ME? Homeschool? – A Rude Awakening
A Rude Awakening
When we moved to Charlotte, North Carolina, where did we look for a house? In the best local school district, of course! We were willing to spend more money than we had to buy a house in the right location. So we found a house and began praying for Charles’s kindergarten instructor. Bless her heart, whoever she was going to be! That summer we went to an open house and met Charles’ new teacher. I was not impressed. As we buckled the kids into the car, I looked at Davis and asked “Is that who you’ve been praying for, because that’s not who I’ve been praying for.” And he said, “You know, that’s really not who I had in mind either.” So we decided to continue praying because we had six more weeks until school started.
And then the glorious day came: the day I would get my life back. This was the day that I would go back to Bible study and start rendezvousing with friends for lunch. Charles was such a strong-willed child that I had had to withdraw from so many social activities; I simply could not predict how he was going to behave each day. But this year was going to be different. I could not have been more excited about the first day of school. We bought the new outfit, got the new lunch box (both of which I still have, by the way). We took lots of pictures, and Charles was so excited about riding the bus. And glory to God, the bus stopped just at the end of our street!
We had it all worked out. Davis was going to take Charles and the neighbor boy to school in the morning, and at the end of the day (when Savannah Anne, our newborn, would be taking a nap) my neighbor would meet the boys at the end of the street and walk them home.
So the first day, Davis took Charles and the neighborhood boy to school and delivered them to their kindergarten classroom. Davis took pictures, waved goodbye, and left for work. In the afternoon, I waited for Charles to return. I walked down to my mailbox at 2:30 p.m. and saw my neighbor coming over the hill. Her son was beside her and her dog, but my son was nowhere to be seen. “Where’s Charles?” I asked. And she said, “He wasn’t there.”
I ran into the house and called the school. “Oh, you must be the parent of the little boy sitting in our office,” they said. I called my husband and cried, “Charles wasn’t on the bus! They didn’t put him on the bus!”
On the first day the kids were suppose to wear a tag with their bus number pinned to their clothes. Davis said, “He had a tag on his shirt this morning. I don’t know if he took it off or what happened. I’ll take care of it.” So my husband left work, went to the school, spoke with the teacher, and sure enough, Charles still had the tag on his shirt that read “Bus 809.”
My husband told the principal, “Clearly, this is not okay. He has his tag and was supposed to get on the bus.” The principal reassured Davis, saying it was the first day of school and that things would go much smoother the next day. In fact, the principal said that Charles didn’t even need to wear the bus tag again, but Davis said, “Charles will wear the tag again tomorrow.”
Day two. Davis took Charles and the neighbor boy to school and dropped them off. At 2:30 I went down to the mailbox and over the ridge, only to see my neighbor, her son, and her dog—and no Charles. I called the school again, only this time they didn’t know where he was! Later we found out they had put him on the wrong bus! So now my son was terrified of the bus. This meant I would have to drive out every weekday afternoon, wait in a long line of cars, and pick him up from school.
This was totally messing up my plans. But was I thinking about homeschooling yet? Not on your life.
Charles stayed in school for eleven more days—and yet he never brought any schoolwork home. He had gone to preschool, and I had to have a suitcase to bring home all the stuff he’d created in class. Yet Charles did not bring home a single piece of paper in thirteen days of kindergarten. Davis decided to take that Friday off work. He made arrangements with the principal and teacher to spend the whole morning in the classroom as an observer. Soon after noon Davis and Charles came home: He had withdrawn Charles from school. It wasn’t that anything “bad” was happening. But there wasn’t anything good happening. Davis could see that our son was going to die a slow death if we kept him in that school setting.
When they got home, we packed all three kids into the car and spent three hours driving around Charlotte to visit private schools, putting Charles on every waiting list imaginable. At that time, private schools were asking tens of thousands of dollars just to put a child in kindergarten. Yet there was not one spot open anywhere. He was number six on the shortest waiting list we got him on. (I now chalk this up to God’s goodness.) When we finally arrived home, we were all sweaty, cranky, exhausted, and frustrated. We had pulled Charles out of school, and we didn’t know what we were going to do come Monday.
That’s when Davis said the fateful words: “What do you think about homeschooling?”
He swears now my head spun on my shoulders.
The most submissive response I could muster was, “Okay, so let me get this straight. You’re going to go to work all day, and I’m going to have to stay at home with the kids. Right?”
Davis said, “It just occurs to me that we’ve been praying for Charles’s teacher all this time. We know it’s not the teacher at the public school. Rachael, I think we’ve been praying for you.”
It was in that moment that the Creator of the universe used my husband to convict my heart about how we were supposed to move forward with my son.
I won’t lie to you. The first year my mantra was “You can’t mess up kindergarten.” How hard can this be? I thought. ABCs. 123. I can do that, right? Just the thought of my launching into this new endeavor sent my mother reeling. In the beginning, all we said was “We’re just doing this for now.”
Who do you think I called first when we made the decision to homeschool? I called my friends in Akron, Ohio.
“Caroline, I need some help.”
“Sure, anything. What is it?” she asked.
“We took Charles out of school, and I think we’re going to homeschool.”
The next thing I heard was the phone dropping. Caroline’s husband, Butch, got on the phone and asked what I had said to her. I had to eat a lot of humble pie, but the people that God had put in my life were the very people I called for help.
Isn’t God good?
Don’t miss the rest of my series on homeschooling: