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Friday, February 10, 2012

Day Zero

Hello, my name is Tracy.  I think I'm a homeschooler.

After all the years of thinking, discussing, reviewing.  After the pondering, worrying, planning.  I interviewed, emailed and researched.  The day had come to remove the Banker from public school in Austin, Texas. 

Quick background;  Normal, happy, healthy, well adjusted kid.  Loads of friends, athletic, popular, a straight A student perpetually on Honor Roll and Student of the Month at the middle school.  He's in National Junior Honor Society and Latin club.  Sure, doesn't it seem perfectly reasonable to yank his butt out of public school, 2/3 into the year?  SURE, nothing odd there.

The Banker and I are very close.  He tells me everything, shares his thoughts, fears and concerns easily and without holding anything back...ever.  I'm blessed with this relationship.  Some of my friends' 12 year olds have entered their dreaded pre-teen "don't speak to me I won't speak to you just do my laundry and feed me, stupid" phase.  I truly don't think the Banker and I will go there.  Sure, he has his angst ridden periods where he'll mope, snip and storm away but they are short lived bursts and they are always followed by him coming to me and talking to me about what made him frantic or angry.  I am lucky and I know it.

I, am a free spirit.  I was born in the 60's to a free thinking mother.  My son, however, is not; my beloved is a frequently uptight, rule following, rule making, schedule requiring banker man who asked for a suit and tie for his 3rd birthday.  I equate our relationship to me being the squiggle and he being the straight line.  

I must add there is a beloved and bemused husband/father here.  He rolls his eyes a lot. We have had a long standing unspoken agreement that he is hunter gatherer and I am on child and on school.  It works.  I pull him in as the muscle, the support as required.  Not abusing his services has perpetually resulted in spectacularly speedy responses and general success. I presented him a paper outlining my research and plans for this venture and he looked at me and simply asked, "can you do this?".  I answered him in my best fake brave, "yeah, I can do this".   It was with those two sentences that this venture's wheels began to roll.

I felt sick.

The Banker has complained for years that his education is being interrupted by annoying other students who won't sit down, shut up, listen, learn or pay any attention.  He's come home for weeks telling me he's spent time math or English or social studies; waiting for everyone to catch up.  Really? I think the sentence that burned into my head was the, "I just wish the kids would bother to want to learn something".  That was the seed I think.

There's a myriad of reasons that led to the final JUST DO IT NOW but the most compelling, for me, is that I feel the world closing around him.  I don't want him to settle for ordinary if he doesn't have to. I feel the window of opportunity disappearing.  He's half way through 7th grade.  I have the time, the inclination, the power to home school him.  I'm smart enough and I can find what he needs.  I was an private and then public investigator for years (before that pesky motherhood moment) as well as a writer...I cook and I've taught.  That's got to count for something.

We had decided he'd been withdrawn at the end of 7th grade.  I didn't like that, don't want to start a new year without knowing what on earth I'm doing.  How bout after spring break?  I didn't like that, too close to the end of the year.  February 16!  It's the end of a 6 week unit, everything will be complete for him.  Yes!  A DATE!

The Banker wanted to know when we'd picked a date, he wanted notice so he could say good bye.  I failed my first test and told him with 2 weeks notice.  He fell apart.  He talked about it constantly, requiring constant reassurance down to the most minute detail, "what will we have for breakfast on day 2, in case I don't get up with my alarm?"

OH, bless your heart, I have broken you!  I haven't even started and look what I'm doing to YOU!  

He started to come home from school on the edge of tears every day.  He didn't hand in a assignment on time *gasp* that never happens!  He worried, fretted, panicked and was in a weird state of limbo.

I felt sick.

He came home from school on Friday, February 3 and I said, "that's IT, we're DONE".  He tearfully requested, "just one more A day and one more B day, mom, please, so I can say good bye".  I begrudgingly agreed.  True to form, the little putzes at school spent those two days assuring the Banker he was entering into a hellish, lonely, friendless, dark, educational void.  Nice. Idiots.

I had a sick feeling in my stomach all day and actually sat in the parking lot of the school for 1/2 an hour before I went in.  Assured I was wrong, stupid, and perched on the precipice  about to permanently scar, and break, the one person who needs me to be right.

February 7, 2012, 1pm.  I went into the school with paperwork, his books, my long explanation as to what I was doing, what i was going to do.  I had my plans and arguments. 

"Withdrawing a student? Ok, tick the moving or home school box.  Oh, home schooling? Then sign this one saying you're homeschooling.  We'll send him out at the end of the day with his grades.  Thanks, see you, good luck". 

8 years of public school, of being involved, being the room parent, the school artist. I've given as many hours as he has to this school system and one gives a damn.  He's been a rock star, I've been one of those parents everyone just knows. We've both worked our hearts out for the school system.  After 8 years our farewell is THAT?  I don't know what I thought or expected but somehow, the experience of the big withdrawal left me...limp.  I knew no one cared but I didn't realize no one cared.

The Banker came to the car after school with his backpack, his books and the lock from his locker.  He wasn't in tears.  He wasn't weepy.  Success #1, perhaps, just perhaps he had some faith in what we were about to do.  OR, more likely, the poor kid didn't have a clue. 

He handed me a few stapled papers with current grades on them in non matching pens and I thought, "wow, this is the sum of his 8 years?" 

He looked happy enough, ready for an adventure.  He'd been the star of the day, telling his friends he was leaving to home school.  I don't think any of their parents believed them but the children were jerks about it.  *I can say that stuff, it's MY blog*  Really?  

I feel sick.

I joyfully and solidly reassure the Banker he won't become a hermit or Quasimodo or a serial killer.  He WILL go out and see people and he'll meet new people too.  Me too!  

He wasn't teary (he had been the days leading up to day zero).  I was.  

Ok, tomorrow we get up and organize, plan and schedule ourselves into a frenzy.  I'm ready, I have all my supplies, web sites, links and a bought curriculum.  

It's all us now, here we forge bravely into the unknown.  I have everything I need and every resource under the sun.  

But, what if I break him?

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