Sunshine has enjoyed two years at our local public elementary school. She has been cossetted and loved by wonderful teachers. The staff at the school know her by name and look out after her. The administration has been kind and generous to her at every pass. Our family is enthusiastically greeted by all when we come on campus. We’ve felt very welcome there.
But Sunshine is done.
When we decided to homeschool The Little Master, we told ourselves that it was a temporary solution to his “late summer birthday” and that we would enroll him at the Sunshine’s grade school next year. Progressively, we’ve gotten more and more comfortable with the idea of homeschooling him long-term. And with that comfort came the realization that it was also the right thing to do for Sunshine.
Slowly as the spring went on, Sunshine started exhibiting several signs of anxiety that caused us concern. The first sign that she was under too much stress was incredibly obvious and should have hit my in the head like a load of books. Of course, it didn’t. One day while she was in school, I had felt impressed that I needed to spend more one-on-one quiet time with her when I tucked her in for bed. Initially, I thought of the complications that would get in the way of this – namely Complication #1 (Buddy) and Complication #2 (Polly). And then I remembered sweet Michelle Duggar, who always finds a way to make it work, so I made it work. I left the younger two in TLM’s room to chat and play (and delay bedtime), while I cuddled with Sunshine and said, “Tell me something…anything…I just want to hear your voice.” And I sat there in uncomfortable silence for about 30 seconds and tried so hard not to say anything, because I really felt that there was something she needed to tell me. She giggled and asked what I wanted her to talk about, and I assured her that anything would be lovely, because I just really wanted to hear her voice. And then the deluge began.
There were tears, tears, and more tears, interspersed with sobs, and they were all about going to 2nd Grade. Apparently, Sunshine believed that she wouldn’t be able to cut it, would be kept in at recess to finish work and would never succeed in 2nd Grade. I assured her that she was remarkable and brilliant, and had nothing to be worried about. She responded by begging to homeschool.
At first I thought she was just reacting to our quiet decision to homeschool The Little Master. Who wants to go to school when the younge two are staying home for a party? Then I thought that she really just hated going to bed on time and getting up in the morning. Sunshine really hates waking up in the morning. Also, it was almost the end of the school year. We’re ALL dragging by this time of the year. She was probably just burnt out. Surely, it wasn’t really about wanting to homeschool. She LOVES her school. She is doing FABULOUSLY there. We would never want to take her from there.
It was around this time that I also started to see other things that disturbed me, (because I didn’t notice the load of bricks and God had plans for me). She began to have a nervous tick. She started chewing on her fingers. When I dropped her off at school in the morning, she very slowly wandered inside, instead of skipping in like she had just a few weeks earlier. When I went on campus, she would cling to me, instead of showing off in her classroom. And she cried in my arms every night for two weeks, still begging to homeschool.
To his credit, Don jumped on board right away, though he had made me promise while we were engaged that we would never homeschool or homebirth our children. The naivete of youth! Initially, I agreed only to appease her and make the tears stop. Why would we keep her home when she was at such a great school? People only homeschool when there are problems at school, right? But I kept feeling nagged by the Spirit, telling me that all was not well at school and there would be problems in the future that I could only solve by keeping her home. Finally, I gave in and immediately felt so, so good about the decision. I’d like to believe that Sunshine feels that way too, because the crying, the nervous tick, and the chewing of fingers stopped immediately.
Even now, if we ask Sunshine why she wants to homeschool next year instead of returning to public school, she can’t really articulate her reasons. Usually, she’ll just parrot a benefit that she’s heard me say. I realize now what a benefit it is that she never told me a “reason” for her to withdraw from school. If she had told me what the problem was, I would have tried to fix it. Deciding to homeschool her without a concrete “reason” was a test of faith. Would I follow my promptings to homeschool her if I didnt have a plain and clear explanation to tell people for my decision? Would I keep her home if my only real reason was that I “felt” it was the right thing to do? How do you explain that to people without sounding like a nutcase?
I guess you can’t, but me looking like a crazy person shouldn’t be a real concern, should it? It’s not really about me.