Questions. Children have them. They are a never-ending chasm of questions and wonder. Of course, we want to encourage their questioning, their desire to know. Some damn days the answers don’t come as easily as we would like, though.

The other day Professor Chaos bolted into the living room, presumably basking in the glory of the removed baby gate, and positioned himself at the end of the couch. He had a question. Tilting his rainbow colored head to the side he began:

“Mom, dad says that boys can have vaginas and girls can have penises,” I confirmed that what his father had told him was correct and then I waited for the question(s) that I knew were about to follow.

“Well, how is that?” I breathed a sigh of relief, that one would be fairly easy to explain. I told him that people don’t always feel that their outside matches the person inside, so they take steps in a long process to make that happen. Sometimes that means changing everything, sometimes that just means a few things change. What’s in their underwear doesn’t define if they are male or female, though, the person defines that.

He nodded in understanding and then said, “Well, I get that. That’s not what I’m asking, though”. Then my heart skipped a beat because there wasn’t going to be anything easy about this conversation.

He started again “I want to know how they have a penis or vagina”. I looked at him for a moment, slightly confused, because we’ve discussed reproduction before, but he’s only seven and it’s been a while so I figured he needed a refresher. “Well, it happens in the womb when the baby is forming.” Then we watched a video on male and female sex organs and a four-minute time-lapse animated video on fetal development.

Job complete. High five mom...or not.

He shifted on the couch and then locked his brown eyes on mine, “So that’s what I looked like when I was inside you?” “Yes, I replied, "sort of. You didn’t look exactly like that at the end, but all the rest of the stuff is right.” Mission complete. The victory march plays in my head and then… “I already know all that stuff, though.  That’s not what I’m trying to ask.”

Damn it.

“Well”, I asked exasperated, “what, exactly, do you want to know?”
“I want to know how they are that way. Why couldn’t they just be born the way they want to be?”
Holy shit. This parenting thing was supposed to be simple. Go back to when I could just put something shiny in your face or turn on Blue’s Clues to end a line of questioning clearly above my pay grade and worldly intelligence.

I had to admit I didn’t really know how or why and do my best to say something of use. “Their reproductive organs develop one way, while who they are as a person develops another way. No one can tell another person who they are, that’s for all of us to discern for ourselves. Our job is to love and support everyone. Just know that we’ll love you no matter how you identify, OK?” He nodded his understanding and then my inquiring mind needed to know if he felt like a boy, a girl, or something else. He responded he felt like a pony, like Rainbow Dash. Then he lamented his disappointment in my not letting him have blue skin, I told him one day we could get him a blue bodysuit. He thought it was a fair trade. I reminded him one more time that we would love him no matter what, to which he sighed and said “Mom, I know! You guys tell me everyday”, before dashing out of the room.
I patted myself on the back and then I got myself a beer.
I’m still waiting for this parenting thing to get easier. I’m starting to believe that’s a lie told by people to keep us in the parenting trenches for the long haul.

Copyright(c)2015 Rayven Holmes

Oh sweet blog of mine, it’s been a while.  Not that I haven’t written, or started writing, various posts for you...I just haven’t taken the time to finish them, edit them, or upload them.  I've been pretty fucking busy over the last year, to be frank, so I've neglected areas of my life I love -such as writing- so I could focus on getting through my husband being gone for 9 of the last 12 months with, what’s left of, my sanity and children still in tack. I do have goals for this year, writing wise, so it’s time to dust off the ol’ keyboard and make some magic happen.  Hopefully, before Uncle Sam notices I’m enjoying myself and fucks it all up.  Let’s begin...

Last year, I touched on the difficulty of starting over when it came to making friends and the agony of putting oneself out there. *If you weren't a follower then or completely missed the post you can find it HERE.*  Despite my misgivings, I still jumped into the giant social pool and swallowed the bitter pill that is acceptance of our current duty station.  Of course, with mixing and mingling with the general population you encounter the standard line of questioning that comes with interacting with the human race.  It’s a tedious checklist humans fumble through to determine if you’re a human worth investing the time needed to actually move up to the exciting tidbits that make someone a whole person or if you’re not.  

You all know the list:

“Where are you from?”
“Any siblings?”
“How old are you?
‘Are you married? What about kids? Oh, wow, and how old are they?”
“What does your spouse do for a living?”
“How long have you been married? Where did you meet?”

I find it very reminiscent of the old A/S/L line of questioning from AOL chat room days.  Eventually, the conversation turns towards wanting to know where my children attend school, unless I’m with a group of homeschoolers.  At that point in the conversation I start to sweat just a little bit, despite homeschooling growing, people are still pretty clueless about it.  Aside from some preconceived, often inaccurate, notions about who homeschoolers are and what we do all day.

After stumbling through the “Where do your kids go to school?” question and the subsequent questions that follow, I figured I would get off my ass and finally write a post to address this a bit.  Here we go folks!

First, let me address how I usually respond to the question “How long do you plan to homeschool?”, this question is usually asked with slightly narrowed eyes right after I blurt out the words “Oh, they don’t go to school. They are homeschooled”.  

Over the last year I've usually answered this question with a stammered and stuttered “Well, we’re going to evaluate every year and then make a decision”.  ← This is bullshit!  

When we first started homeschooling, formally/officially/what the hell ever you want to call it, the plan was to evaluate every year simply to appease The Spouse.  That was the only reason we were going to do yearly assessments to dissect our homeschooling efforts and determine if they were “working”.  Here’s the thing, though, if a child is learning you know.  Annual assessments are, generally, pointless.  If you’re constantly observing what a child is doing and how they are handling the work they are being given why do you need to have a separate assessment?  You don’t.  Our kids are learning, growing, and dysfunctional enough to be interesting.  We have no plans to put our kids in public school, ever.  Just like a great deal of public school parents could NEVER imagine homeschooling we could NEVER imagine sending our kids to public school.  It’s not for our family and we’re all cool with that.  So how long will we homeschool?  Until T.B.M. reach the point where they can branch out into their chosen paths. *Or they beg us to send them to public school...which is highly doubtful, because they aren't fans of wearing clothes everyday or being anywhere before 9am.*

After the how long question I, usually, get a question along the lines of “What’s it like?”.  I will admit I like this question, because it means people are willing to learn about what is considered an alternative to the norm.  They realize that the Duggars and horror stories that make the evening news are not complete representations of homeschoolers, which is fantastic.    

Answering that question, though, isn't as clear cut as I think people expect it to be.  What is it like to homeschool?  Well, that depends on the day.  I guarantee you, though, what it’s like in our home on any given day is completely opposite from what it’s like in someone else’s home on that very same day.  

The best way to give you all understand of what it’s like is to paint a picture of an average week.  For us, average means spending at least 75% of our week at home.  We love our home and the large wooded lot it sits on, plus we’re all happier when we don’t have to run, run, run.  On an average, and I use that word loosely, week the kids get up and start their chores, consume breakfast, and head outside to play for a bit.  Around 10-1030am they head upstairs to our schoolroom and start their assignments for the day, unless it’s a co-op and music day and we are gone nearly all day long.  On an excellent day we have what we call History Tea Time, which is just me reading aloud from whatever decent history book I've managed to get my hands on plus a snack for the kids.  Then there’s lunch, some yelling, finishing of school work, begging for candy, dinner, evening chores, bedtime stories, and the wonderful silence of sleeping children.

Sounds rather dull, right?  Dare I say it sounds rather...normal, at least everything after about 3pm.  It can appear that way.  We have cycles we go through when we’re very busy and involved in something and then we have moments of calm and just being in this phase of our lives.  This ebb and flow is a delicate balance that we work to keep, often resulting in chipping away at things that disturb our flow.

There are days when we forgo our regularly scheduled programming and the boys, especially Professor Chaos, spend their whole day in the kitchen cooking.  Other days they exist outdoors coming in only to eat and possibly use the bathroom, sometimes they choose to just water a tree.  

A great deal of T.B.M.’s day is spent doing whatever they see fit.  A couple of years ago I changed the way we approached our schooling, instead of trying to cram in a handful of subjects everyday, we only focus on one or two core subjects a day.  In order to ensure they are still getting any necessary practice for the other subjects (reading, writing, math) they have daily assignments which are quick and reinforce whatever needs reinforcing.  This means once they have knocked out their daily assignments and core assignment(s) they have hours at their disposal to read, explore, and connect.  Those are the things we value over a schedule full of social events and a mile long list of extra-curricular activities.  That’s our ideal.  That’s what it’s like for us and that’s what works for our family.    
Interested in hearing more about secular homeschooling?  Well, check out Episode 6 of The Secular Parents!

Copyright(c)2015 Rayven Holmes