My son, who is soon to be 10 in a few months, boldly told a stranger today, “We’re homeschooled! That means I get to spend a lot of time with my family. It also means I don’t get to spend enough time with my friends.”
Doh! Talk about pressure!
So this is what went through my head during the 1.2 seconds that it took for him to say this, and for me to create some kind of reaction:
What? He’s never told me that!
What will this person think of me after this?
What will she think of homeschooling?
I have to be a supermodel of homeschooling. I wrote a book about it for goodness sakes!
Is this really what he meant to say? Cam’s still learning about how to use words in a way that express his true thoughts.
What can I say after that? Do I apologize? Ignore it? Change the subject?
Do I need to get him more friends?
Am I ruining my son?
He seems happy with our social schedule. Why is he saying this?
It’s just his perception of what school is, not reality.
So all of that went through my head. What I chose to say and do:
“Is that so Cam?” I said this in the same tone I would ask, “How are you doing today?”
He quickly moved on to another subject because he apparently had more to say, “If I did go to school, math would be my best subject!” Then he added, “See, I have this cool math book (and he did), and a calculator (and he did.)”
After that, the stranger seemed very uninterested. Was she afraid he’d start rattling off the quadratic equation to her?
Soon after, we left. And again I asked him if he really felt like he doesn’t see his friends more. He said, “Yes.”
I replied with, “Well, get to it then! Make playdates and get together with your friends. What’s stopping you?”
He thought for a bit, then brightened up. “You mean I can call them when I want?”
“Of course!” I said.
“Do we have their numbers?”
“Of course!” I said.
“Alright, I’ll call them and we’ll get together!”
That was five hours ago he said this. Apparently, he doesn’t miss his friends THAT much. He hasn’t asked me for my phone, or their numbers.
I wonder about things kids say, and I think that perhaps there is no way to avoid the “grass is greener” approach to life that they have. And that we can’t blame ourselves if they want something different. It’s normal and natural to think that maybe a different life would be better. So I tried not to make him think that he is just fine how he is now, that he’s wrong, or that he’s not perceiving it the right way. I let him feel that he doesn’t see his friends enough. And waited. I waited to see if just how real, and life-pervasive that feeling is. Or if it was something that he just said as he imagined the life of a school kid during the conversation about school.
I am not above admitting we aren’t seeing friends enough if that’s really the case. And if he wants to be with his friends more (and it isn’t a sign that he’s not happy at home), he can be with his friends as much as he wants. Invite them over! Go over there! Call them! I am not attached to being the keeper of his social schedule.
But, from what he actually does, he seems to still like hanging at the house, and letting me take care of social hour. He gets enough. If he didn’t, he’d have already called his friends by now. The phone’s right there. He knows how to use it. And he’s got permission. Is it really a parent’s responsibility, or even a good idea, to jump up and make more playdates because of one comment, and to fix it for him? What would be the real reasoning behind doing that? Especially as a homeschooler?