It's trashed the minute I open my eyes, to the minute I close them at night. Some days I don't open my eyes at all. Some days I photograph the floor, and call it installation art. Then I go berserk and threaten everyone with black dustbin liners. Whatever. Basically, the house is trashed.
I guess if you send the kids to school you can photograph your sofa cushions, and everyone says, that's nice. I cannot find my sofa cushions. They are made into a house for the unicorns. Probably, in the time it has taken to type this sentence, they are off the sofa, down the bottom of the garden, and up a tree.
2. There is no free time.
Really, none. Nope, not enough to shop alone, or slide off to the gym, or scoff a chocolate bar in secret under the stairs. I have tried. One of the little critters will come and hunt you down and find you and snatch that chocolate treat from out of your mouth before demanding paint and string and how do you spell the word microscope because a unicorn up a tree with your favourite cushion wants to be a scientist and, by the way, did you know the sink is orange?
If you send the kids to school I bet you can write novels, paint pictures, mend the fridge, go to work, and cut the hedge.
3. There is no privacy.
Of course you cannot have sex at all if you home educate. Not at all. Because the children are there all the time and don't think they're going to bed at 7pm. No. They are only starting to read TinTin and the Lake of Sharks and have no intention of turning out any lights before midnight, matey. By which time you and your desirable partner are both snoring away, utterly exhausted.
If you send the kids to school you can have sex on the kitchen table with the ironmonger while both of you wear saucepans on your head.
4. It is bloody hard work.
Of course it is impossible to be imaginative all the time. You cannot turn everything into a positive learning experience while desperate for a wee, a cup of tea and holding the door which has just fallen off the washing machine. But because you are a positive thinker, you think, give it 15 minutes and we'll learn how to fix the washing machine door, together. But then you discover you can't do that because of the all-day fight about a dolly's shoe. That's an invisible shoe by the way, because someone has lost it. This leads to demoralisation and feelings of hopelessness. Grit has found it relieves the pressure to wake up in the morning and say to herself I will be imaginative for only 20% of the day and if I make a positive learning experience out of anything, I am bloody doing well.
If you send the kids to school you don't have to bother making a positive learning experience out of anything apart from arriving at the school gates on time.
5. Home education is a BIG responsibility.
And can lead to feelings of ohmygodwearenotdoinganything. Then you hunt out a dog-eared maths book and shout in panic We are going to learn Pythagorasus theorum! What's more, to save time, we are learning it in Latin! Everyone immediately scarpers. In this general area of responsibility I would also include feelings of guilt, fear, mild schizophrenia, emotional trauma and tears of confusion because your two year old does not want to learn Latin, he wants to eat chairs.
If you send your child to school, it's someone else's responsibility and you get to complain about the homework.
Not between you and the offspring about CGP books, obviously. Between the offspring themselves. These arguments are worse. Much worse. These arguments are not, unlike the CGP arguments, ended with the promise of a chocolate bar.
If more than one child is home educated in your house you might have to listen to arguments all day long. Like yesterday. Shark is going to dial 999 now because Tiger has the dolly coat and she STOLE that coat and it is not hers and she can SHUT HER MOUTH and GET OUT OF MY ROOM and I NEVER WANT TO SEE HER PIG FACE EVER AGAIN.
If you send the kids to schools I guess you have this at weekends and holidays, but can photograph your cushions in between.
7. The daily struggle of emotional control.
In response to the challenges in point 6, i would like to scream SHUT THE F*** UP! But I do not. I say Ignore that. Do not rise to that. You are stronger than to take notice of that. These are usually pointless so I come into the office to let go of those spitballs as big as planet Jupiter, swear my guts out, kick the waste bin, scream obscenities at Dig because he breathed in a funny way and then I return to the war zone refreshed and say Ignore that. Do not rise to that. You are stronger than to take notice of that.
Thinking about it, emotional control has nothing to do with home educating. SHUT THE F*** UP! may be something that most people want to scream at lots of people, all the time, and especially at colleagues in the office. So I'm not counting number 7.
7. Children's prattle.
You have to listen to hours of this. For the first year it is delightful and engaging and then slowly it grinds you down. Now if someone was ever mad and blind enough to invite you to dinner again, you could use only this as your dinner party conversation:
this is the mummy triceratops and I have made her armour look mummy look and I made this out of wire and here is a magnet and this is from the time when there were no watties and the magnetic stones were all around the ground and then if I put the magnet near the armour look mummy look the mummy triceratops has a baby and the baby follows her armour and they are going to the shops and they might buy new armour ...etc etc etc.If you send the kids to school your exposure to this type of blabber is curtailed. I bet your cushions look lovely though.
Not of children, obviously. Of self. As in, grey hair saggy bosoms filthy clothing no make up torn shirts eye infections. Clearly this is not true of all home educating parents, but it is of Grit. There is very little time in the home ed triplets day to look stunningly well dressed, and I admire those parents who somehow home educate while managing a stately home, turning out kids for Oxbridge and looking immaculate in the process. I think they have staff. Without staff, and with triplets, all this glamour is very hard work. Not surprisingly, something has to give. Possibly my Tesco value knicker elastic while I am trying to hoist Shark into an apple tree before she spies the man with the Chihuahua.
I bet sending the kids to school means you have manicures, go to the gym, do press ups, wear heels, colour your hair in the latest styles and spend two hours choosing a pair of earrings. Tell me it isn't true and I still won't believe you.
9. You are marginalised.
The ballet mums certainly hate me and turn away from me. Grit's family let her get on with whatever insanity she dreams up since they gave in long ago or died before the true and horrible consequences. On Dig's side we have mostly non-functional relationships, except for Aunty Dee who probably thinks we're as mad as a bag of badgers but babysits once a year anyway. The people at the local shop who have read the papers may think we're child abusers and I'm surprised the man at number 32 hasn't reported us.
If you send the kids to school and waft about the school gates dressed in Dior and clucking about ballet shoes and hairgrips, I bet everyone thinks you must be an ideal parent.
10. You develop a tendency to look over your shoulder.
The state is out to get me. The Local Authority is hunting me down to nail me up. The police are watching me. MI6 is hiding in the front garden behind the privet. The school down the road is sending out spies. I am wanted by the truancy officer who will clap me in irons and slap a school attendance order on me.
Most of these murky thoughts are quite wearing when you are trying to enjoy yourself at the local park. Most have probably been put there by conspiracists. I am sure they don't relate to my ordinary life and I have never yet been stopped by the truancy patrol. This does not stop me watching for the privet to move.
If you send your brood to school you won't have these thoughts. Unless you have taken them out of school and claimed it was a medical when really you were on holiday or on a day out, in which case you are guilty and MI6 is watching you too.
11. Squirrel gave me another. She says parents are an embarrassment to children.
Squirrel says it because parents are there. This, I tell Squirrel, is a job I am supposed to do. In fact, being embarrassed is not the preserve of home educated children, all parents do it to their children. It is normal. The day you were born Squirrel I signed a contract in my own blood. It said I protect your little head at every turn while making sure I am a total embarrassment to you throughout your life.
I suppose today she is referring to skulking at the back of the science workshop. This is embarrassing, obviously, having a parent as a chaperon. Especially one who is trying to discreetly scoff chocolate biscuits when they have been specifically told by the organisers no eating in this room. Ahem.
I know I said 10 but I'm warming to it now.
12. Your children will humiliate you about your educational choice.
When the child under your care, clearly not at school at 11.30 in the morning, starts to yell and bellow in the market square that life is so unfair because they cannot watch DVDs all afternoon, then, to the large assembled crowd, they announce 'I cannot read. I am home educated', you will probably want to die of embarrassment.
If you send your kids to school, they won't say this. But if they humiliate you, you can roll your eyes, tut Kids today eh? and blame it on Jessie in class 3G.
13. You feel you have to justify everything.
On that final note I will compile reasons 11-20, for later use, on why home educate at all.
Not that I am justifying anything, of course.