When I was young I loved reading the Choose Your Own Adventure books. Remember those books? At the bottom of each page the reader needs to make a decision “Do you choose to walk into the dark cave because you’re impulsively reckless? If so turn to page 38. Do you choose to high-tail it back to the castle because you’re wimpy? Turn to page 12.”
The trick, I discovered early on, is to keep you finger on the page where you need to make a decision. That way if your choice turns out to be fatal, you can easily backtrack and try an alternate route. Yes, the cynical among you might declare this cheating. I call it having a back-up plan.
I wish parenting had such an automatic do-over. That way, when your children were in their twenties, on drugs, and in therapy, you could simply go back and make different choices. Hopefully better choices. Choices that ended with your children thanking you during their Oscar or Nobel Prize acceptance speeches.
I have mentioned before that my family and I are homeschoolers. (Without denim jumpers. Just want to make that part crystal clear.) This decision works for us right now. In fact, the decision to homeschool has opened up doors, provided opportunities, forged stronger bonds, and blessed our lives greatly. From all the evidence I have gathered, it has been a good choice thus far.
However, life is not a Choose Your Own Adventure Book. As a parent, when you choose one path, the other option is automatically denied you. You cannot have both.
So there are moments (especially as the new school year looms before me) when I wonder: am I short changing my kids? No matter how great homeschooling is, would there be more benefits in public schooling? What if, as their teacher, I forget to instruct them on some critical piece of information? And then, for the rest of their lives, my children would shuffle in line at the welfare office, with a prescription for anti-depressants in their pocket and a voter registration card marked ‘Democrat’ in their wallet, beating their breast and crying, “If only I had been in public school. Then I wouldn’t be so screwed up.”
These panicky, cold-feet thoughts usually come late at night, after a particularly stressful bedtime situation or at the end of a long day, when my blood sugar is too low. And I realize, even as I am stressing, that I am being incredibly foolish. I have made my choice and in the cold light of day I feel good about it. It would just be nice to have a little confirmation that I made the best choice.
All I can say is Robert Frost better know what he is talking about. Or I am so going to kick his butt.