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Thursday, November 15, 2012

Is Your Parenting an Epic Fail Experience?

Have you ever had one of those weeks?  OK, let's be real, have you ever felt like everything you do as a parent is an epic fail?  There are moments when this is all I feel, and these last few weeks have been filled with tons of epic fail experiences.

In no significant order, allow me to ramble.  Perhaps something will trigger a spark with you as well where you can relate.  Or, better yet, where you can be encouraged knowing you are not alone and perhaps pull some sliver of hope out of my failures.

Let's start with the big word "Socialization!"  OK, perhaps this hits a nerve with me because growing up I hated it when someone would call me shy.  Yes, I was a quiet kid.  But shy?  Reallly?  I never thought of myself as shy.  To me, quiet and shy were quite different.  Just because I was not rowdy and obnoxiously loud did not mean I had nothing to offer.  And, it has always bothered me when people disregard someone saying they are shy as if it is a horrible thing.

I suppose I carry a great deal of this feeling over into my children as well.  It is just escalated by the fact that we homeschool because homeschoolers already have the label of struggles with socialization.

The very reason I chose to homeschool, in fact, has to do with the amazing impression my husband and I received from an 8-year-old homsechooler.  She sat poised and spoke to us like an adult throughout a business meeting we were having with her mother.  At the end of the meeting, I knew I wanted to homeschool.

But, the vision I have always had for my homsechooled children is probably unrealistic at best as I quite often feel like an epic fail.

When I pictured homeschooling, I pictured the young violin virtuoso, the math whizzes, the spelling bee champs, the Bible Bee scholars and young Junior Achievement computer geniuses.  At the very least, I pictured children with an insatiable hunger to learn and devour knowledge.

Then, I look at my homeschool.  I look at me as a parent.  And, often I see epic fail!  This week has been one of the worst.

We have been struggling to find my daughters a new dance teacher after their much-loved dance teacher announced her resignation in June.  This has been an emotional search, and we finally landed on a studio.  The dance teacher and owner of this studio must think I'm just your basic loony case.

We were all set to visit a dance lesson to see if my oldest daughter liked it when she fell apart.  Tears flowed.  It was a mess.  So, I told the teacher we would not be visiting that night.  The teacher was pleasant and understanding, and suggested that we use her younger sister's class as a way to ease her into it and get her excited.  I thought that was a great idea thinking that the younger class would be so exciting.  Well, my younger daughter went along with it as the older daughter looked on.  Neither child barely cracked a smile and my youngest daughter announced to me that she was bored.

But, what does the teacher say?  "I had no idea how shy your girls were!"  Shy?  You could have used any word.  Why did you choose shy?  I was upset and let the teacher know all of both of my daughters' accomplishments at their previous dance studio, in an effort to express how non-shy they really are.

(By the way, my unsocialized shy child is the one in the front...Does she look shy to you?)

Eventually, my older daughter decided she liked the teacher well enough to give the new studio a try.  My youngest daughter, however, mostly agreed to go along for peace.  She is still warming up to the place.

So, the brings us to last night:

Last night was costume measuring night.  It was a night filled with announcements of scheduled dates and taking measurements to order the proper dance costumes.  When we walked in, my daughter was greeted by another little girl's mother who said, "Oh, I like your boots".  My daughter had on light-up Disney princess cowboy boots and they truly are cool.  Expecting my daughter to say, "thank you", I was taken back when there was silence.  So, I said, "Oh, did you tell her thank you."  To my horror, there was still dead air.  I looked down at my daughter who was now clinging to the side of my leg and staring straight forward like a zombie.  I tried once more to get a "thank you" out of her and got nothing but a cold stare forward.  I can't tell you how much I wanted to sink into my chair.  I was shocked at her apparent rudeness.  But, that was just the beginning.

As the teacher gathered the girls around to announce show dates and show them their costumes, my daughter began to slowly shrink back from all socialization whatsoever.  She sat in the semi-circle of girls who were all looking at the teacher. Only, my daughter was bent over with her head in her hands and hair completely flipped forward as if she were either crying or sleeping.  The teacher tried to get her to look up and pay attention, but she refused.  She spent the bulk of the rest of the night in that position until the costumes were announced.  And, at least she looked up for the big announcement even though there wasn't any shouts of excitement or even a crack of a smile.

I was devastated.  All I could think was, "Please, please - No one ask me what school she goes to," because if I had to answer, "Oh, we homeschool."  I knew immediately what the reaction would be to that - "Oh, of course she looks completely cut off from society and bored and won't sit and look at the teacher like the rest of the girls in the group - She's not properly socialized."


It is moments like these that make me feel like I'm living a major homeschool epic fail.  Where have I gone wrong?

I asked her about her behavior later, and she responded:  "Well, I'm just not used to that place yet."

If you would have seen this child just 20 minutes earlier, you would have thought she was quite rowdy and certainly not afraid to express herself.  She was dancing and singing through a store, playing and talking loudly all day.  Her laughter drifted throughout the room earlier in the day when she was not at dance sitting in a group and being asked to listen or even being talked to with a compliment.  The difference was striking.


  1. Thank you for sharing what has been on my mind for quite a while. Though my son is only 18 months old I constantly worry about whether he is going to be "socialized" enough since he is home with me all day and we do plan to homeschool. But I was like your daughter ("shy" around large groups of people) and I was in public school, so you have not failed.

  2. Tere, your kid's reaction to a new studio has nothing to do with homeschooling. My very stubborn, public school kindergartener is capable of the same reaction. I have had nights where I want to put plugs in my ears to stop the noise coming out of this child...and I've taken him to new places and had him clam up tight. He simply does not talk to strangers, and that's ok.