Thursday, February 15, 2007


I used to think having little ones was the hard part of being a parent. They're so needy and have no language skills or patience. But it turns out I'm still waiting for the easy part to begin. I wonder about when we need to persist, and when we need to follow our instincts about something that doesn't seem to be working.

Right now I am really beginning to question my decisions about my kids. The Dark Lord really wanted to learn to play guitar and we figured that could start immediately post bar mitzvah when he'd have a bit more time. We found a teacher who is highly recommended for both his technical skills and his teaching ability. Generous friends gave the boy a lovely guitar as a bar mitzvah gift and he was quite excited to get started. He was thrilled after the first lesson but as time has gone on he shows less and less enthusiasm for learning. I know it's hard going starting a new skill and he doesn't love to work hard. But he leaves his lessons so visibly unhappy now and has begun to show less and less interest in practicing. It may be that he's simply having to confront the difficulty of learning a new skill. Or it may be that his teacher's expectations and virtuosity are intimidating and taking any possible joy out of learning. I don't know if I should push him to stick with it or honor his feeling that it’s not a good fit.

Perhaps if this weren't coming on the heels of the charter school disaster, I'd have a bit more clarity about how to handle things. That experience was clearly not working well and MonkeyBoy's improved behavior since we took him out should be all the validation I need. But I still worry that maybe I've encouraged them to believe that when things get tough it's OK to cut and run.

I envy all those homeschooling parents who declare with confidence that we must trust that our children will learn what they need and they'll turn out just fine if we just let them be. If any of you folks are reading do you do it? Where does that confidence come from? I find myself less and less sure about the wisdom of homeschooling these beautiful kids of mine while, at the same time, I'm as unwilling as ever to throw them in to the competitive and conformist world of institutional schooling. What's a mom to do?

All I want, really, is to have a few days now and then when I feel confident that I'm doing the right thing with my kids.

1 comment:

beth h said...

Disclaimer: NOT a parent.

That said, I think that anyone who chooses to home-school their kids is already a fiercely independent thinker, dares to live and dream slightly outside the box, and has a vision of helping their kids find their own good path that does not involve traditional institutions' methods -- or controls.

Remember that you have resources available to you, precisely BECAUSE you choose to step outside the parameters! Your decision opens up your thinking, and yur possibilities. Those resources include such radical things as: Portland FreeSkool; Ethos Music Center; Community Cycling Center; and adult friends who are happy to be a presence in your kids' lives and help them find their own good paths.

Lemme take the boy on a few bike rides this spring -- if he'd like to come along -- and see what develops.
Cheers --B