Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Pep Talks

So, lately, I've been saying things in my head.


"You don't need anyone's approval."


"Your an adult woman who successful manages a family."


"To Hell with them."


"It's okay to do the right thing...

even if it makes everyone else uncomfortable."

We've been giving some things a lot of thought and consideration.

We've been waiting and seeing.

We've been trying to dampen down our feelings.

We've been second guessing ourselves.

We've been stressed and upset.

Then we tried to avoid it and started talking about adopting handicapped children.

Cause that would make everything less stressful... right?

And then this morning I'm walking around beating myself up.

Why can't I just stand up for what I think is right?

Why do I care what OTHER people will think?

I don't even agree with those people, so why on Earth would I let the fear of their judgments hold me back from doing what is best for my family?

Or at least trying.

Trying to choose to live a different life.

One that is supportive and challenging.

Not unsupportive and challenging.

Why do I keep setting a deadline that's several months away?

Why do I need to allow us to continue suffering when I know it isn't working?

Why can't I just stand up for what I believe in, TODAY?

Peer pressure that's why.

I'm always battling that demon.

So maybe I'll just say it here.

We're taking Kid out of school.

Hopefully soon.

It's not working.

There is some bullying.

There is intensely disappointing academics.

There is a classroom structure that I just fundamentally disagree with.

Kid is bored.

And exhausted from getting too little sleep.

Kid is tantruming after school.

Kid still has no friends.

And it is just a slow, corrosive torture on our whole family.

Kid used to love school.

Now when I get her after school she isn't excited to tell me about her day.

She's just sort of dull in the eyes.

Every day is like the one before, and she's just getting through it.

And I just don't believe a child should spend 7 hours a day like that.

And it's hurting my heart that I'm letting it happen.

That I'm more worried about what other people think, then what is actually happening.

So, we're going to pursue something better.


P/F said...

Is it going to be homeschooling Mrs. F? Because you would rock at homeschooling. My gnawing feeling is that we really aren't educating our kids so much as institutionalizing them. Going to lunch with my son reminds me of how much the children are treated like cattle instead of individuals. Often kids thrive in spite of the conditions at school not because of them.
I don't know if I'd have the guts to homeschool my own kids. I'm gearing up to go back to work now that youngest is in Pre-K and I'm selfishly looking forward to it.
Sometimes I dream of living in a shack close enough to a ski resort to take the kids skiing everyday, interspersed with lessons in Literature, Math, Physics, Ecology.

On of the women at my UU church said that the best thing in the world for her daughter were the really great private options in Ann Arbor (she drove her in from Brighton every day). Yes they're expensive, but she flourished in contrast to the way that she had withered in public school.

katieo said...

To Hell with them indeed!

do what you gotta do. period.

good luck! :)

moley said...

Hey Mrs F.

I do still read but don't comment much as my eye is still giving me problems, but I just had to say:

"Poor Kid! Been there, done that, got the T-shirt!" although in our case Mr Bumble was tantruming and Hetty was bored and depressed.

Taking them out of public school to home educate them was the best decision we ever made. They are so much happier and the whole family dynamic is better. Although I have less time to myself, my life is better and less stressful and seeing the kids blossom is just wonderful.

They also have a fantastic relationship and really enjoy each other's company which lots of kids lose as they get a bit older.

We are also night owls and the school run in the mornings was horrible- both kids are so much better for sleeping when they want to!

So sorry that the new school hasn't worked out for Kid and hope that everything is better for you all soon.

Lynn (((hugs)))

sassykat1213 said...

I also think you'd be great at homeschooling! You will love the convenience--your schedule is your own. We do not get up early--we all wake up on our own, start our day, then start lessons--and it's wonderful. We also do lessons on the weekends that my husband works--and when he's off, we're off. It has turned into a lifestyle, which only makes sense--we are all life-learners...

Running in Alabama said...

You're a smart woman and the mom...can think of one good reason why anyone's opinion outside of you and Mr. F should matter. You do what you gotta do for your family first. If everyone else can't give you understanding and support, just scrape them off your boot before you walk in the door...

Running in Alabama said...

I should read before submitting...

Above post should read:
...I can't think of one good reason...


Smitty said...

But suffering and boredom build character! How else are we to prepare Kid, as a society, for a career filling-out TPS reports in a cubicle if we don't teach her NOT to have self-identity! You're ruining this for our corporate masters, you know. And They will not be happy...

Kidding of course...if this is right for you, which it obviously is, then Kid will be set for life because of this decision. Everyone else be damned. Not that my opinion matters...which is kinda the whole point behind your post!! :)

julie said...


go for it.

wootini said...


You will never be sorry that you did what you feel is right for your child, whom you and Mr. F know best.

Anyone else can go pound sand, IMO.

I have 4 brothers and our family participated in public school, private school and homeschooling as individual needs and circumstances dictated. And we all turned out just fine. :)

My son actively campaigns for homeschooling every day. :)

G in Berlin said...

I was so torn when I took my older out of a school where she loved her teacher and the other girls. After we did it I wondered why we had waited so long to change (although the answer was- important social interactions which we have indeed lost). But she has learned so much and so much more quickly in this other learning environment that I am grateful every day. Do what is best for your child- everything else can be changed but your family happiness is most important.

gooddog said...

Not that it matters what we think either but it sure seems like a good choice. No need to cause harm to such a sweet, funny, bright child in the name of "education". You go.

Preppy Mama said...

How stressful! I am so sorry to hear you guys are having to go through this. I have been reading along with you too long to know that whatever decision you make will be the right one for you and your family. As a mom, I know nothing means more to you than your children's happiness and health. You do what is in your heart and you will feel the love and support. xo

Jennifer said...

How long do you plan to home school?

There are some things you should look into if you plan on going into the high school years, but that is a ways off I know. I work in a school district and I see all the time what a hard time the homeschooled kids have when they re-enter .. just trying to fit in with the kids. They tend to be more adult-like than kid-like.

Once they get to a certain grade level the acceptance changes from other students and they are less likely to "fit in". I know it sucks, but I see it all the time.

Plus on some level, it teaches them self-preservation. How to deal with people. How to interact with peers etc. When they get out in the real world and have to deal with co-workers .. and yes TPS reports and eight bosses telling you that you forgot the cover sheet ..

There are definately pros and cons to it and like I said at the elementary level it is a different story than high school.

Good luck, it is a tough decision, and a life changing one.

Mrs Furious said...

Thanks for everyone's supportive comments. I really needed that. I've been torturing myself over this decision for weeks. Finding out about the bullying (exclusion and mean comments) just pushed me over the edge last night. I've tried every afterschool club and program available to try and get her cross contacts with the kids in her class hoping that would help her to make friends. I watched last night at Cheer Camp as the girl from her class got up and moved further away from her.
Yes, we are going to start homeschooling. For now.
We'll see how that goes the rest of this year and then reevaluate as needed. There is a private school we think would be a great fit but would like to leave that as a last resort after giving homeschooling a try.
I am also not ruling out returning to the public schools in a year or two or three (or five). She is a kind, shy, age appropriate girl. We're dealing with kids that are not age appropriate. She's just not ready to handle that yet. In a few years when she is more confident she might be able to fit in and do well there. It helps that the school district has broken the schools up into K-2, 3-4, 5-6, 7-8, 9-12. So there are lots of natural times to rejoin when everyone else is transitioning too.
In January I hope to get her enrolled in a part-time ala cart school option for homeschoolers.
Now I just need to get the courage to go in and withdraw her.
Or wait until Mr F gets back from his trip.

Mrs Furious said...

I have no current intention of homeschooling past 5th or 6th grade. If that. I'm really just thinking one year at a time. I think we'll bank our money now and save up to pay for private school at that point, if the public school still doesn't work. We'll continue to take all the after school clubs, etc. It's a very small town and she'll know people when she reenters later. It's also a huge homeschooling area where homeschooling and then going to middle and highschool is not uncommon at all. Or going to private school and then transferring for public high school. But I have no plans to homeschool for middle and up. Also I did go to school my entire schooling career and changed schools several times (six), my last change was for 8th -12th and I made friends just fine. As did the kids who entered later in high school.

But more importantly I'm a lot more worried about how the current social situation is than worrying about what may happen in 10 years. We'll deal with that and do what we think is best at that time.

emmyjw said...

You are the best judge of what is best for your kid- I know people will try to sway you and convince you that you aren't- but you are. You will be great at homeschooling.

Jennifer said...

Ok .. I was just trying to be helpful from the "school side" of things. Guess you didn't want that though. I wasn't trying to sway you one way or the other. Just trying to let you know what I see at a school.

Again, good luck to you.

Supermom said...

I hate to hear this Mrs F.

Kid is such an amazing little girl!!!

Let us know how it goes.


moley said...

I'm surprised at that Jennifer. All the English home ed kids I know of who have gone back into the school or college system have had no problems at all - either academically or socially!

heather said...

Long time reader first time commenter here. Look into Ann Arbor Learning community. I have a lot of friends that send their kids there. They really love the diversity and the ability for the kids to grow at their own pace.

P/F said...

Also for High School Age: Mr. F should vouch for WTMC. Students have to pick a professional curriculum, but it's a great way to have an associate's degree with high school diploma. Definitely fits kids who are too emotionally intelligent to 'get' high school girls. My Organic Chemistry partner was set to graduate at 16 with an associates degree. She was accepted in a program that led straight to dental school (dentist before 21). Her only regret was that she didn't join more clubs at Washtenaw (but she also took care of her elementary age siblings so that her parents could run their business)- WTMC works with any learning track.

Mrs Furious said...

I meant to say that I'm sorry to hear about your eye! Have you had more than one surgery?

I'll check into it. I had looked into it briefly before we moved. I can't remember if it's only for AA taxpayers.

Oh yes we know about it. Too bad he's still not working there... it would have been free. Although who knows where he'll be working when high school comes around!

Oh I'm happy to hear you're still around. Did you ever sell your house?

Mrs Furious said...

okay checked it out. All of MI residents are eligible. Thanks for the reminder to check them out!

wootini said...

I saw an article in the Times today about 'mean girl' bullying trickling down to ever younger ages... you might find it interesting.

Mrs Furious said...

My friend emailed it to me this afternoon!
Today Kid told me she plays with a little kindergarten girl at recess now because she'll play with her.
When I said "It seems like kids are a little bit meaner at this school." She agreed. Then we talked about how different it was at her old school, and she wished she could go back. She said there everybody would play with everybody. She said here you have to be mean and she won't be mean.
At her old school she was regarded as the kindest kid in school. Parents would come up and tell me that their children had mentioned how nice she was. Teachers liked her and regarded her as a good influence to have in class. Now kindness is not a rewarded attribute. She is shunned by her female classmates and mocked for liking "baby" things... and her teachers haven't taken any kind of particular interest in her.

Marie said...

Woo-hoo!!! Forget everyone else. Its your daughter. You guys know her best. Two months is a great try..and now you know. AND you know how she learns best. GO FOR IT!!!!

Golden To Silver Val said...

My granddaughter is the same age and in the same grade as Kid. My daughter is seriously considering homeschooling. For the amount of homework that has to be done every night, she might as well be. Our school district sucks as far as I'm concerned. My granddaughter was horsing around in class and her punishment doled out by the teacher was being denied her snacks brought from home for the week. Parent was never even contacted about it....and they wondered why she acted up in the afternoon. She was hungry and it made her cranky. (I suspect she may be borderline hypoglycemic). This was an extremely poor decision on the part of the teacher. Last year she came home in tears almost every day because of bullying from a nasty little girl and her minions and this was FIRST GRADE!! Some kids are just horrible now, especially if they have older siblings...they pick up the bad habits from them. My granddaughter loved school until last year and now this year is starting off badly too. We have her in Kumon classes because she's behind in her math and her penmanship is terrible. There are a lot of students from that school enrolled in Kumon. What has happened to all our good teachers??? If a child needs a little more help with something, they send home a note instead of giving them a little extra attention. When I was a kid in school, our school district was rated in the top 5 in the state (MI)...they sure can't make that claim now. Stick to your guns!

Kiki said...

Mrs F. this makes me SICK! I am so sick of whatever is happening that is creating this culture of bullying!! Heathey just told me the other day that she found out Chantz was being bullied on the school bus....UGH, I wanted to fly (yes, fly) up there and throttle the bus driver, the principal and the parents of the kid who was bullying my precious, sweet nephew!!! Why are children punished for being age appropriate? Why are children allowed to be mean to each other? How is that ever ok??? I feel so terribly for Kid, her sweet soul and kind spirit.....I'm sick that her teachers aren't capable of seeing how AMAZING she is, what a joy she can be to have in class....that silly sense of humor that you only get to see when she trusts you with exposing her funny self!!

Only you and Mr. F know what is right for you, for your family....if someone is giving you a hard time for a choice that will only make life better for ALL of you....then forget them-not worth the effort!

My love to you and Kid today!!!

Mr Furious said...

This is an extremely highly-rated school district, and for that reason we were prepared to go in open-minded and give it a real chance—we bought this house in no small part because of this.

But with "highly rated" came a definite concern: is this due to an exemplary program that creates well-rounded, successful students? Or, is this a system geared single-mindedly to excelling at the testing that determines that rating and the requisite funding.

Regrettably, it appears to be the latter.

Apparently the delivery style varies from one classroom or teacher to another, but what we've seen so far is thoroughly unimpressive. Kid's class is completely dependent on worksheet learning. For everything. At all times. Fun time? Word searches.

Seven hours a day of fucking paperwork punctuated by brief bouts of socially outcast at lunch and recess? This is no longer a stimulating, exciting experience for Kid, it's like punching the clock at a crappy job.

You've never met a child who loved school more than Kid. She would come home positively beaming—excited to share the things she's learned. LEARNED! Actually understands, comprehends and takes ownership of the knowledge.

Now? It's repetitive tasking and memorization for short term testing. She can't even remember what they spend time on in a given day.

I see the toll it is taking on all of us to go through this pointless exercise, but worse than that, I can see the thrill of learning and growing sapping from Kid by the day.

Kid's a gamer, still craves the routine and contact of a school experience, and wouldn't ask to come out. And I see Mrs F struggle with the decision I feel we made with conviction over a week ago.

I could give a shit about what anybody else thinks, about offending her teacher, or anything else—I just wonder if we're giving up too soon, if something's going to turn... But I really don't see it happening. Not anymore.

I was already convinced that there's no point in making Kid suffer through a less-than-fulfilling learning experience if we have the cpacity to do better, but I absolutely don't want her to spend a single second having her self-esteem eroded along with her will to learn.

We thought we'd give it to Christmas...or the first conferences... Why? I know what the teacher will say: "Kid is doing great." She is. On paper. She gets 100% on all of her tests. The teacher with 23 other kids isn't catching the subtle social cues and doesn't know what kind of student Kid COULD be. What kind of student she WAS.

No. Kid is making exactly the kind of measurable progress they are concerned with. That just doesn't have anything to do with the kind of experience Mrs F and I want for her.

Nicole said...

you do what you need to do....'cause you're the mom....and you know what's best for kid... :)

HC said...

It breaks my heart that she's being bullied. I can't imagine how it must feel when it's your kid. You know best - go with your gut on this.

Gigs said...

Your story resonates with me in so many ways, as we really struggled to find a way for my youngest to fit with a school environment. He is also on the "young and innocent" side. Last year I thought I was going to have a breakdown with the bullying and the lack of response from the teacher and the administration. Many heated conversations at the school (fuck 'em. don't worry about offending the school - they are supposed to be there to serve your child's needs). Somehow we all survived and this year is like a whole other planet. My kid is happy, has lots of friends/playdates, and has amazing teachers, which I am hear to tell you, makes all the difference in the world. It has completely changed our family dynamic for the better. So taking it a year at a time is a good plan. Do what is best for Kid, it will improved things for your whole family, and everyone will be happier.

Gigs said...

um, that's here to tell you, not hear to tell you...

Reesa said...

Mrs. F., you are my hero. I can't tell you how many times I have read one of your posts and said to myself, "I hope I can be a mom like her one day." You are so engaged in your children's lives. It is such an inspiration to me! Thanks for sharing these bits and pieces of your life because you are helping me. Good luck!

moley said...

Mrs F. - I had just the one eye surgery a year ago but as my macula was affected by the detachment my central vision in the right eye is practically non-existent. This makes it quite hard to read and use the computer although it is getting easier as my brain adjusts.

I was thinking about getting a kindle or an ipad so I can crank up the font size. The large-print book range is very limited! The books I read with the kids are usually large enough but it's nice to get stuck into a juicy adult novel occasionally!

I saw my surgeon this morning and she said my eye is settled and as good as it is going to set so I don't need to see her again unless I get more problems: with the severity of my myopia I am at risk of the other retina detaching as well.

Mr F. - you might be interested in the writings of John Taylor Gatto. He was an award-winning teacher in New York who became disillusioned with the school system. One of his books can be read online for free here: http://www.johntaylorgatto.com/underground/toc1.htm

Mrs Furious said...

That is the nicest thing anyone has ever said to me. Thank you so much. I really do try to be the best parent I can be to them. So thank you for seeing that.

Simply By The Sea said...

I think you are making a wise decision.
Homeschooling has so much to offer..... including so much less wasted time (standing in line, waiting turns, doing worksheets)
More time outside, experiencing so many of the subjects at one time... science and nature, geography, Phys-Ed, Socializing with adults at various locations in the community, library visits, museums, road trips, music lessons etc.
From my research, many kids transition with no problem when they are ready, and some never do, and still move on to University or College with no trouble, often advanced beyond the high school level.
Hold your head high and know that you are doing what is best for you all!!

julie said...

I just read through all the comments. You guys are making a really good choice. It must break your hearts to see the change in how Kid feels about school after how much she loved it at her old school. Yes, kids are resilient, but these are fragile times when the foundation is being built in how a child feels about themselves, how they feel about learning and the world.

You and Mr F are such good parents.

PS I love how the school break down the years. That is how I had it as a kid. I know some school systems think that is too many transitions, but what is life, but a series of transitions. It gives everyone a fresh start. and throws everyone off balance...so it hopefully breaks up the cliques a bit.

PPS I would have been Kid's friend if I was at the school (and if I was 30 something years younger). She is a total hot shit.

Karen said...

I havent had a chance to read the other comments but wanted to say you go girl. You gotta do what is best for Kid. Children should not have to suffer bullying. I have been there and it shaped me into a totally differnt person. I often wonder what I would be like if my formative years would have not involved the bullying. Kiss her for me. I hate that for her. I am in tears just thinking about it.

Kelly said...

Im taking Mykaela out of school too, for mostly the same reasons. She starts the South Carolina Virtual Charter School in about a week. The curriculum is through K12, and they do offer private homeschool curriculum if a charter school isnt available in your state (I dont know what the cost is because since we get our homeschool curriculum through the charter school it is free). I think you're right. It is not worth sending them to traditional school to be bullied and do work that is mediocre at best and not challenging in the least. Good luck. I know everything will work out for the best for you guys!

Amy said...

All charter schools in MI are open to all students, and they are free. Homeschooling sounds like a great option, and I don't want to discount that, but I did want to mention that beyond AA Learning Comm, there are a number of charter schools in the AA area that are well-regarded, have different strengths, etc. Might be worth checking into for a future year.

oh, and my kids aren't school-age yet, and I'm a HUGE public school advocate, but this post and lots of other things i hear about teaching the test, memorization, etc, makes me very nervous. I don't plan to homeschool (not a good fit for my family), but charter and private schools will probably get a good, hard look by us.

Good luck and you're definitely doing the right thing for your family, so good for you!!

Mrs Furious said...

Thanks. I had been interested in Honey Creek before we left and think that might be a good fit. Of course we can't apply until Feb... if there any spots for next year still remains to be seen.
Re: teach toward the test... I have to say it's been a wee bit appalling. We were really expecting to be impressed by this school. Everything has been worksheets so far. Even on the worksheets all questions that involve independent thinking... are... answered by the teacher on the board and they copy it down. And every week they send home the bundle of papers they've done that week. She was doing more advanced work in Kindergarten. She hasn't learned anything this year. It's all copy work and while she is technically excelling academically (100% on everything) she isn't taking anything in. You can be completely tuned out and still copy a sentence.

Deb said...

Yes. Do whatever is right for her, and laugh all the way to Harvard or wherever it is she wants to end up.

We're in the process of evaluating other options for my big kid right now. I'm not terribly happy with the public school experience so far, and he's in one of the best districts in the country. We're leaning toward Montessori right now.

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