Tuesday, July 14, 2009

crowing about my kids and why i love friends.

i can be a one woman fan club. not in that i don't think i can do no wrong, just in the things that i choose to do, i do with a combination of dedication and passion, research and intuition. in this i can go forward confidently. i make mistakes, sure, a lot of them, but i only consider them mistakes when i don't try to learn from them.

i am supported by my husband, my family, and my friends.

so when i go about my life and my choices, home birth, co sleeping, extended breastfeeding, home schooling i just assume that the people in my life go right along with me. that they know me, they trust me, they get that i know what i'm doing.

this would be an incorrect assumption. not for all in my life, but for some.

in fact, a dear friend a few years ago actually said something to the effect of

"you know, i was a little skeptical there for awhile about how your kids would turn out. but they're pretty cool."

oh dear. bless the 1000 mile distance between us. because as a parent, those are fightin' words for certain. plus, i'm bigger than him and could fully kick his ass.

he was referring to how long i breastfed them, how we chose to home school.

at first i was a little peeved, how could such a good friend not trust me? then i realized how could he know? he doesn't have kids, doesn't want them. to his mind i was probably doing everything i possibly could to fuck this parenting thing up somehow.

to him, how could i nearly die giving birth at home then go on to choose to do it again? how could sleeping with my child possibly be good for either one of us? and how in the world could i NOT fuck up a boy child by nursing him until he was three and a half? times two!

i was moving forward in full confidence and he was holding his breath on the sidelines.

so i started to realize that just because i have it in me doesn't mean others get it. and that's okay.

and i don't mind telling you that even i look at my kids and do a big old WHEW! because sometimes it doesn't matter what you do as a parent or don't do as a parent. you get what you get. the kid is his own. you're the one who has to adapt. and you're the one who is the first to get blamed.

which brings me to a more recent interaction with another friend. again, no children. he expressed to me that he was impressed with how my kids were both intelligent AND engaged. seemed pleasantly surprised. so i asked

"you mean you were worried they wouldn't be?"

"honestly, yes."

"because of the home schooling? but you know me? didn't you think i could pull it off?"

i think he said no, but i must have blocked that part out. i still want to like him, after all. plus, he's bigger than me. i don't think i could take him.

and the conversation went to what he had thought about it, that he knew how hard it must be to parent let alone be the teacher too, etc. etc. etc.

i would choose to be irritated (and for a minute i was) but i know it comes from a place of love. of caring for me and ultimately my children. that he hadn't seen it, that he just didn't know.

and if you don't see it up close on a day to day basis it can seem so other worldly. they spend all day together, they aren't with other kids their age on a regular basis, what the hell does she know about latin or the fall of the roman empire or split infinitives? and we all know she has NO business teaching anyone any math beyond second grade!

you know, that kind of thing.

all i know is i don't have any concrete answers to other people's skepticism other than come spend the day with my kids. hang out with them and you'll see it isn't weird. that they aren't weird. no weirder than any other kid, that is. that they are both intelligent AND engaged, well rounded, that they haven't been fucked up, and as far as i know have no apparent breast fetishes. yet.

they are snarky and sarcastic and hilarious, too. but now i'm just bragging.

all of this brings me to the following tidbit i'd like to share.

so a little background, recently the duke took his end of the year, two day test. this is a standardized test. (they all are, right?) and i'm not huge on the standardized test, but if you home school in my state you must test your child(ren) every school year. it's incumbent upon the parent to facilitate this, and there are a lot of options.

i feel like the one i chose years ago and we continue to use is one of the best of the bunch. a student cannot pass or fail this test. the results from this test give an "objective picture of how your child or the typical child in a specific grade is progressing in school."

it also shows how a child has progressed in a certain area from year to year, where your child falls in terms of other children in his/her grade. it also shows "the grade level of students for whom a score is average or typical." meaning that the test measures your child's answer and determines what grade level that answer/thought process matches. for instance "a grade equivalent of 4.5 means that the child's score is about the same as what the typical score of children in the fifth month of the fourth grade would have been if these children had taken the same test."

so i'm explaining this all to the same friend who expressed his pleasant surprise at how intelligent AND engaged my children were. and i'm further explaining that it doesn't mean that they are ready or able to do the work of that grade, but how they measure the maturity of the thought process and match it to the grade level.

"and you know what for the duke? in every area except reading vocabulary, which he scored 12.3 in, he scored PHS, which is post high school!"

then there was a moment when i was beaming. all happy to share this news. and i assumed he was taking in the awesomeness, further seeing how fabulous this home schooling thing was going. how wrong he had previously been in his worrying, and i was assuming full vindication was mine. then he said

"so what you're saying is, the duke can think like and solve problems the same way a college freshman would."

oh. and indeed.

to spite myself, i laughed.

and there you have it. because if your friends can't support you and love you AND give you shit then who can?

and having friends who can bring you down a peg or two is actually a gift. smack worthy, but a gift. because if you can't laugh with others at your own expense, where's the fun in life?

yes, the control freak has learned to laugh at herself.

will wonders never cease?

let's hope not.


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