Friday, February 10, 2012

When The World Gets Smaller

Last week, when The Princess stayed home from school with me, she felt protected and safe.  She poured her little heart out to me and the little girl still stuck inside felt protected.  There wasn’t a lot of “stuff” going on around in her big world, and she was able to process the things that were happening while in the smaller world of home.  She needed a break.  As soon as she got back to school, things ramped up again.  School is not a safe place for The Princess right now.  Her needs are not being well met there, and I’m tired of “reminding” everyone all the time that she does indeed have special needs.  Since they don’t get to see the fall out (or they ignore it like one teacher did last week), they don’t think there’s anything wrong.

I’ve considered homeschooling The Princess for a long time now.  In fact, I almost pulled her out of public school in January.  I wrote about that struggle a couple of days ago.  It’s a tough decision, but the decision is made.  She’s definitely staying home for 8th grade.  I’m enrolling her in either Alpha Omega’s or ACE’s online academy.  (Leaning toward AO, but not sure yet.)  I’m getting her involved in the local homeschool group, and I’m keeping her away from kids that bring out the worst in her, for at least a little while longer, so she has time to catch up emotionally and hopefully mature to her chronological age.  Her brother came a long way this last year.  In fact, he's been pretty amazing and he's working hard at therapy and in using the tools he's been taught to navigate the world.  I’m hoping for the same in our girl.

Last night, she was going on and on -- just constant chatter -- about boys, and clothes, and mean girl stuff.  She was telling me what she was going to do, and what I was going to buy her, and how things were going to be at school next year.  (Obviously, she forgot WHO she was talking to.)  

I was not going to do it this way.  The talk about homeschool was going to be easy.  I was going to use the calm, sit-down, “we’re doing this to help you” speech at a time when she was quiet and all was well with the world.  Instead, big mouth me blurted out, “But you’re not GOING to XYZ School next year!”  [Cue loud braking sound.]

At first, the claws started to come out.  I could see the rage coming up from her.  I pulled myself back in and calmly said, “And just so you know, I’m not playing the rage game today.”  [Again, cue loud braking sound.]  She quickly realized that wasn’t going to work.  (‘Must be doing SOMETHING right.)

I explained she was going to be homeschooled and that we were going to do a lot of it online with an accredited Christian academy with certified teachers helping us.  I told her about activities and friends with the local home school group.  I told her there would be no need for the list of things she said she "needed" for 8th grade at the middle school.

Next came the pleading and the bargaining.  “But I’ll only have to go to 8th grade at home if I get my grades back up and act better, right?  I’ll still get to go to high school, right?  I want to go to high school!”  I reminded her I don’t make promises other than that I will be here, love her, and take care of her in the way she needs me to, always -- as long as I'm alive.  I am not promising what school will be like in 9th grade.  I am working on 8th grade.  HOWEVER, once we started homeschool, it would not be my preference to go back to public school.  She tried to bargain again.  I said, "I’m finished with this discussion."

I reminded The Princess that I was making decisions to help her do well in life, not to punish her, or to make her life miserable.  She zinged me with, “Yeah, but Dad thinks you’re going to make your own life miserable.”  

I asked her if she WANTED me to be miserable.  She said, “No.”  I said, “Good, because HOW I feel is up to me and I choose to look forward to my time learning, going places, and having FUN with you next year!”  Smile.  Smile.  Tilted head, with shoulders up, goofy smile.

She decided to spend the evening in her room, sulking, writing notes and tearing them up, and reading.  That’s okay.  This morning, she was telling me all about the book she was reading and she was being my sweet girl again.  

I haven’t homeschooled since my youngest bio-boy was in 8th grade.  That was five years ago.  I’m going to have to shake some mental dust off and get organized, but I’m jazzed about it.  Six months to prepare.  I can do this!

1 comment:

Courtney said...

If it goes anything like ours is, the first year may be rough. ;) I've decided this is our training year for HOW to do school at home. We seem to finally be getting into a groove (today doesn't count...*sigh*) and learning how to do schoolwork at home. It's hardest for mama, but I know it is SO worth it!!