politics or current events. My daughter giggles with the toddlers and pulls her hair out debating over Hilary v Donald with the rest of us. Their path is always towards adulthood following Jesus and not towards being on grade level.
They are just so badly adjusted to their grade expectations – I am a monster, I know.
So despite my best intentions, I can’t explain this to Neighbor Bob in Home Depot and he likely thinks I am insane or take to drinking and shopping but that is ok. Why? Because homeschool is working just as planned – conforming my kids to the pattern of Jesus and not the school system.