Today my ten year old son made me proud. Not because he and his team had made it to the basketball grand final but because he acted in a way that showed he had character.
When we entered the stadium, all the grand-final-hype was obvious, with streamers and screamers filling the air. Here and there, mascots paraded while banners called for victory. As we approached our team I noticed increasing number of children with their hair sprayed in the club colours.
Next I heard a parent call out: “Johanna, Josh won’t have his hair sprayed!” My son stood beside her, grinning widely but sticking firmly to his decision. As other members of his team approached, one by one they yielded to the hair job. When the game went into action, I noticed Josh was the only player whose hair defied the bright colours. I began to have doubts. I suppose I could have used my motherly influence, “Oh, go on Josh, get into the spirit!” but I had decided to make no comment. Why? Because I respected his stand. No matter how other people interpreted him, I knew he was simply being himself. Besides, it wasn’t my place to put more pressure on him before the game.
Upon reflection, (and I told him this,) I appreciated that he had the strength to stand his ground even with adults pressuring him. This was one of those situations where it became clear that home schooling gives our children a strong sense of self. By his decision, he drew his boundaries, he defined who he was without shame. It underlined for me, that the school system, perhaps unconsciously, socialises children to such an extent that they are conformed into stereotypes, while at home-school our children are encouraged and given the space to be themselves. Home schooling creates individuals with a strong identity. Personally, that makes me feel proud.
While the government spends so much of the public purse, patching up the mistakes of our educational and family systems, (e. g. The Drug/Alcohol ” Tuming the Tide ” and the “SAY NO!” programs) I have the peace of mind as a parent, knowing that at ten years of age, my son is strong enough to withstand group pressure. Saying “No” is no big trauma for him.
This incident means a lot to me, as a homeschooling parent, because we are constantly under scrutiny of family and friends, and hounded internally by doubts: are we doing the right thing? …. periodically anyway. This episode made me feel: Yes! We are doing the right thing!
P.S. Talking about doubt being part of the home-schooling journey, my husband Phil and I devour the Otherways magazine and appreciate the articles that affirm homeschooling in the broader context as a viable educational system The affirmation that Otherways provides, always deals a blow to doubt!