There is no such thing is a non-negotiable. I thought I’d be able to negotiate and make a stand, not back down and win, convince my husband to put the children to school, but he insisted and debated for the continuation of homeschooling. Now, I’ve researched homeschooling, unschooling, worldschooling and we’ve done it ourselves. I’m not too happy with the results and find it too stressful fending off everyone who feels we are wrong that I’ve started to believe we may be wrong, too. My husband has no problem making a stand for something he believes in. Me, I am the wavering type. At the sign of difficulty, I fold and give up.
Homeschooling has been difficult and stressful for me. There are many homeschooling families whom I admire – my friends, my sister, worldschoolers we met on our road trip. But unfortunately we just don’t fit into that type of family which practices this non-traditional method of education in an admirable way. We get angry at the kids. The kids have too much screen time. We are not that creative. Gosh, and the kids still can’t read. Even if I know for a fact it doesn’t matter in the end what age they start reading, it still weighs heavy on my mind. Our methods leave much to be desired but my husband said we can improve ourselves.
What about the naysayers? Those who echo my own opinion that we should stop because one year of experimentation is more than enough time. I also feel the same way – that this has gone on too long but my husband thinks we should press on this path despite the setbacks. He wants to prove that he can teach Chinese to Joshua and Jimmy in a calm and effective manner. He showed me and it was quite good but can he do it consistently through time, every day? That remains to be seen.
Me? I wish I can hire tutors. That’s my homeschooling method which is used by many moms I know. One mom I had just met when we were in Manila hires a tutor two hours a day to go over the academic materials with her children. When I met her, I told her that’s exactly what I want to do. I was able to do that easily in Manila because I know my way around but in China, my husband insists on teaching Chinese himself and for English, I’m the one who has to do it unless I get the Skype tutor again.
My husband doesn’t understand why I don’t want to continue homeschooling because I was the one who researched a lot about it. That’s true but my research spans a wider field – alternative education which includes progressive and democratic schools. Precisely why I am researching those because I also want an alternative, a back-up, in fact it’s my preferred choice to homeschooling. I am researching those alternative schools because I want to quit homeschooling and put my children in a progressive school. It would be great if there were options for a democratic school but there’s none in China or the Philippines. And because there is none, that’s what I seek to establish in the future with my friend Donna.
The other stressful thing about homeschooling is the people around me who do not believe in it, who do not believe we are doing it well, who are getting stressed themselves that our children are missing school. That for me is stressful, but not for my husband who does not get stressed by what other people think. So maybe this is a call for me to practice that devil-may-care attitude. It’s harder for me because I also think we are not the ideal candidates for homeschooling. We are striving for that ideal and we fall short but that’s like everything else in life, right?
After a year of traveling and many years of switching homes, I was looking forward to settling down in Xishuangbanna. We promised the kids that we’d find a house, get them into school and get a dog – in that order. Now, my husband decided against that for valid family reasons.
I was so eager to live in a pretty place. Dagang is not pretty. It’s pretty ugly. Sorry to say, but it is. Living here for two years, I had to seek out beauty and found it. As in any place, beauty is all around, in the streets and most importantly, in the hearts of many people who become friends. But my mind had been conditioned to expect this physical paradise, this Shangri-La that we found and agreed upon that was Xishuangbanna. Now, it escapes my grasp.
I have to switch my mind and re-program it to re-discover beauty, reconnect with friends and feel joy and happiness wherever in the world I am at. Yesterday, we drove by the bleak, unpretty, blah landscape of the oilfields and I felt this lump on my throat and inside my head screaming, “No!!! I can’t live in this place again! What? You’re asking me to live here again? This hell hole? I’m so over this place! I’ve moved on! We were supposed to live in X!” I waited for the shrill, panicky voice to die down and get tired and waited. I didn’t have to wait long. Just like a child’s tantrum, I just let it scream its lungs out and then I was at peace. I can rock this world again!
About the school issue? Maybe I’m too flexible, too kind, too giving, too stupid. Maybe I’m wrong to give in to my husband in the major decisions that I have not been able to win. Maybe, it doesn’t hurt to be too flexible. This is just another arena for me to flex my muscles. I set about re-envisioning how this could work.
I mean look at this, I’ve got three hunks (one half-naked) making noodles for me! Only in Tianjin. Plus I’ve got a promise of a motorcycle ride through TEDA!