I am not one of those parents, I’ve always told myself. I’m not helicoptery. Sure, I homeschool, but I’m not one of those moms who dislikes activities that are drop off. I don’t hover in the corner, raising my hand and insisting on participating in things right along side my kids. I don’t co-opt their projects, knowing that I can do them better. I wish I lived in a place where my kids could go to the store or library unaccompanied and I wouldn’t get arrested as a result.
I’m also not a Tiger mom. I don’t insist on my kids playing instruments, doing 100% on all their activities and work. I don’t send back drawings I consider to be less-than what I’ve seen them do in other ones. I have my standards for them, but I don’t see them as being insane.
I’m not, I tell myself, that parent who is convinced the sun shines out of their kids’ asses. I know my kids can do wrong. I’ve seen them do it. They aren’t going to be the next Einstein. Simple statistics shows that is unlikely. They will most likely grow up to be your average adult, maybe an above average adult if I’m really lucky.
But…we insist they go to both German School and Finnish school. They need to be trilingual. It’s the minimum. On top of that, they take art class. I have them enrolled in both rock climbing and swim lessons and find occasional fantasies of them joining a swim team or rock climbing team. Maybe they’ll get good enough in it to become recognized nationally! They’ll compete! Everyone will know my kids are amazing. Maybe they can do a spelling bee and win it! And since they’ll be homeschooled people will be impressed!
Aside from that, we’ve spent lots of time and money on Alpha. He’s been in both occupational therapy and speech therapy as we try to get his fine motor skills and speech ability up to snuff. He still has trouble catching balls and I’ve mentally crossed any sport involving that of my mental list of things he could be good at. My Beta almost certainly needs speech therapy as well. While going through phonics with her, I discovered she can’t say “ng.” Her “r” needs help. Her s sometimes goes out her nose. She’s on the never-ending waiting list for physical therapy because she’s knock-kneed and in-toes both feet when she walks. She’s not terribly impaired, but she could stand to fall over a bit less.
Each day my kids have their work they need to do in writing, grammar, spelling, math, handwriting, German, and science or history that they need to do and I proceed through their lessons with the determination of someone who is not going to move on until they get it, god dammit. We’ve just finished world war two in history, but since it’s my favorite historical period we’re still reading books in it. We’ve read the Upstairs Room, A Thousand Tracings, another picture book whose name I’ve forgotten, and are in the middle of Number the Stars. After that, we will read Sadako and the Thousand Paper Cranes before moving onto reading other things. In the car, we listen to the Economist or one of our numerous audiobooks that are supplementary to whatevery books we’re reading that are also history related. Right now, it’s Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry. I’m probably enjoying it more than the kids since I’ve never read it before. We only listen to music when I’m too tired to properly follow a narrative.
I’m considering private swim lessons simply so that I can save time and get all the kids (I wish) into one half-hour semi-private lesson, even if it does cost me $55 per kid per half hour lesson. Then we could cram all our sport activities into one day and save time.
On the drive home from one of our many activities, it hit me. I am that parent. Not a helicopter parent or a curling parent or a tiger parent. I am a concerted cultivator parent. I tend over my children like an OCD gardner rummaging through the leaves looking for predatory insects and picking off any signs of blight, ready with a nourishing spray or fertilizer should I find they need that edge. All with very little guarantee that it’s necessary or will make a measurable difference in the long run.
Is it worth it? I’m not sure. I know homeschoolers who are much more relaxed and when asked what they’re up to, simply respond that they’re still working on reading. Internally I scream, “YOUR KID IS TEN! If you’re still working on learning how to read, it may be time to get a reading tutor or some sort of external help!” I can’t tell if I’m extreme or they are. It tell myself I’ve chosen the middle way: they do a few hours of proper work each day, have some extra curriculars and then lots of free time to pursue their own interests. I have no idea if this is accurate. As a homeschooler, you have no readily available peer group by which to judge yourself. You’re pretty much floating alone in an ocean by yourself, assuming your the normal one.