I contemplated for some time before typing this post. It has been quite a struggle within me to open up. We had placed Elijah into a kindergarten in April. As of now, both my children are officially in mainstream schools.
Grandparents, neighbours and our medical professionals (OT, Educational Psychologist etc) might have performed a little celebration dance upon hearing the news. “It’s about time you did that!” or “It’s better for him” were what they would say.
If I could see their thought bubbles, it might have been…
This crazy woman has finally found her senses!!
On the other hand, the homeschool community would pose questions like “was homeschooling Elijah so tough?”or “have you prayed this decision through?”
Their thought bubbles could look like this:
Ah…she’s not cut out to handle homeschooling. She’s given up.
The truth is, caring and teaching my son is tough. Some questions I ask myself everyday: “How do I keep him engaged throughout our lessons?”, “How do I get him to write without the tantrums?”, “How can I help him stay focus long enough to finish one task?” and “How do we go through a day without tears and battles?”
It is challenging, tiring and discouraging (often faced with rejections from society). I ask myself why walk this tiresome path when so many others seem to have an easier route?
A homeschool mom remarked that God must have favoured me. While, it was her way of encouragement, deep down, it sounded like a mockery than compliment. I don’t want such “favours” – a simpler journey is very much welcomed.
I was holding on to the fears, guilt and expectations of everyone around me. It felt as if I had failed my son by choosing to send him to school. I wanted the best for him but clearly, I could not deliver.
On the flip side, the medical professionals and people (who wanted my son to be in school) made me feel as if I was not doing enough for him through homeschooling. His poor handwriting was because I didn’t expose him enough writing. His inability to read social cues were due to lack of experience in social settings. His activeness was attributed to the lack of structure.
Either way, I was bombarded with one message: I was not doing enough.
Finally, it came to a point that I collapsed in every way imaginable. I knew I was spiralling downwards. I was “forced” to let go of homeschooling, therapy activities, church activities, play dates etc. It wasn’t easy to put the brakes on when the world keeps spinning.
For those who asked if I had prayed… that felt like a slap in the face. OF COURSE, we would have prayed. But, guess what, God isn’t a genie or Santa that answers your prayer list. That doesn’t mean He isn’t listening or doesn’t care. That doesn’t mean we mean anything less. That doesn’t mean we aren’t “goody” enough. Or we’re not hearing Him right.
During this season, I’ve learned that God works in tandem with us. There is no fixed answer. Whatever “answer” given in that season, may not be the “answer” in this season.
This time, it was I (not my husband) who decided to let my son enter kindergarten. We were rejected by a nearby church kindergarten because of his differences. It was painful to deal with rejection every time. We tried again with another church kindergarten and they agreed to let Elijah try for a term.
5 months into kindergarten, he’s still in the same kindergarten. I thank God for that. It’s truly by His grace and providence.
We continue with homeschooling at a different time of day. Because of his learning gaps and varied interests, he needed space and time to learn at his pace.
I’ve learned that the answers we seek may not necessarily be how we interpret it to be. The homeschooling community defines that to be “homeschooled”, the child does not attend any school (kindergarten, childcare etc). We would fail in that criteria. The mainstream system expects students to meet certain benchmark per term. We don’t meet that too.
Our regular homeschool friends have become much of a “hi-bye” relationship. We rarely mingle with his kindergarten friends. But God has been gracious to me, He has connected me (knowing my high inclusion need) with other mothers in remarkable ways that I wouldn’t expect. For that, I am grateful.
God has also worked in my husband’s career path in a timely way – a decision to leave his stable career to venture into business. While that major decision came with some material sacrifices, we’ve gained much in our family time and bond.
My husband thinks he’s lucky to have a supportive wife. On the contrary, I think I am the blessed one. Ever thankful for his support to lighten my load in this season.
And so we continue to run counter to the norm. We are still in a mishmash situation of life but we are at peace with whatever answers we have for now. Until the next shakeup, we continue to prepare ourselves in faith and keep the hope that He holds our future. There is no fear.