The Little Ball and Chain

          Today is Monday and for many kids in this country, it is the first day of the fall term. Welcome to the 2010-2011 school year! If you are in South Florida, we say ‘Go Coral Reef Barracudas!’ Anyways, all three of our kids are in school today and we are in the middle of some serious ambivalence. We have some sadness mixed with elation mixed with exhaustion and a smidge of ennui and a lot of ‘now what do we do’s?’. One thing we are very clear about is that it is a good thing they are in school.

          Lee says: Our opinion on homeschooling has been pretty clear. In case you missed it, here it is: We don’t like it! As former educators, we believe in the scholastic atmosphere. We believe in the need of a child to explore his educational environment, relate to peers within the academic setting and the experience of school. School was never supposed to be just a place where you learn. If it was, it would have been called a learnatorium. One important thing we learn in school is detaching from our parents.

          The concept of attachment has been discussed on this blog. We have talked about the unhealthy nature of being attached to objects. About making things the end all be all of life. We have discussed that attachment in the Buddhist faith is suffering. And if you recently left your 3 year old in pre-school and they finally realized this was a permanent gig, you really know the pain of attachment. But school teaches us how we need to become our own people outside of our parent’s gravitational pull. This is a life lesson that we are not graded on and it will never be mentioned in a college application. We hardly ever stop to realize the importance of letting our children go.

          To raise a healthy kid, a parent must teach a child the following concepts: I trust the world. I trust you. I trust you in the world. These concepts are the basis of separation/attachment. Yes, it is very gratifying to know that your child loves you and will miss you. However, if your child refuses to detach then you know you have failed to teach them that the world is a safe place or that they are safe in said world. Of course some crying and pleading is normal. It is scary to do something new. But the inability to assimilate or accommodate oneself to a new environment stems directly from a lack of safety and trust than anything else.

          So why mention homeschooling in all of this? Homeschoolers are teaching their kids that the world is scary. They are teaching them the world cannot be trusted. They are definitely not instilling their children with a confidence we derive only from separating from our parents.

          Here is a simple experiment. Remember the first time you were on a swing? You probably had Mom or Dad pushing you and you only went so high for fear that you would fly off and receive a closed head injury requiring a CAT scan. Now, do you remember when you were able to swing all by yourself? How high did you go? How exhilarating was it? You were on your own and the only thing keeping you from flying was a chain and your own desire to soar.

          The swing is an exact metaphor to life. We are attached because with love comes connection. But being attached and being enmeshed are not the same. We choose to have our children experience the world and all its flavors. Right now, Ricky is choosing to see detaching as a punishment only while we are still in his classroom. He calms down the moment we leave. I guess he feels we need the show of how much he loves and misses us. I trust this little show will end soon. I don’t know how many more ‘Please, don’t leave me’s!’ I can take.

          Paul says: The best part is that he gives Lee the ‘Please don’t leave me’ but when we pick him up, he runs past her and hugs me yelling ‘My Daddy’. Yes, it’s good to be king.

One comment

  • As a psychology student, I am studying child and adolescent psychology this term and I have to say that what you said makes perfect sense to me and is right in line with what my text book says as well. As a parent of two teenagers who have always gone to school, I always looked forward to them going to school because it gave me some time to be able to do things such as grocery shopping without them constantly asking for things that they do not eat and all of that jazz. School is a wonderful learning place for both kids and parents.

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