Wednesday, May 9, 2012

I Like My Kids

We live in an odd culture. Much of it is built around separating families.

There is HUGE cultural pressure to send kids to school, and often, to preschool and daycare, beginning as early as six weeks old. There are places where the competition to get into the "right" preschool is intense, and the schools are as expensive as an Ivy League University.

Along with this pressure comes a bizarre thing: people who proclaim publicly about not wanting to be with their children.

The ads start about halfway through the summer. You know the ones I mean. Parents dancing and singing while pushing a shopping cart through the back-to-school sales, happy that school is starting again. Children with downcast faces, sometimes tears.

Once school starts, we get articles like the one I saw comments on this morning, on facebook, called How to Thank a Preschool Teacher.

The article starts with this quote:

"If there were no schools to take the children away from home part of the time, the insane asylums would be filled with mothers." -Edgar W. Howe

In the article, the author states that she would rather be on a 15 hour non-stop flight than spend two weeks at home with her children, she thanks the teacher for making the child feel safe "especially on days when Mommy is feeling irritable," she reports using preschool art activities as an excuse for refusing to do such things with her child at home, thanks the teacher for telling her that hitting other children is normal, and thanks the teacher for answering questions because she, the Mom, is "tired of talking to the kids."

The worst part of this is that I believe the article is intended to be amusing and entertaining.
Apparently, complaining about your own children is "funny" in some circles.

When I was pregnant with my first, people told me- frequently and repeatedly- that I'd never have a life of my own again. People I knew with young children complained about being "brain dead" and "bored to tears." Most couldn't wait until they could send their kids off somewhere else- anywhere else. And since we started homeschooling- meaning we did NOT ship the kids off elsewhere for the majority of the day- the most common comment I've heard is "I could never do that. I'd go crazy being with my kids all the time."

On the flipside of that, I know some teens who will bolt out the door, and never look back, the moment they graduate from high school. They want to spend time with their parents even less than the parents want to spend it with them.

To all of those people, the bored parents, the brain dead parents, the tired moms, the frustrated teens, the irritable moms who would rather be anywhere but with their children, to all of them, I say this: I'm sorry. Your stories make me incredibly sad.

For the record, I like my kids.
I like spending time with them, and have since they were born.

Since they were very small, we've played together, and still do. Word games, board games, pretending, whatever. Not five minutes ago, I was ambushed by two of them with squirt guns.

We work together. Sometimes, that is around the house, cleaning or baking or making things. Other times, it might be one of them assisting with a class I teach, or often, three of us are on fire or medical emergency scenes as a team. On fire scenes, my son has a higher rank than I do. I'm fine with that.

We go out dancing together. We watch movies together. We grocery shop together. We sing in the car together- often in harmony.

We aren't together 24/7, like some imagine that homeschooling families must be, because we don't all have the exact same interests. But we do share a lot of interests. While I'm not always, or even nearly always, with ALL of my kids, I am, often, with at least one of them. I have things I do without any of them, but that has mostly been in the past few years, since they've gotten older and more interested in and able to go out and do things on their own.

Their interests expand my world. There is so much out there, that if I had to be the one doing all the exploring and researching, I'd never find half of the cool stuff that I get to see, hear or otherwise experience because one of my kids found it, or found out about it, and shared it with me. In particular, one of them has musical preferences very similar to mine, which has brought a lot of great music to my attention. One has similar academic interests, and shares articles and other information on a regular basis. All three are interested in cooking, in different ways, and bring recipes or ideas to me that I might not have considered. There are all sorts of other things they share or tell me about; the list is endless.

We have a wide variety of discussions, ranging from base humor to philosophy, from how and why people do things, to the latest internet memes. I value their thoughts and opinions.

We all still live in the same house, even though the older two are at ages at which my generation would have long since left home. It makes more financial sense than them trying to afford an apartment on their own, since we have the room. If they weren't here, I'd have an entire large house to myself, which is pretty wasteful, really. I imagine they will move on eventually, but no one is in any hurry, and really, it is entirely possible that they may not all move out. Multi-generational households are becoming more of the norm again, with the current economy.

So all of the people out there who can't stand being with their kids, or who are in a hurry to rush them off somewhere else, I'm truly sorry for you all. I can't imagine what your lives are like, and quite frankly, I don't want to. I have no interest, whatsoever, in spending more of my time alone, or in doing interesting things like traveling, without interesting companions. My kids are some of the most interesting people I know. I'm sorry that you don't feel that way about yours.