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Saturday, May 07, 2011

Saturday Morning Ramblings.

Normally this would be a late night rambling, but as I threw 100 bales late last night, entertained some bikers later into the night, and passed out even later, you get stuck with a midmorning ramble. It might not be as nearly entertaining. I will apologize in advance for that. While I got you here, there is a sleeper blog that I want you to check out, Slowly She turned. Saturday's are coffee pot posts, but I have been reading Laurie for, what has it been now? 5 years?

A post from a fellow blogger has had me thinking. I will not be giving a shout out to the blog mainly because I like this person, and the last time a similar thought came up and I linked to the post such the teen drama broke out that I was pushed to resign from a "club". Though to this day I don't believe I did anything wrong, just disagreed and stated my point of view. I told you. . . rambling. . .

So the thought is. . . is it possible to raise well adjusted children in a public school environment?

I don't shelter my boys. I have rules, but they seem lenient when I compared them with other parents around me. But I am also the youngest parent in the arena. There are no kids in the area Medium or Small's age, only a grandkid that comes to visit. And the children that are Large's age, the parents are 15 - 20 years older than me. Yes Husband and I are the youngest couple out here.

Large's hair is blue. This apparently is an issue. Husband was talking with some neighbors about a mile out and they asked what was up with Large's hair. Husband replied, he is getting into character. I have been trying to think why this is such a big deal. He is young, he wants to play, to be expressive, to get stared at. But he isn't a punk (he's anime, ha!). The boy is a math genius like his father.

Large goes anime

Maybe it is because I am so much younger that I don't find a problem with this. My hair has been many many colors. So many and so long in fact, that I forgot what my natural color was. But I grew up with this, and my friends were just as odd. But they were on the debate club, honor roll, track and swim teams and 1 was our Valedictorian. We played D&D and Masquerade. We never got into trouble with the law. But we were ridiculed by our peers only because of how we looked. No one looked at our intellectualness and teased us for being geeks, or the fact that I spent an entire year speaking in Elizabethan poetry form (math was an interesting class. I think the teacher had me answer more questions out loud than anyone else just to see if I could keep it up) We were the outcast because of how we looked.

I warned Large about all this when he first suggested blue hair. ( remember we are rambling here, will get back to the question soon) People would no longer see him as the mathematician, but they would only see the blue. He understood but still wanted to proceed. I have no qualms about it. It is better to do it now and get it out of his system before he gets into the work force.

But something happened, society changed on me. I am the bad parent for allowing it. Maybe it didn't change, maybe my role it it all has. Well of course it has, I am the parent now, not the odd child. But my hair is raspberry color, so I shrug it off. I know what I am and so does my Husband and kids. That's what matters.

I digress, I get reports from other parents. My boys are chivarious ( which we do not find to be sexist in any way) polite, and compassionate when needed. Well behaved to the point that it seems to shock parents. However once home they are spawns from Hell.

I try to give my boys a nice well rounded existence, from pop culture to our laid back homesteading ways. They don't seem to be conflicted about this. They know how to use electronics and machinery, as well as hand and from scratch work. Husband was hesitant about the computer in the beginning, but I explained that I don't want my children to be workhorses, that they should be allowed to experience everything they can so that once older they can decide how their lives will be. With Husband's injuries, he understood and allowed it.

Our pop culture exposes the boys to many things, points of views and the such. We talk about things, they ask about things, and we allow them to come to their own opinions about it. The ages make their conclusions different, but they are becoming their own persons.

We teach them how to do many things with only their hands. Teaching them the benefit of hard work. Medium has decided that this is not for him, and will procrastinate on his chores. He gets punished the most, but I chalk that up to being rebellious. The boys find it difficult to rebel from us. This is one way, and I don't like it. But he will out grow it, like we all have. He will get tired of the punishments and conform to what we expect from him. Once out on his own, he can do what he wishes.

I came from a very liberal family. Very few rules. I did pretty much what I wanted when I wanted. Husband however came from a very strict family. I rebelled and freaked out young, while Husband did after he turned 18 and moved out of the house. By the time I was 18, most of it was out of my system. No more drugs, and I was fine with settling down with Husband. Husband, who is 5 years older than me, still was rebelling. He was 25 before he cleaned up his act. And that was only because of Large's birth. Husband and I have decided to attempt to find a happy medium. Which is better, being strict and sheltering, or free and accommodating? We try to find the balance between both worlds. It isn't easy.

Homeschooling isn't for us. I m sorry, but we tried. Our public school system isn't the greatest, however we have had only a few problems, (and Small's situation has been rectified, though I still have issues with the bully policies). My boys interact with a wide variety of individuals. Their friend list seem eclectic to me. Not something that in my schools days would have happened. Jocks to stoners can be found playing D&D at my home. And no, I don't believe that Large is smoking. In fact he has got a couple of kids to stop. He has dreams and aspirations and so far has chosen not to disrupt them.

Some of these kids that come around are punks. Straight out punks. Disrespectful and possibly criminals. Their parents seem oblivious to this fact, and claim that Large is the bad influence. My child doesn't have a juvenile record like yours. But that doesn't mean Large didn't convince them to do something. I am not stupid, my children are capable of anything, and I wouldn't put it past them. I will never deny or lay blame on someone else if they end up doing something bad. However in the instances so far, Large is not the person that is the problem.

So my boys are indeed in the public school system. However I do not leave their education completely up to them.

Will the public school system corrupt my boys? Indoctrinate them into 1 way of thinking? It could if I allowed it. Parents really ought to be more involved. If a parent isn't very interested in their child's life, then the cliques will become that child's family. I know from experience. I was too free. But if a parent is too strict the child will end up rebelling to dangerous levels.

I do think that you can raise a well adjust child with in the public schools system, as long as you keep involved. But I guess only time will tell and prove me right or wrong.

Enjoy the ramble. . .
(this was not in any way an anti homeschooling post)


SkippyMom said...

With 5 kids that went through the public school system [one is still there at 13] we have one in college on scholarship, one in the military serving his country, one who is in management and earns enough to support himself at 21 and Pooldad's eldest owned her own home at 21 [she is now 22]. So, in my opinion public schools can work but the trick, imo, is parental involvement. Know the teachers, know the homework, know the rules of the school and most of all know your kids' friends.

Kids don't come with manuals and I don't claim to be a perfect parent [so far from it], but basic common sense goes a long way to navigating the public school system. The resources are there, it is what you and your children do with them that is important.

All that said, I think homeschooling is just fine and works for 1,000s of families. Heck, two of the last five Scripps Spelling Bee Winners were homeschooled children - I say to each his own. Do what is best for you and what is within your comfort zone.

I would never deign to tell someone their choice was wrong in regards to their kids - the same as I don't expect anyone to tell me how to raise mine.

[wow, that was really long.]

Bob from Athens said...

Amen to parental involvemen! Just like a garden, you cannot just plant the seeds and come back three months or so later and harvest a great crop. Neither can you turn the kids loose and check in years later and hope to find a courteous well mannered adult. I think one of the biggest problems today is that some parents are afraid of making their kids mad and losing them to the point that the kids rule the place. Again just like in the garden you can't start a tree off and forget about it and expect to find a straight well balanced tree, and neither can you try to straighten it up once every year or so. On the other hand it only takes a few gentle nudges here and there to keep it on the straight and narrow, if you start when they are young.

kath said...

I agree with SkippyMom. If your kid is a good kid, they'll do well wherever they are. If they're not, they'll find trouble or it will find them. Parental involvement makes all the difference in any kind of educational setup you have. We weren't overly strict with our kids. They were taught early on what is right & wrong, and they were disciplined only when necessary. We saw a lot of kids from families that were too strict and controlling, and the kids were scared to make decisions on their own and later rebelled and made really bad decisions, or the parents were too liberal and the kids were roaming the streets at all hours of the night. There's a happy medium.
My kids went to both public & Catholic schools at various times during their childhoods and they're doing fine. Don't sweat it. If they're happy, well adjusted kids, then you're doing something right.
As for the blue hair, go for it! Tell your neighbors that your choosing your battles and this one isn't a big deal when you look at the big picture. If this is the worst thing they can say about him, you're very lucky. Some people need a life, don't they?
I also think that in this day and age, kids NEED to have computer skills to compete in the world, so getting one was a good thing for your kids. It definitely gives them an edge when they look for jobs and colleges and whatever they end up doing with their lives.
You're a good Mom. Your kids will be just fine. Don't let the haters get to you!

Alex said...

I think it can absolutely be done. I'm a product of public schools as are my sister and brother. We're all grown and all productive members of least I think we are, LOL. My oldest son is 5 and starting his journey through school. I can see that we might have some rocky patches in the road, but my folks had some rocky patches with me too. There just isn't any substitute for parental involvement IMO. Seems to me that you're right on the money.

PS - I never had blue hair, but I did have a flat-top at 14 years old. That caused me some anguish from the cool kids ;)

Phelan said...

Flat top Alex, really? You were a dork weren't you? ;) Mine was dreaded and plum purple at 14. hahaha!

Alex said...

The normal kids picked on me for being too different and the different kids picked on me for being too normal. WTH. I made it work :)

Jeannie said...

I just came over from Skippy's and had a little back read. This is interesting. I think my parenting was much like yours in many ways. The attitude similar. I did not rebel so much when I was young outwardly. As an adult, I have received a lot of flack for my far from extreme but "colour of the month" hair. I encouraged my kids to express themselves with their hair because - it's only hair! Mistakes can be cut, died or grown out. Even though my kids weren't terribly extreme, many parents were shocked anyway. Frankly, I'd laugh at them. I was never of the mind that my kids could do no wrong and I believe that realism kept them from going too far in anything. I knew they would drink underage and gave them safety guidelines. The same with drugs. I told them that I could forbid them from trying many things but I wasn't with them 24 hours a day so really, they could do whatever they wanted. It was up to them to make wise decisions and to realize that some bad choices could not be unmade - they'd live with the consequences. I think openness and honesty and making home a safe place kept them grounded. Many of their friends - whose parents were very strict - were far wilder. And their parents were totally unaware what their little angels were up to. My kids have all become quite respectable and productive members of society. I'm sure that many of theirs have too. There is more than one parenting style that works.

Expat Mom said...

I was homeschooled and while it was the right decision in the early grades, it was NOT a good idea in high school and I ended up dropping out of Math. However, I'm homeschooling my own sons . . . but am flexible to letting them go to school when the time comes that I'm not able to teach them what they need to know. While I am a homeschooler, I do not think everyone should homeschool, since it's just not the right decision for all! Your method of staying involved with your kids and their lives sounds ideal, good job!

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