AND THEN IT HAPPENED........
We became a homeschooling family.
Just like that, the decision was made. I'd had a desire to homeschool for several years and let fear take it from me every single year. I would research the options, pick a school and/or curriculum, get Roz prepared for the next school year, and then, at the very last minute become so overcome with the fear of being inadequate that I'd change gears and send her back to our city school system. I'm sure she thought I was crazy. Fast forward 5 years, maybe six, who's really keeping track, right?
Now, she has siblings. Charly is 4. Cassie is 6 and diagnosed with ADHD. She's a little brainiac and I'm not joking, nor am I prejudice. She just simply is an above average intelligent little girl. She is a thinker, a philosopher in her own right and so full of life that the energy she exudes hurts other people. Preschool was fun for her and we were blessed that her teacher was a personal friend and our local pastor's wife! Cassie adored her and, consequently, did best when she was there for two reasons: 1) She was so patient with Cassie, so Cassie responded well and 2) Cassie trusted her and wanted to please her, so when she got reprimanded it made a difference and she would try harder.
This dynamic disappeared for Kindergarten and, after a few short weeks, Cassie hated school and cried to stay home with a stomach ache every. single. day. Her teacher began calling and waking me up to tell me every little thing Cassie had done wrong. It ranged from "she won't stay in her seat" to "jumping around and singing in the hallways." As a night shift nurse, not getting sleep during the day began to wear on me. I began cycling through being an angry person with little tolerance for most of humanity due to sleep deprivation. I also began to have little concern for her teacher's difficulties and wished, many times, they would just deal with Cassie at school and leave me alone. After all, I dealt with her every day, so there. Wrong, I know, but I am being honest here. I began to talk about homeschooling as an option. My husband wasn't sure and wanted to take the Pediatrician's advice and try a medication. I was vehemently against it. It caused a little bit of animosity between us, but I conceded on the grounds that I got to research the options.
I found a non-stimulant to try. We fought insurance for months because they wouldn't approve it. Finally, just as first grade began, we settled on trying a medication that insurance approved. I wasn't happy with the decision. I despised putting her on medication. Things slowly got better and I settled into a routine of sleeping well, not being bothered with phone calls, and Cassie seemed to improve and enjoy school again. Her teacher sent encouraging notes and I began to feel like I was a fool for fighting against the medication so hard. I had a routine of pulling into her school early in the afternoons in order to have plenty of time to pick up the other two in a timely manner. I've always hated the idea of one of my kids standing around waiting for me to pick them up. I enjoyed looking for her amongst the children on the play ground. She was always easy to spot, not just because I can identify my children from miles away, but because of her obvious energy and love of life. However, I slowly began to spot her easily because she was skulking around, hiding behind the tree, and standing by herself looking lost. Where had my Cassie gone?
I brought my concerns to my husband and we agreed to ask the teacher about these behaviors, as we began to notice her having trouble with moods, being angry and sitting around with a strange lost, "I hate the world" kind of look on her face. We suspected the medication. We sent notes to her teacher who quickly sensed that we suspected the medication and she went on and on about Cassie's improvement in the classroom. I felt confused. Doesn't Cassie's overall wellness trump behavioral problems? Why wasn’t she concerned about these new anger issues and the darkness about her? Together we prayed about the decision to take her off the medication. I consulted her Pediatrician. She agreed that Cassie needed to stop the medication. Further, we agreed that medication was likely not the answer for her being that we had chosen what they considered a light medication and she experienced such adverse effects. Together, her Pediatrician and I arrived at an herbal solution to try. My husband and I had already agreed, that if this didn't work, then I would sacrifice work hours to homeschool her. After all, Cassie's overall well-being was definitely more important to us than making her fit into the little box to attend public schools.
Immediately, after stopping the medication, Cassie's mood improved, she began to play again, laugh again, and seek out other children to play with on the play ground. Additionally, her mood swings disappeared as did her anger. In short, Cassie was back. Within a week, we got a note from the teacher that she was concerned about Cassie's behavior. It was all about staying in her seat. I encouraged the teacher to realize that it wasn't in Cassie's best interest to be medicated because her body couldn't handle it and we didn't want to put her through it ever again. Note after Note, day after day, I began to realize that her teacher had too much on her plate. Cassie and 5 other students in her class were simply "outside the box" children who thought differently and had different needs from other students. I discovered Cassie was bored with her work. I mean, in first grade they are still doing simple math. Something Cassie was doing before preschool because I am sponge when it comes to learning and so is she, so I started teaching them stuff early. This was a sudden revelation for me. I had taught my kids their ABC's, numbers, sight words, shapes, and simple math all before preschool, so what was I afraid of?
I began to research the options and they were overwhelming. I reached out to a homeschooling friend to whom I'd reached out each time in the past. She mused at my being at this cross road yet again. Only, this time was different. I had purposed in my heart that, if this was the right thing to do, then I was simply going to do it. Lots of prayer, conversation with her, and discussions with my husband and the decision was final. I was going to homeschool the children. We notified her teacher that we were planning to homeschool her and that, after winter break, Cassie would not return. I notified Charly's preschool that he would not return, either. I chose an umbrella school and paid for registration. This was becoming a reality. I was SO excited the day I got our registration confirmation and my teacher letter! I received notification that Cassie's records had been transferred to the umbrella school we had chosen. Winter break came and their last day of public school happened.
And then, we were homeschoolers.