Spring Cleaning

Spring has sprung and my mental list of to-dos has turned another page.

  1. Clutter Clean-up
  2. Take the clothes my kids have outgrown to the Salvation Army (the stack is getting huge)
  3. Clean up the yard after the snow and ice of winter
  4. Plant grass seed and flowers
  5. Clean the refrigerator
  6. Wash windows

And that’s just the start. My most important task, however, is to re-evaluate my son’s home school plan. Cameron is in 7th grade and has, in the past several months, progressively, come to a stand still in his learning journey. I have failed, it seems, my most important job. Have I been so enamored with all the cool things I could teach him that I neglected him, his interests and his learning style?

We have been on the home school train with Cameron for about three years now so you would think we would have it all together. But it hasn’t been easy and when I look back I wonder if there isn’t a better road to take. This journey started when, suddenly, my preteen boy suddenly decided NOT to go to school. I begged him to go, I pleaded, I tried logic, loss of privileges, and my go-to-convincer-of-all-things, I bribed. Nothing could persuade him to return to school. After discussing this somewhat thoroughly with him, he finally asked to be home schooled. I did some research, talked to my husband, and away we went.

Home schooling is challenging in the best of circumstances, but when you have a middle school age boy with ADHD and Asperger’s Syndrome it can be even more challenging. He likes to do things on his terms and in his time frame and nothing, I mean, NOTHING, can change his perspective.

I am not a helicopter parent. I am an easygoing peacemaker. I step back and offer advice and give my children my opinions and my perspectives, but I generally leave the paths they take up to them. I believe that my children are intelligent human beings and have the ability to make decisions about their own peculiar lives. I give them the power to make mistakes or to soar, to shine or to crash-land.

We have had a lot of bumpy roads along the way. At one point I threw in the proverbial towel, because of his stubborn refusal to do “the” work, and we sent him back to traditional school. That lasted about three months and suddenly he refused to go. AGAIN.

Yes, I am probably a sucker. Yes, I am probably easily manipulated. Yes, if I held out he might get with the “program”. But when I looked at things from his perspective I tend to understand his unusual logic and the subtleties of his unique functioning. He has noise sensitivity and touch sensitivity and learning challenges and social awkwardness and he is easily overwhelmed. The classroom was crowded and noisy. It was too small for so many children. I know I would be overwhelmed, so I can only imagine how he must have felt.

So, now we are back on the home school train. We run into roadblocks. We have lots of starts and stops. We start one thing and change to another. We try one method and move on to a different method. Cameron gets bored easily with the same routine, so we switch things up and try a different routine. Around Christmas things started to go south, then he had major surgery so we talked about giving “unschooling” a try until after he had recuperated and then we would “re-evaluate the situation”. I would love to give him free-reign and let him choose what and how he learns, but I fear that his propensity for gaming outweighs his desire to actually learn. So now, we have begun to “talk”. What about switching it up and trying something new? …AGAIN. But what? How do I convince my 13-year-old Asperger’s kid with ADHD to do something schoolish… yet still allow him his autonomy? Is that even possible?

I’m consistently inconsistent, I’m afraid, I am confused, I feel guilt, I worry, I lose perspective, I get frustrated, I question myself. But it isn’t about me, right? It’s about Cameron and his journey. As long as I hold out my hand to catch him when he falls, as long as I give him a boost so he can fly, isn’t that what’s important? Seeing Cameron and his journey through eyes of love…isn’t that where the answers lie?

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