They went back.
I feel obliged to return and tell lingering subscribers what has kept me away so long and why our Home For Good became Home for a While.
My mom died. Well, first she was seriously ill -- on top of her myriad health problems that bloomed and grew over the past ten years. She would falter, recover somewhat, find relief in one infection or ailment only to have the cure bring other problems.
This time she did not recover. She was in-hospital about six weeks. What was bad cascaded into worse, which turned dire. Her body was shutting down. We were left with removing life support or keeping her in limbo a la machine. We chose what she had made clear in kitchen table conversations: "Don't let me live like that."
Amid the pull of working and homeschooling and a constant drag of "what's happening to Mom?" I left the kids more and more on their honor to do assignments. They didn't do as much or *all* as I instructed. I wept and railed at them for being untrustworthy. My son suggested he try middle school. He presented this idea as a way to be helpful. "Then you won't have so much to do," he offered. It was obvious I was out of my depth.
He went through testing to see if he would place. I cautioned him, "They may put you back a grade." The school said he would be fine in his current grade. He began mid February and never faltered. He has made nothing but A's ever since. He has been placed in advanced math. He loves the camaraderie of other kids "like me." He thrives on the recognition of other adults, whether on the cross country team, at library workshops, or in class.
My daughter was intrigued at the idea of middle school. A different teacher every hour? Art class every day? You get to eat salad at lunch?
She returned to elementary school in the new school year, to prepare for middle school-to-come. She has a teacher she adores, a gifted young woman who is a natural with the chaos and drama of 5th grade. Her classroom feels more like a club you'd want to join than a chore. She brings props and dresses up; she counsels without belittling. Bonus: the teacher was home-schooled. I worried about getting scolded for taking my kids out. No chance there.
Social studies has become the new favorite subject, and the structure is precisely what my daughter needs. It was what I had so much trouble providing with my other obligations.
Our bond didn't break. We still read together at night; I was the parent assistant on my son's cross country team; I went to the capitol with my daughter's class. We don't spend all day together, but the space --in my mind, in my house-- has let me expand my own profession without feeling guilt for taking time from them.
My kids are not one bit "behind" from having left school. The hassles of home discipline have been traded with counseling on friend drama or sympathy for how loud and distracting a classroom can be. We have yet found the ideal situation. It's something most people--kids and adults--are driven to find.
We know ourselves better for the experience, though. It was all part of our education.