In all honesty, we kind of fell into homeschooling. I always perceived homeschoolers as a bit strange, and not because I’d met any. I was just going with the general consensus, or something along those lines. In fact, I didn’t meet my first homeschooler, per se, until I was married, with a little Bambino of my own. And I say per se, only because she was an adult and had casually mentioned that she had been homeschooled, which really surprised because she was rather normal, not strange.

The very first homeschool get together I ever attended, a park day in Killeen, was not all that stellar. I’ll be honest. I’m ridiculously friendly, and outspoken. These families apparently knew each other for a while and weren’t exceptionally welcoming (I have to say, this is not the norm. Most of the homeschoolers I’ve met are incredibly kind, amazing, brilliant, and friendly people I’ve ever had the privilege of meeting – true story). But it didn’t bother me so much: Brooks was enjoying himself and I was glad to meet others that were on the same educational journey as my boy. What I remember most from that day is the fact that I mentioned the word socialization, which actually drew a reaction from all the moms, even the ones who had successfully ignored me up to that point. If I recall correctly, someone actually gasped. Super loud. And then I was given a verbal thrashing of sorts that really taught me never to use that word around homeschoolers again. They were a bit touchy about it (note, that I said they, because at that point I still considered myself separate from homeschoolers, since we weren’t planning on doing this forever).

Brooks is in third grade now, and those who have known us long enough know that for years I’ve said “next year” B will start school. And then the next year rolls around and we’re still homeschooling.

I’ll admit it. I love it. I can’t imagine our life without homeschooling. All these deployments, five in less than ten years, because really if you think about it the first year he was in Basic and AIT And then we were at our duty station a few months before he shipped out. Homeschooling allows flexibility into what has been a rather hectic military schedule. When Brooks is home we can choose to not school. If he takes leave I have no one to ask if it’s okay if we take off a week or two. In fact, we can take school with us (literally).

And I love that we are in control of what Brooks is learning. This is not to say that we keep certain subjects off the table. In fact, in this house we discuss pretty much everything with Brooks, within reason and age appropriateness, of course. We don’t intend to shelter Brooks in any way and love that he can hold his own in various subjects, including current news items. Our curriculum choices are eclectic, to the say the least.

When I tell non homeschooling friends that our school day takes about 3 1/2 to 4 hours I typically get a look, which, depending on how long I’ve known someone is either masked or not masked very well. Sometimes, if we’re on some zen homeschool thing we can get the school done in 3 hours. And if it’s a crazy day, like today, I can stick to the major subjects, take out all the “fluff” and make it in two hours. I don’t like doing that so much because we enjoy the “fluff.”

I’m not one to yell from the mountaintops the benefits of homeschool versus public school. In fact, I think it’s derisive. I’m a huge believer that most parents, most, not all (there’s always a few that spoil that statement for the bunch), have their children’s best interests at heart. Each parent parents in a unique way, perfectly in tune with their families needs, partaking in interests the family enjoys, and involved in the things that they believe deserve the most attention. I dislike when anyone tries to make anyone feel that their choice is superior and that somehow you’re just straight up wrong. What’s right for my family may not necessarily work for yours, and vice versa. But for us, homeschooling has been the best choice. And I’m thankful each day for the opportunity to educate my child, to afford him opportunities that I know otherwise he wouldn’t enjoy. And, of course, I love spending most of my day with my little one. I am me, after all.

I have no idea how long we’ll school Brooks at home. And if and when the time comes for me to send him off to be educated elsewhere, I’ll cry a bit. Or a lot.

What I do know is that when I look back at these deployments I’ll always be grateful for having had the flexibility to teach Brooksy at home, to enjoy D.Brooks when he was home, and that whenever The Man is off, we’re typically here. Vying for the door. And that first hug.

The Boy is getting bigger. He usually beats me to the door now. I’m okay with it. In ten short years I’ll probably be the only one running for the door, vying for my hug, and missing My Boy so much.

Life remains sweet, regardless of the circumstances. Even then, I’m sure, I’ll feel the same.

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