For the past fifteen years more or less I have homeschooled my children most years. The few that we didn’t were pretty much disastrous for everyone.
I mean, getting up at half past six in the morning just to have everyone dressed and to the bus stop on time was a joke when no one went to sleep before eleven or twelve. And then my husband was up and at work by four in the morning. I got no sleep at all. And our son, being autistic and gifted (try that combination any day, I dare you), could not function in a classroom setting without completely shutting down emotionally.
So we opted for what seemed like the best plan for our lives.
It worked for us. We could sleep on our own schedule, we could eat lunch when we were hungry, we could take frequent breaks if we needed, we could tailor the coursework for a gifted autistic child who was reading on a college level by 3rd grade.
But, by no means, were we ever normal. People never let us forget it either. Everyone in our small town seemed to have a reason to condemn us, criticize us, tell us we were wrong, tell us we were bad parents, bad neighbors, bad … everything it seemed. Even the years our kids were in public school, we couldn’t do anything right by them. If we asked for more communication with the teacher, we were wanting too much. If we didn’t show up to a teacher conference because we were working, we were neglecting our child’s education. We couldn’t win.
For years I sat at home by myself wishing that someone, anyone, would come be my friend, would come into our home and learn that we weren’t weird or causing society to run amok. If anyone would have just talked to me, …
But eventually, I got over it. I quit worrying about what society, and this tiny little backasswards town, thought. I was doing what I had to do to survive, to get through life, to raise my child and put food on the table the best way I knew how … and if it didn’t meet with their expectations or desires, oh well.
Eventually, we even adopted another child and became foster parents. Do you know how many hoops you have to jump through for either of those things? And people still thought we were warped. Our neighbors thought we were even more subversive than before because we had mixed race children in our home and kids who’d been in mental homes or jail.
They still don’t get it.
And yet, it’s kind of mutual because I don’t get them … at all. They are what society calls “normal” with a big house and their lawn mowed on schedule and their trees all pruned and their kids sent through public school with all their prejudices and pride on display for the world to see. They brag about their Christianity as if it’s a sweater someone gave them for Christmas or a new car they bought. As if a mowed lawn and pride were the distinguishing characteristics of all that is normal and good in this world. But they are horrible people who treat their neighbors with disdain, kill any animal that dares touch their lawn, and cook drugs in their back shed … not to mention being hoarders who house is stuffed to the gunwales with … junk.
I’m not perfect, Lord knows. I lack patience. I can’t stand my neighbors any more than they can stand me. I tend to drive too fast. And, I like to eat good food. I also have some insane anxiety issues.
But I’m no more abnormal than anyone else. I’m just trying to survive on this planet the best way I can … and God knows that isn’t easy.
So why do I feel so abnormal? And why does doing anything that might be considered normal, give me heart palpitations?
I’m in the process of enrolling our daughter in an online highschool that is run through the public schools in our state. It’s a charter school which will help her pursue her goal of attending college. But the whole process of it is making my head swim, my eyes go blurry, and my breath shallow.
It’s all so … normal.