Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Reflections of a Future Terrible Parent, Part 2

Continuing from Part 1

I'd never really labeled myself as anything beyond being a Christian. I went to a Baptist church back then. We started going because my cousin would go to Awana with her friend, who went to that church. I started going to Awana, and it just naturally happened that we started attending, because my dad grew up there. His parents had become Christians in the 1960s and that was the home church they chose. They still go there. The church also basically ran my school, but I was never aware of it beyond simply knowing. They felt separate and as a result, I never really felt that close to the church. I went on Wednesday nights, and later we'd start going more regularly on Sundays, and I did get involved more in high school. That was pretty fun. But I never labeled myself a fundamentalist. My clothing was decidedly unmodest (my shorts went mid-thigh and I wore a bathing suit to a mixed swimming pool) and my family wasn't that big into hymns. For awhile, I only believed in the King James Version of the Bible, but for no other reason that I had been told it was the best. I don't believe that anymore, and I'm ashamed to say that I made that declaration without any sort of backing or research, checking around, or even reading it  much for myself. Despite all this, I was still pretty normal, and I was never a fundamentalist.

My reading tastes varied, as I mentioned before. I didn't delve into the classics, though. I read teen lit, and a lot of it. I'm sure that a lot of it was vapid and shallow, and I know some of my friends would raise an eyebrow and issue an intellectual disclaimer that the movie version was cute, but sort of silly. All this to say, I didn't grow up reading Pride and Prejudice voraciously. Fine if you do. I more enjoyed Treasure Island and Journey to the Center of the Earth. To this day, I still haven't read it. I might. Pride and Prejudice came with my Kindle app, and I own the 2005 movie (which I did like quite a bit. But it, alas, has "too much drama." Or something.) I still read a lot of YA lit. I liked Twilight (sorry to block your potshots here, but that doesn't make me unintelligent either.) I think part of the reason I do like the genre is because my local library didn't have a lot of it to offer that I liked then, and I was often too embarrassed to venture into the children's section. I'm writing a YA novel. Jane Eyre, as I understand the story, freaks me out a little. I mean, ew, the guy locks his schizo wife up in the attic and starts skirt-chasing a 20 year old, who likes it. That's officially grosser than Twilight right there.

So I won't make my sons or daughters read the classics because they're "good for them." I will train them to make the right decisions and to analyze everything, just like I do, and just like my fiance does. I didn't need ten thousand rules growing up because my parents taught me to think.

I said before that my mom went back to work once I was old enough to babysit my brother in the afternoons. I never got paid; it was just something normal that I did, every day, because my mom sacrificed a lot so we could have a private education. By no means did we live outrageously; our household was a frugal one. There were plenty of summer vacations, because building those memories is so important to my family, even today.

My junior year at BJU, I had this roommate who was mostly a very sweet person, but very sheltered. She was engaged to a man (and they're married now) who very much considered himself an authority in her life, in such instances as not letting her speak to any of her male friends. (I won't even touch on that. Make of it what you will.) Well, somehow there was some discussion or other in the room one day, between me and her and my two freshman roommates, about women working in WWII. (My great-grandmother was one such woman. I'm very proud of that.) I don't remember much about what happened through most of the conversation, but at the end, the older roommate said "But I believe women should have just stayed home after the war" in a condescending tone.*

And now, I can only think how spoiled rotten she was. She wasn't alone either. I know myself that stay-at-home moms do stuff, all day, especially if the kids are very young. It's a hard job. But I have known so many people who hold a quiet judgment for women like both my grandmothers, at least one of my great-grandmothers, and my mom. In a crowd of tenth generation Christian future homemakers and preachers' kids, I know I stood out, having come from a long line of women who worked and sacrificed a lot to give to their families.

So I will not hesitate to work if it means that my children will otherwise not eat or not have decent clothes.

That brings me to another point. See, growing up in a regular school, even if it was a private school, helped me understand people. Now, that's one thing that's not so unique at my alma mater, but there still are a lot of people in this country who are homeschooled. The US is pretty cool about that sort of thing, and I'm glad. But I'm also happy that I was never homeschooled, and it's very likely something I won't be doing.

I can hear the resounding "whys" now. I've actually been asked that, and in a confrontational manner. As if I hadn't thought it through. As if I had no idea what I was talking about.

But I have thought it through, and I have several reasons for not wanting to homeschool my children. For one, I don't want them to get a lopsided education. I only studied chemistry in college for one year, and, spoiler alert, I wasn't good at it. Same goes for math. Now, if there's something concrete I can focus on, like learning by doing stuff hands-on, then I'm good. That's why Physics was easier for me than Chemistry. Not easy, just easier. I still struggled, but I understood it better. I'm even convinced that Calculus could be conquered if one uses objects instead of concepts. But see, I don't know that my kids will learn the same way I do. They might, they might not. I don't want them to get an education so heavy in history and literature that they miss out on math and science and lose any opportunity for a calling. Even if I were to be a stay-at-home mom, my future husband, who is good at math and science, would be at work all day. I wouldn't be satisfied having my kids learn from a DVD. If it's obvious that one of my kids will love math or science, but has no way of learning past the most basic concepts, then there is a failure somewhere. Not everyone can major in English and love it. I sure wouldn't. Props to y'all who do. I believe an actual teacher needs to be there to help where I couldn't. If times are tough from a monetary perspective, I will work too. I've been told that there are bad influences in schools. And that all goes back to raising your child right.

So, I say again, I also will most likely not be homeschooling my children.

What I don't look forward to is the quiet judgment. I already know someone who looked quite surprised, and somewhat unpleasantly so, that I'm a whole two months older than my fiance, because "the husband should be older." Too late, I guess.

I'm not trying to insult anyone with the things I believe and the things I will do; I simply ask that the favor is returned. I'm not horribly altered because my life didn't have fresh baked muffins**, classes at home, and crappy old literature all the time, every day. I had a normal childhood and a normal adolescence. Yet still, I've had people, even friends, tell me the same thing a few times: "I didn't think you'd be a nice person until I got to know you." I don't even know what to say to that.

There's probably lots of other ways I'll manage to be a terrible parent, but I don't care. I learned from the awesomest. Cheers to "terrible" parenting.

*She also, for some reason, thought that my Dad's parents did not have a big wedding because they weren't church-going people at the time, and that it just wasn't important to them. My grandparents were poor. They couldn't afford a fancy old-money wedding, and were married by a minister in his office at his church. Same goes for my Mom's parents, who did attend church regularly. Tsk. Spoiled.

**I can bake the heck out of a chocolate chip cookie, though. Just sayin'. 

No comments:

Post a Comment