Instead of revising, as I should be doing, my mind keeps wandering back to a conversation I had with my oldest nephew last night. It spanned the course of hours. Keep in mind he’s the very definition of a millennial, so this conversation took place entirely via text message and I never once heard his voice (bummer). Also note, our relationship is a little different from the classic “favorite aunt/nephew” roles. I was still a kid when he was born, which was well before the rest of the children in our family came into existence. While I am the “elder” we in a way grew up together. So, we speak very candidly to each other, I may be the only adult in his life that has always treated him as a respected equal (I’m sure I’ll blog more stories about our relationship, as it’s an important one in my life).
The topic of our conversation? Life experiences that my nineteen-year-old nephew is worried my nine-year-old son is missing out on because of … gasp … home school!
My son is gifted. Not in the “oh he’s so much better/smarter/more amazing than the “average” child” way that a lot of parents throw around (ever read Big Little Lies? I loved it, but if you have you know exactly what I mean). But, in the: “I had to pull him out of school because while his grades were perfect he couldn’t understand why nobody else moved at his pace and thus acted out.” He’s not on the spectrum, but has been diagnosed ADHD (impulsive-hyperactive). He was just academically, way to advanced for what they were teaching and there are no real options for gifted children in our local public school system.
Oddly, public school had problems with inattention … because he stopped listening to the teacher the second he realized he knew what she was talking about. NOT because he had a problem paying attention. Trust me, I know, I teach him every day. He has no problem paying attention when he’s learning. But, if he knows already? He checks out. I almost titled this post “Mom, I already know!” because that’s what he tells me now, so that I don’t continue teaching something he’s learned.
I won’t brag about his test scores, that’s obnoxious. I just want it understood why we homeschool. It wasn’t something I set out to do, it just sort-of happened.
Currently, it’s the best option for our family. My nephew informed me last night that, it was in my son’s best interest to go back to public school where he was gain real-life experiences.
Since when is sitting in a room with twenty people the exact same age as you, doing the exact same thing as you are, real life experience? Where will you ever do that again?
His response was that my son needs to learn to not rely on me and that the real world is a rough place and he needs to learn how to deal with idiots.
Let me school him (and share with all of you) on my child’s experience with life experience … as a third grader.
I spend the vast majority of every week driving a nine-year-old to more social engagements than most teenagers I know could even hope for. He has friends, more than a few, that run the gamut from free spirited hippies to conservative political (sort-of) families.
He can have conversations with toddlers and ninety-year-old women. His grandmother is a hair stylist who still works full time. He loves going to work with her and spending his day greeting, talking with, and enjoying people from all walks of life, but especially the older ladies who come in for their wash and sets. Most kids? The second an elderly person asks them a question they clam up. My kid discusses technology they can barely understand with them in a way that is everything but condescending and happily listens to their stories.
He can count back change at restaurants when most millennials have to grasp for their calculators or wait for the screen on the register to tell them how much change to give back. I’ve watched him correct the girl at McDonald’s one day, when she short changed him by ten cents.
He’s an avid cub scout who loves to fish and camp (with GASP, his friends).
He bowls in a league, weekly, where he is surrounded by children and adults of all ages. He doesn’t need a clique, he’ll play with anyone.
He has friends from all religions (atheists to Mormons). Also, a note here, when I mentioned Mormons my “real life experienced” nephew, was aghast I allowed my child to associate with polygamists. My son can quite quickly point out that in the modern LDS church … there’s only one Mom per family. We live in the Southern Baptist Bible Belt. My kid wouldn’t have learned any of that at a public school.
He does field trips almost weekly, learning how real people live and work in real life scenarios (from Amish country to a company that makes and fits prosthetic limbs to goat farms to a world class genetics research institute where he isolated DNA).
Were he in public school he’d be sitting in a desk, being drilled with common core standards, while some other child’s opinion of two hundred dollar shoes becomes his opinion.
Life isn’t like public school. In truth, the biggest culture shock that I can remember was when I graduated high school and thought “now what?”
My son is home schooled. He isn’t isolated or fully dependent on me. He has classes, cop-ops, and that really active social calendar. At nine, he knows what direction he wants his life to take and is already making the curve to eliminate his “now what” moment.
Do I think the public-school system is flawed? Yes. Do I respect teachers that do the job of ten parents every day? Yes (I can’t say this enough; our teachers do the best with a system that is as much as disservice to them as it is to the children they teach, they should be praised for what they accomplish on a daily basis). Do I think our family’s alternative to public education should be what everyone does? No.
It’s best for my son, for our family. And believe me, he’s getting life experience by the bucket full (even dealing with idiots who short change him by ten cents).
I love that my nephew and I can have candid conversations about life experiences he’s yet to have. He himself is smart, caring, and ambitious despite so many challenges wrought from life and from the era he was born into. I thoroughly look forward (with an evil laugh) to the day he has his own children. I know he’ll find himself just as torn by decisions made as a parent as I am now. Just as I think myself a good parent, I know favorite nephew will be an amazing father one day.
My son, well he wants to be a scientist (we are not talking parenthood for him anytime in the next few decades). This week, he dissected cow’s eyeball and brought me souvenir. After relaying the grisly details of how he removed the lens … he showed it to me. So, my gift to you is a little bit of my future scientist’s life experience: