I've heard it argued that homeschooling parents keep their kids home from school because they can't deal with their own separation anxieties. Something about not allowing their kids to spread their wings and be independent.
Hogwash, I say.
My experience is that kids who don't go to school are for the most part, amazingly independent. They often have self confidence in spades and have loads more time than their schooled neighbors and friends to practice independence in a variety of places and circumstances.
What is true, for our family, anyway, is that we spend a lot of time together. Because I work from home, and my kids don't spend 35 hours a week in school, we end up being together more often than not. In my case, this is a very conscious choice. I like being a mom. I like being with my kids. We have fun together. Even when we are driving each other crazy, hanging out with my family is what I choose to do. Now that my kids are getting older and asserting their independence more and more, there are times when we are apart, and I'm realizing that it's quite an adjustment for me.
There's no doubt that I'm attached to my kids (you bet, and proud of it!), but I don't buy the argument that this creates an unhealthy attachment or an environment for squashing their independence. It's just that I really do miss them when they're gone.
Last April, Janey went to South America to visit my sister and her cousins. It felt like a very big deal, and I missed her terribly. However, I knew that it was the right thing for her. Despite my anxiety about sending my 11 year old daughter to a foreign country, she had the time of her life and I'm sure she'll never forget it. I'm also very aware that I was envious. I wish I could have gone. No fair!
Today, I get to pick up Charley from the airport. He's spent the past 8 days with his cousins in Seattle and will be flying home on his own. Honestly, I never dreamed I'd be picking up my youngest (age 7!) from the airport by himself! Holy cow! How did this happen? The trip came up very spontaneously, and Charley was game every step of the way. Although I've missed him, and have worried at times that he is awfully young to be so far away from home for such a long time, I know that our lifestyle without school has prepared him for this in every way. He didn't need to be convinced. He knew he was ready. He knew he would miss home, but that the opportunity to spend a week with cousins, away from home, was too good to pass up.
Our phone conversations this week have gotten longer and longer, and although I know he's having a blast, I can tell he's ready to be home.
Next week, Macy will begin a 5 week theater camp. She'll be gone 9 hours a day, Monday through Friday. This commitment is seriously challenging my unschoolish self. It is very structured and attendance is strictly enforced. This isn't my idea of a relaxing summer schedule, but she is thrilled. Although she'll be home with us in the evenings and on weekends, I'm already anticipating how much I'm going to miss her.
Despite my longing to have my children close, they sometimes choose to be away from me. I don't always love it, but I know that it is important for them to decide when and how to leave the nest for a little while. I think it's possible that a life without school, and full of possibilities, is allowing them to know when it's time to stay and when it's time to go.