It started about the age of 9 or 10. Okay, lets get real, it started the day my first was born. Worry. Worry as a baby if I didn’t check him every 5 minutes, he would quit breathing. You know how it is with that first child. However, no matter how many you have, I think the worry lasts forever with the intense love and pressure to bring up a happy and successful child.
However, with my oldest boy, it got hardest around age 9 or 10. I know, I know. There is always a stage they are going through. Each age has it’s challenges along with your favorite parts, pulling out the, “I just wish they would stay this age forever” thoughts. Yet this seemed more than a stage. It worried me. It scared me.
From a young boy to this preteen, my oldest always had some social anxiety. As a 5 year old he would run out of parties and hide in my car, the first 2 years of school he would hide behind a busy for baseball or school and need to be taken kicking and screaming, always saying he was “Scared of all the people.” I get it. I was an introvert, and having to be in big social situations was not my strong suit. So I would work with him, understand him, and slowly it got better and better.
This boy has thrived socially so much quicker than I ever did as a child (he at least talked to people). However, around preteen age, things got hard. Maybe it was middle school. Maybe it’s because these preteen ages are such a time of change, growth, and discovering yourself. It got to a point where he seemed angry more than he was happy. It got to a point where, sometimes daily, my baby boy would say he was going to kill himself. He hated his life. God hated him.
I have to be honest, most of the times he said these things seemed to be when he was angry or upset about something. It might be something little or something bigger stressing him out. But you can only hear those words so many times before you wonder if it is a stage and a child just saying things out of anger he doesn’t mean, or if it is how he really feels. It broke my heart to think he could really feel that way.
Each time, when he would finally open up after being upset, it came down to other kids and the way he felt about himself. Yes, kids pick on each other. Pushing into lockers, stomping with boots on his feet, grabbing his nipples and twisting until he’s almost to tears, slamming his locker shut over and over so he would have to redo those darn twisty locker codes that take forever multiple times and try to get to class in time.
Even if it were just boys being boys, my son had a perspective on himself and life that made him internalize the negative things happening to himself. It became, “I’m an idiot”,: “I’m stupid,” “I’m the worst one on the team,” “God hates me.”
I worried constantly. The stress of this would eat away at me, and then one day I learned/realized something. God loves my children more than I do. God is fighting harder for them than I am. It’s not just my husband and I raising him. God has a plan. My job is to unconditionally love him and help guide him to the path God has laid out. My job is also to surrender complete control to God and trust Him.
Once I did this, I felt a very strong pull to homeschool. This was something I never had a desire to do. NEVER! When God is speaking to me, it doesn’t always make sense or always go with what I had planned to do. My talented, handsome, sweet boy was slowly losing more and more confidence before my eyes and one day I just couldn’t take it anymore.
I stayed up late researching homeschool, then walked into the school the next day and pulled him out. It was crazy. I didn’t have a plan. All I could do was pray I wasn’t screwing him up and learn as we went. All I could do was trust that instinct that it had to happen now.
It’s been a year. I tear up when I see the boy before me. Last night a friend of mine said she had never heard him talk so much. I smiled. His confidence is completely different. I rarely hear those scary words anymore. He talks about God more than I’ve ever heard him, and not because he thinks God hates him. He’s enjoying sports again and laughing when he comes home. He will go up to complete strangers and help them or talk to them. He’s going out of his way to help me with groceries, grab other’s carts to put them away for them. He’s randomly telling my husband and I “I love you,” and coming up and hugging me throughout the day. He’s thriving with his music composing, Youtube channel, and planning out his future career in music. He has a group of kids in his coop that are so amazing and all connect. They are all different, yet treat each other with love and respect.
This doesn’t mean we don’t still have the preteen attitude and anger at times, but instead of him being angry and hating life 90% of the time, he is now chatty, humming, and making me laugh 90% of the time. It’s amazing what 1 year difference can do.
Maybe it wasn’t the homeschooling. Maybe it was just an age or maturity thing that needed to develop. However, when I surrendered him to God and felt such a drive to pull him out of school that I don’t think anyone could have stopped me if they tried, I like to think that was God guiding me.
He is more confident socially now being homeschooled than he ever was when going to public school (his coop friends and he like to joke about people saying homeschool kids are socially awkward and how far from the truth that is). But the most important change is the self talk, the self love, and the happiness. I feel like he has matured 5 years in just this 1 year.
When people heard the word homeschool, many had concerns about my son getting behind academically and socially. However, the opposite has happened. Honestly, when I meet other homeschooled adults and children, the exact opposite is usually true. They are perfectly sociable and confident children and very successful adults, not awkward. In fact, they are more social! And if anyone thinks homeschool is putting them behind, they’ve never had to learn Latin at the pace I am learning and teaching right now! I have had many voice their concerns for our choice, but they don’t need to understand.
He may go back to public school next year. A year off may be all he needed for this internal growth. Or he might do another year of homeschool. I’m leaving it up to him.
I’ve learned in life if you let God lead, it might be hard, you will still struggle, but you will feel the weight of the struggle slowly lessen. You will see little glimpses of that path he is planning and you will start to breathe a little easier with trust. Not everyone will understand it. The path might not be what everyone else does or what society says is normal. It might be hard for people to understand why you would do something different than what they did. People have a hard time thinking outside the box, but God isn’t in a box.