Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Destroying Innocence

Just a quick note to tell you how I completely crushed the innocence of my 10 year old daughter, Amelia.

While sitting around the table, working on Christmas presents, I decided that Enoch and Amelia (12 and 10 1/2) were old enough to hear the big, fat truth about the guy in red. I asked Enoch and Amelia if they knew about Santa, and Enoch said, "Yeah, I've known for a while. Nathan told me a long time ago." Amelia, stunned, said "What do you mean?" "Well, there's no ONE PERSON that is Santa. Santa is actually the spirit of giving that is in all of us. When you're little, the best way to show a child is by using a wonderful, jolly, bearded man to represent this. But, now that you're older, I just wanted to make sure you know. I also wanted to know if you guys want to help fill the stockings and set out the presents this year?" Enoch was eccstatic, saying "I was going to write you a letter and ask you if I could!!" Amelia simply said "Oh. I wondered why I found the boxes from the fruit snacks (we had put in their stockings the previous year) in the basement. I never ate them because I always wondered how old the food was, so I always threw it away."

We kept working a while, then I said, "Do you guys want to know how I learned about the Easter Bunny?" Amelia's face was totally blank and she said, "What do you mean?".

Time froze for just a moment.

Do I let my beautiful, innocent, 10 yr old girl remain in fairytale land a little longer, or do I bring my huge massive boot down to crush her little innocence into a million pieces. "Uhhhhh. The Easter Bunny isn't real either, Mimi."

Big Boot.

"It ISN'T?!" She said, mortified. I might as well have brought in a cute bunny and savagely beat it to death in front of her.

Maybe it's the Asperger's that makes her sweetly gullible, or maybe just because she's related to my side of the family (remind me to tell you about optional stop signs), but while she finally grasped the concept of Santa, apparently it stopped there.

"The Tooth Fairy, however is very real." I replied. She seemed content in knowing that.

You'll probably be seeing us on Dr. Phil.

Merry Christmas!


Friday, December 14, 2007

Confession time

It's 3:59 AM. I thought Dr. Pepper and I had a mutual understanding. I would drink it, and it would keep me awake during the day, enough to accomplish just enough to be useful. Well, he certainly went a little overboard this time, hence the early morning blog.

Now, to get a few things off my chest from tonight.

We have 5 children, as most of you know, and four of them sleep in one of the bedrooms in two sets of bunkbeds. Each night we go through this ritual of: Parents: "Good night guys, turn your lights out and NO TALKING"
Kids: Giggling and laughing "Did you guys here something?" "Nope." "Me neither." "Check this stuff out, it sounds like a REAL FART!"
*Loud obnoxious noise followed by peals of laughter*
The Baby: Knowing she's being left out of all the fun "I sweep wiff guys. Pweeeese! I sweep wiff guys."
Parents: "See, now you've gone and woken the baby! Now GET INTO BED AND KNOCK IT OFF!
Kids: "Shhhhhh. I think they heard us." "What now?" "Maybe we should lay down."
*Intense fits of laughter mixed with shhhhhh*
Parents: "Do you think that we can't hear that?! Well, we can hear every word, EVERY SINGLE WORD!" (okay, get ready for the part I will need to repent of later) "And even if we don't hear it, we have it all recorded on the hidden camera!"
*dead silence*
Dad: "Huh?" Mom: "Just go with me on this one."
*a few minutes pass*
Kid: "Mooooooooom."
Mom, entering kids room: "What. You guys are supposed to be asleep."
Kids: "What do you mean a hidden camera?"
Mom: "You know those cameras that are so small they can fit in a pin-sized hole, or a teddy bears eye? It can pick up the image of an entire room, even in pitch black, and it has remarkable sound quality."
Kids (thouroughly intrigued, scanning every inch of the room with their eyes, paying close attention to their stuffed animals): "You mean you're, like, watching us on a TV?"
Mom, knowing that she must answer carefully or they will hamm it up for the camera: "No, it's automatically downloaded onto a safedrive on the computer where we can access any specific time or date."
Kids, surprised that Mom knows anything about a computer: "Oooooooooh."
Mom: "Don't go looking for it either, because if you find it, it means you will have broken it, and that's a very expensive piece of equipment." (Yeah, like the cost of selling your soul for some much needed quiet time)
*10 minutes later*
Kids: "Mom. Would the light burn it up or catch it on fire?"
Kid: "Mom. I think Aidan found the camera and broke it!"
Mom: "No he didn't. If he had, a loud shrieking alarm would have gone off on the computer, summoning the local police department that our monitor had been tampered with. Now GO TO SLEEP!!"
*15 minutes pass, a little footy-pajamad boy slinks into the living room rubbing his eyes. He carefully approaches his Mom and whispers in her ear*
Kid: "Mom, I found the camera, but I didn't break it. I just wanted you to know that I know where it is and I won't touch it, that way if it gets broken, you'll know it wasn't me."
Mom: "Thanks sweetie. Good night."
Kid: "'Night."

So there it is. My confession. I'm not sufficiently humble yet to tell the truth, but I feel a little better getting it off of my chest with you. Now for the second one:

I woke up at 1:24 this morning, and my mind drifted to the refrigerator we have in our garage. In it contains a bowl of sugar cookie dough. Calling me....inviting me....tempting me. Some of you may, or may not know, that I have recently lost 55 lbs, so I was certain the beckoning came straight from the devil himself. I am proud to say that I resisted him. at 1:25 in the morning. At 3:31 in the morning, however, I gave in, went to the freezing cold garage and got me a handful of dough. Closing the fridge, I turned around and realized that if this wasn't enough and I wanted more, I'd have to go all the way out to the cold garage again (the thought never occurred to me that I could just go without), so I turned around and got another handful. Yes, no spoon, completely primitive. I walked back to bed, eating my handful of dough. After finishing the first, and setting the second on my nightstand while I snuggled into bed, full and happy, I realized that when the kids woke up, there would be the cookie dough- totally busted. So I did the only reasonable thing and unreasonable person would do. I ate the rest of it. So here I am, confessing, and wishing that I could throw up. I never want to see cookie dough again. That's what I get.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

A Final Farewell to a long lost friend

Today we mourn the passing of a beloved old friend, Common Sense, who has been with us for many years. No one knows for sure how old he was since his birth records were long ago lost in bureaucratic red tape. He will be remembered as having cultivated such valuable lessons as knowing when to come in out of the rain, why the early bird gets the worm, life isn't always fair, and maybe it was my fault.

Common Sense lived by simple, sound financial policies (don't spend more than you earn) and reliable parenting strategies (adults, not children are in charge). His health began to deteriorate rapidly when well intentioned but overbearing regulations were set in place. Reports of a six-year-old boy charged with sexual harassment for kissing a classmate; teens suspended from school for using mouthwash after lunch; and a teacher fired for reprimanding an unruly student, which only worsened his condition.

Common Sense lost ground when parents attacked teachers for doing the job they themselves failed to do in disciplining their unruly children. It declined even further when schools were required to get parental consent to administer Aspirin, sun lotion or a sticky plaster to a student, but could not inform the parents when a student became pregnant and wanted to have an abortion.

Common Sense lost the will to live as the Ten Commandments became contraband; churches became businesses; and criminals received better treatment than their victims.

Common Sense took a beating when you couldn't defend yourself from a burglar in your own home and the burglar can sue you for assault.

Common Sense finally gave up the will to live, after a woman failed to realize that a steaming cup of coffee was hot. She spilled a little in her lap, and was promptly awarded a huge settlement.

Common Sense was preceded in death by his parents, Truth and Trust; his wife, Discretion; his daughter, Responsibility; and his son, Reason. He is survived by three stepbrothers; I Know my Rights, Someone Else is to Blame, and I'm a Victim. Not many attended his funeral because so few realized he was gone.

-Author unknown

Thursday, December 06, 2007

A Bitter Homeschoolers Wish List

I'm not the bitter homeschooler. At least not this year. I'm still in the "overwhelmed homeschooler" stage. I've only come across a few people that find what I'm doing to my children repulsive. That's okay, I've seen their kids, and knowing they were brought up in public school, I know I can't do any worse. So, enjoy the brilliance of someone else for a change:

1 Please stop asking us if it's legal. If it is — and it is — it's insulting to imply that we're criminals. And if we were criminals, would we admit it?

2 Learn what the words "socialize" and "socialization" mean, and use the one you really mean instead of mixing them up the way you do now. Socializing means hanging out with other people for fun. Socialization means having acquired the skills necessary to do so successfully and pleasantly. If you're talking to me and my kids, that means that we do in fact go outside now and then to visit the other human beings on the planet, and you can safely assume that we've got a decent grasp of both concepts.

3 Quit interrupting my kid at her dance lesson, scout meeting, choir practice, baseball game, art class, field trip, park day, music class, 4H club, or soccer lesson to ask her if as a homeschooler she ever gets to socialize.

4 Don't assume that every homeschooler you meet is homeschooling for the same reasons and in the same way as that one homeschooler you know.

5 If that homeschooler you know is actually someone you saw on TV, either on the news or on a "reality" show, the above goes double.

6 Please stop telling us horror stories about the homeschoolers you know, know of, or think you might know who ruined their lives by homeschooling. You're probably the same little bluebird of happiness whose hobby is running up to pregnant women and inducing premature labor by telling them every ghastly birth story you've ever heard. We all hate you, so please go away.

7 We don't look horrified and start quizzing your kids when we hear they're in public school. Please stop drilling our children like potential oil fields to see if we're doing what you consider an adequate job of homeschooling.

8 Stop assuming all homeschoolers are religious.

9 Stop assuming that if we're religious, we must be homeschooling for religious reasons.

10 We didn't go through all the reading, learning, thinking, weighing of options, experimenting, and worrying that goes into homeschooling just to annoy you. Really. This was a deeply personal decision, tailored to the specifics of our family. Stop taking the bare fact of our being homeschoolers as either an affront or a judgment about your own educational decisions.

11 Please stop questioning my competency and demanding to see my credentials. I didn't have to complete a course in catering to successfully cook dinner for my family; I don't need a degree in teaching to educate my children. If spending at least twelve years in the kind of chew-it-up-and-spit-it-out educational facility we call public school left me with so little information in my memory banks that I can't teach the basics of an elementary education to my nearest and dearest, maybe there's a reason I'm so reluctant to send my child to school.

12 If my kid's only six and you ask me with a straight face how I can possibly teach him what he'd learn in school, please understand that you're calling me an idiot. Don't act shocked if I decide to respond in kind.

13 Stop assuming that because the word "home" is right there in "homeschool," we never leave the house. We're the ones who go to the amusement parks, museums, and zoos in the middle of the week and in the off-season and laugh at you because you have to go on weekends and holidays when it's crowded and icky.

14 Stop assuming that because the word "school" is right there in homeschool, we must sit around at a desk for six or eight hours every day, just like your kid does. Even if we're into the "school" side of education — and many of us prefer a more organic approach — we can burn through a lot of material a lot more efficiently, because we don't have to gear our lessons to the lowest common denominator.

15 Stop asking, "But what about the Prom?" Even if the idea that my kid might not be able to indulge in a night of over-hyped, over-priced revelry was enough to break my heart, plenty of kids who do go to school don't get to go to the Prom. For all you know, I'm one of them. I might still be bitter about it. So go be shallow somewhere else.

16 Don't ask my kid if she wouldn't rather go to school unless you don't mind if I ask your kid if he wouldn't rather stay home and get some sleep now and then.

17 Stop saying, "Oh, I could never homeschool!" Even if you think it's some kind of compliment, it sounds more like you're horrified. One of these days, I won't bother disagreeing with you any more.

18 If you can remember anything from chemistry or calculus class, you're allowed to ask how we'll teach these subjects to our kids. If you can't, thank you for the reassurance that we couldn't possibly do a worse job than your teachers did, and might even do a better one.

19 Stop asking about how hard it must be to be my child's teacher as well as her parent. I don't see much difference between bossing my kid around academically and bossing him around the way I do about everything else.

20 Stop saying that my kid is shy, outgoing, aggressive, anxious, quiet, boisterous, argumentative, pouty, fidgety, chatty, whiny, or loud because he's homeschooled. It's not fair that all the kids who go to school can be as annoying as they want to without being branded as representative of anything but childhood.

21 Quit assuming that my kid must be some kind of prodigy because she's homeschooled.

22 Quit assuming that I must be some kind of prodigy because I homeschool my kids.

23 Quit assuming that I must be some kind of saint because I homeschool my kids.

24 Stop talking about all the great childhood memories my kids won't get because they don't go to school, unless you want me to start asking about all the not-so-great childhood memories you have because you went to school.

25 Here's a thought: If you can't say something nice about homeschooling, don't say anything at all!