Facts I’ve learned from being a parent.
Hardest thing I will ever do.
- Most important thing I’ll ever do.
Two weeks ago now I got up and got my kids ready for school as I do every other weekday. We rushed around, yelled at each other to find socks and hurry up breakfast. We called for stolen underwear and cried over misplaced bus passes. We got shoes mixed up, one all lefts and one all rights.
Then finally Bella declared she was ready. With a quick peck on the cheek she was off.
Half hour later I was buckling aka wrestling, children into car seats and off to the bus stop myself.
I was in the shower, wrist deep in chemicals scrubbing the tiles when the phone rang. Molly and Buddy were happily playing and allowing me this moment of domestic bliss aka hell, so I let it ring and kept on scrubbing.
It rang again.
I stopped and went for the phone but missed it.
I listened to the message that was left and I heard something along the lines of…
“Mrs Yager, this is Mr… from the high school. Please call us immediately, Bella has taken prescription tablets. Call us immediately.”
My heart dropped. I began to shake.
“What the heck?” (or something similar went through my mind.) My child? MY child???
It was panic.
I did not expect this on this ordinary day. Actually….any day.
I called. And was informed that a fellow student, a young girl had raided her mum’s medicine cabinet and grabbed what she could and decided to bring it to school, and that Bella and 4 other kids had taken some.
They’d called the poison hotline and were told that what they’d swallowed was an anit-nausea tablet.
(But those kids wouldn’t have known that! It had a big long name on the bottle.)
The part that distressed me the most?
My daughter simply put something in her mouth and swallowed it.
Would she have done the same if offered rat sack or some serious drug by a ‘friend’?
This is not what I’ve taught her.
This is not AT ALL what I’ve taught her.
She wouldn’t take something from a stranger…(or would she?) but she would from a ‘friend’?
How did this happen???
“My friend* showed us the bottle of tablets and said she wanted to get high, I’m not sure what that is…. She asked me and my other friend if we wanted one and we said no. But when the bell rang my friend changed her mind and said she’d try one. I said I’d have one too. I bit the tablet and it tasted gross so I spit it out, but my friend said to have the rest so I put the other half in my mouth and she gave me her fizzy drink to swallow it with so I did.”
Oh god, hard to hear, but I wanted to know what went through her mind.
Not a lot as it appears.
Thankfully another student saw the kids doing this and told a teacher about it. They immediately searched for the bottle, which the ‘owner’ had thrown in the bin and they called all the kids involved into the office to keep an eye on them and call parents and for medical advice.
After meeting with the vice principal and crying like a distraught idiot, thankful I was picking up my child from the high school with a two-day mandatory suspension rather than visiting her in hospital in a coma!
We came home.
An hour or so later I was called from the high school again.
They further informed me that the drink Bella was given to swallow the pill was full of vodka!!!
Bella didn’t even know.
The told me they’d called the poison hotline again and that by now if ‘anything was going to happen it would have by now.’
Pills and alcohol???? 12???
I’d been so happy for Bella having made new friends, she’d joined the principals award scheme….she wasn’t at all focusing on her education (this was not entirely a surprise with Bella though) but I was confident that once she’d settled with this new group of ‘friends’ she would get into the routine of learning.
To say I was wrong and living in some magical fantasy land is an understatement. Not all things work out, not all things ‘fall into place’ without some persistent guiding.
The 12-year-old girl who’d decided to get ‘high’ that random day and raid her parents alcohol and medicine cabinet for some unknown reason and then involve MY daughter…..and then with a ‘friend’ decided to ‘rough up’ the student who had informed the teacher!
Honestly, if they’d taken something dangerous (or MORE dangerous) they’d be thanking that kid!!!
I had no clue this would happen or be happening….I’m not ignorant and I did stupid things when I was young….but I’d been aiming for ‘difficulties’ of this sort for around year nine…never if I was one of the lucky mums.
I am not proud to admit the fact that in this scenario, I would have been the instigator….I would have been the girl who’d raided the cupboard….I was the ring leader…..I was never one for peer pressure….or to pressure others…I just did whatever I wanted, stupid things or not….Figuring that Glen and I rarely drink let alone have a supply of alcohol in the house and the strongest medication in our house is panadol….I just didn’t think that others would expose my child to these things…………
I figured if Bella was curious she’d talk to me or question me, we’ve had many an awkward and uncomfortable conversation I wished we hadn’t but glad in the end she’s confident to come to me….
But there wasn’t even any forethought…no motive in this split second decision to ‘just do it.’
This was not what I expect from Bella, in the first term of year seven.
It’s no secret that I am open to home education.
And that is exactly the path we’ve chosen to travel now.
The school snail mailed me a ‘plan’ for Bella’s future involving behavioural tactics and binge drug and alcohol type educating…..
I mean when the principal of a school who didn’t even know your child existed as an individual until something bad has happened holds a piece of paper in front of your face so your child can’t see that reads ‘head lolling to the side’ and ‘eyes rolling back in the head’ are the possible symptoms of the pill she’s taken…….
What can I say?
I think I should have a greater say in the ‘plan for Bella’s future.’
I’d decided long ago that home education is the BETTER option for education, especially for Bella as an individual. I know her well. I know that she doesn’t take her education seriously, I know that school is merely a social gathering for her. I know that teachers are over worked and don’t have the excessive amounts of time (or patience) they’d need to get Bella up to speed in every class.
She’s ALWAYS been left behind in school, one of those kids that are difficult to teach and doesn’t learn in the same way a majority of the class does and no one ever makes room for the minority.
As long as the top two thirds of a class passes…..the rest are just labelled ‘slow’ or ‘difficult.’
Her Maths is barely at a year five level, and her spelling is terrible, she’s only now in the last two weeks of home education learnt how to tell the time!
The views of others and the idea that home education is only for ‘religious’ families or ‘weirdos’ was enough to make me settle for a system I don’t care for.
Dear me….peer pressure…DID get to me.
People’s constant ‘oh but what about socialising?’
It just felt easier to do the ‘normal’ thing, to avoid criticism even if I didn’t feel comfortable with it. But you know what?
There have been many incidents where I have been tempted to remove Bella from school. Like being teased and bullied by year ten boys who’d ‘asked her out’ and when she’d called them idiots been bombarded ever since. By girls who make her feel inferior because she doesn’t have the newest of Apple gadgets, kids who make her feel bad about herself because of pimples…(mind you ever second child at that age has them!)
This was the last straw.
Combined with Bella’s lack of comprehension of the gravity of what happened and her lack of thought into it….
This is a slippery slope I’m putting an obstacle in front of.
Enough is enough.
This is our second week of home education and I am so impressed with how she’s working and how well everything is going.
Being a perfectionist I am making sure I don’t miss a thing while still being as relaxed and caring as possible.
I am not aiming for a nazi holding a wooden ruler over her knuckles. I am aiming for a loving environment of inspiration and complete involvement of Bella’s wants and needs where education is more of an absorption rather than a forced feeding.
She’s joined a choir, and drama classes and art lessons which she has chosen. (Hello socialisation with like-minded peers!)
No more messy mosh pit, which there is much time for once she’s developed a healthy dose of maturity and sense of self. I mean this had been a concern of mine too, not having enough time to mingle and be with people, but I was mistaken. She has been able to come to senior citizen morning teas, join groups during school hours….personally I believe she’s had MORE quality socialisation since being removed from school!
She’s enrolled in guitar, piano and photography lessons online.
She’s researching inspirational women who’ve made positive changes in this world for English and reading books which she’d never previously been interested. We’re learning about Australian history and currently in the middle of a project about colonial life, we’re visiting an antique store tomorrow so Bella can test out her new photography skills, taking pictures of items from the 1800′s to create a collage of what life must have been like.
Science, we’re focusing on understanding the human body, how and why it is so amazing in all it’s capabilities and we’ve begun an awesome bug board, collecting insects of all kinds and researching them and adding the information to the board.
Maths we’re simply taking it easy, working on Bella gaining the skills she’d missed out on in school and raising her awareness of the basics like time, money and fractions and from there we will expand once her skills are up to speed.
She’s begun an art journal which we’ve recycled from a beautiful old hardcover book, we’ll be trying out different techniques and making notes and adding it all together to create something she can treasure forever.
At the moment we’re working on her cooking skills and if she decides to move onto sewing, or jewellery making, or wood working, or whatever…. we will.
There’s a lot of learning going on in this house in areas like this anyway, basically we’ve just had to figure out the levels at which she is at and add what society requires of us. Then record and document her progress.
We’ve added world and current affairs which will include learning about the world and people in it and their unique lives and situations, we’ll include volunteer and community work, inventing and implementing fundraisers. I’d like Bella to gain an appreciation of her own life through helping others and understanding how lucky she is, even if she doesn’t have the newest of gadgets. I’d like her to feel useful and worthy and capable of making a difference.
I want to teach her to be a good person.
I want her to learn.
I want her to have friends.
I think she can have both even if it is separate.
So I guess this will be the first of many ‘home education’ posts that is if I get the time. I am still studying myself!
I do not assume it will be easy or always fun, but I do know that it is the very best thing I can do for my own daughter as an individual and if I weren’t prepared to sacrifice, work hard and do all that I possibly could for her then perhaps I should never have become a parent.
So good luck to Bella, good luck to me.
This is just another life lesson to learn and grow from.
If you’re a home schooling mum I’d love for you to contact me, I’m sure I’ll need advice and encouragement along the way.
I hope all is good in the world you live.