On the first day of school I took the obligatory front porch pictures of my boys complete with freshly-pressed uniforms, they’ll never be ironed again, brand new tennis shoes and that unmistakable summer glow on their sweet faces. I even got a tad misty at the thought of them being one year older and one year closer to leaving me. But then I snapped out of it and thanked God that it was time for a strong, intelligent and amazing group of adults to impart their knowledge on my children day after day. After three months of just the kids and me I was mentally and physically exhausted.
This summer was my first as a stay-at-home-mom. For the most part, I think things went well, but I’ve often wondered how my kids would grade my parenting if given the chance. For sure I would get an A+ in binging episodes of Match Game ’78 while doing laundry. I would score a solid B+ in preparing meals that most of the family will eat. I bet I’d receive high marks for song selection in my Honda Odyssey. Other areas like patience, not cursing and resisting the urge to lock myself in the bathroom are looking more like Ds.
In just 90 days, I learned so much about my kids that I never knew before. For instance, they have read and memorized every fact book that has ever come into our home. The summer was a constant quiz show where I was always the first contestant eliminated. And, they can easily consume an entire watermelon in one sitting- I have three sons, I should have known this going in. My children are also totally unimpressed with my perfect day of sleeping in, having breakfast and doing nothing else. They wanted me to come up with exciting experiences and jaunts and day trips and hands-on activities for them to do. I signed up for lounging at the pool and feigning excitement at cannonball #287. But they quickly became bored with me and I totally blame it on school. The teachers change it up every damn day and it’s making me look bad. New lessons, exciting adventures and tons of fun! Who can compete with that?
Not that I have ever really considered it, but I can tell you with the utmost certainty that I will never be opening up a homeschooling classroom in my kitchen. Trust me, I have nothing against homeschooling. I think that parents who can give 100 percent of their time and love and compassion to educate their children are amazing. I’m not one of those people. I am a complete and total shit show. I could install a giant bell above the kitchen table and ding it every 45 minutes to let them know that class is over, but I guarantee you no one will learn anything. There would be all kinds of screaming and yelling and confused people all over the house.
I don’t know how I could serve as a great educational role model for my children since school was never my thing. I aced lunch and recess and was awesome at play practice, but the academics just got in the way. I mean, I remember words like photosynthesis and something called the Pythagorean theorem and I’ve had nightmares about diagramming sentences, but there is no way in hell I could ever figure out how to explain that stuff to my kids.
And God, I have absolutely no patience. You now the neighbor you see out in the garage screaming maniacally into a pillow and sneaking shots of whiskey while she takes the trash out? Yeah, that’s me. OMG, I am ready to totally lose my ever-loving mind after three extremely simple homework sheets on a Tuesday night. Just thinking about spending all day with my four children doing lessons and then book work tempts me to put my head in the oven and turn on the gas. I’d probably have to take up smoking and popping Xanax to make it through the day.
Due to the fact that all four of my children want all of my attention at the same time and trying to focus on one makes my head spin, I might need to take a Ritalin along with that Xanax to help me focus. When I had one child his room was clean, his clothes were folded, shit, his socks even matched. Now, I am a distracted, disorganized disaster. I like to think I’m June Cleaver in pearls dusting plastic-covered furniture, but I’m more like Peg Bundy with a leaf blower trying to move through the kitchen. When my kids come home from school, they throw papers at me as they pass, no matter if I’m in the bathroom or the backyard. They don’t care. If I were in charge of the whole curriculum, we’d spend half of the day playing scavenger hunt to find page six and maybe have time to squeeze in a quick Spanish lesson with Dora for a little culture.
My kids would hate having me as their teacher. They are thirsting for knowledge and experience not me regurgitating what I read last night on TMZ. Their teachers are creative and full of life and make learning an event. In comparison, I would fall completely flat. Finding your mother in the fetal position on the floor with a bottle of vodka at her feet because she has spent the last six hours explaining the same thing over and over and over again without anyone ever catching on causing her to become so confused that she’s forgotten her own name isn’t healthy for anyone.
I believe that homeschooling parents are to be commended. There is no way I could do it. My kids need school to educate them about math, science and English. I’m here to give lessons on how to be a better sibling and why you really can’t leave Laffy Taffy in the back of a minivan when it’s 100 degrees! I’ll also help out with the occasional diorama, but I just need them to understand upfront that my sub-par skills will land them in the B-/C+ range and if they’re willing to take that chance, I’m always here to help. And I promise that I will try to be more like June, a little less like Peg and that I will never show up at pickup in my gold lame pants and a leopard- print halter top. Unless it’s Friday, then all bets are off…….
Colleen Dilthey Thomas is a sister to three brothers, a mother to three sons, a wife to one husband and an expert on absolutely nothing to do with boys. She also has a baby girl, she’s not quite sure what to do with her either. Colleen is a Listen To Your Mother St. Louis Alum and her writing has appeared on BLUNTmoms, POPSUGAR and Scary Mommy. She chronicles the wise words of her sons, the Handsomes, and her own misadventures on her blog, Come On Colleen. Follow her on Facebook and Instagram to join the crazy.