I asked my son to write a post for this blog about what it is like being in college after being homeschooled. I was expecting something a little different than what he wrote, but I like his post. He is being completely honest, and I am all about honesty on this blog. We have a pretty good relationship now. We still make each other crazy, but I am learning to step back. I don’t think there is an easy answer to the issue that he writes about. As is typical, there is a huge learning curve for a first born and a parent. Thanks to my son for writing this for me.
From my son
Note: This was going to be a post about the differences between homeschooling and college. It ended up being about how screwing up in college is different and how much I love my parents for not kicking me out when they had the chance.
So I guess I promised I would write this guest post. I thought it would be fun. I’m not sure how much my mother has told all of you about me, but I’m her eldest son. I currently attend Bethany Lutheran College. The thing about college is that it’s kind of like high school in terms of people saying “these are going to be some of the most important years of your life” or “these are going to be where you define yourself as a person.” I never attended a public high school, but it is a phrase I hear a lot, and it’s a phrase that bugs me in both terms of high school and college.
But I digress. That’s not why I’m here. Rather than waste your time boring you with the way my silly millennial generation thinks, I’m going to attempt to not bore you with why learning in college is much different than learning in a homeschool setting.
I guess it’s rather obvious that the two would be different, but when I look at the way I learn here at Bethany versus how I learned at home, I think it had much more to do with me than the environment. Maybe those phrases I put back up there aren’t entirely wrong, but I should probably rephrase them. College is where I learn everything that I did wrong and how I can try not to screw up badly here.
I can’t attest to public schoolers, but I think a lot of where a homeschooler has the potential to screw up is that they’re learning from their parents. I’m very grateful for what my mother did for me, but the truth remains I still didn’t like learning from her. It wasn’t because I disliked the way she taught or that I disliked her. The problem was that I loved her, and I didn’t want my bad grades or my papers to affect the way she viewed me as her son.
I couldn’t make the distinction that during the day she had to play two different roles in my life. She had to be my mother, and she had to be my teacher. It didn’t matter that she taught me throughout high school and most of grade school and middle school. I could not get past that she had to be my teacher.
In college, you don’t love your professors. They are there to give you your grade, help you understand what they’re teaching you, and that’s it. I don’t have to worry if they’re going to dislike me because that doesn’t matter. I don’t interact with them outside of a classroom or office setting.
My mother, on the other hand, taught my lessons while making my lunch and dinner, doing all the grocery shopping, doing the laundry, dragging me to all my doctor and dentist appointments, listening to whatever problem I came to her with, handling family issues, and who knows what else that I’m not aware of. And you notice I list everything she did as a mother because that’s the majority of her day. Even on school days, that is what she’s still doing. Transitioning between parent to teacher never lasted long before she had to run and do the next thing.
So there I was as a high schooler and a middle schooler and a grade schooler wondering why she was making a personal attack on everything I got wrong. Of course, that’s not what she was doing in the slightest. It was her job to make sure I knew what I was doing, and I still can’t understand now why I didn’t understand that then. Now, whenever she asks me if a test or piece of homework went okay, and it didn’t, I still fear telling her each and every time that it was bad. Even when she doesn’t ask me, I can’t help but tell her. It’s like I’m looking to see if she disapproves of me. My first thought when I get a less than decent grade (for the record though, my grades are fine) on something my first thought isn’t “guess I didn’t study hard enough” or “maybe I should improve” or even “how will this affect my grade for the class.” It’s, “OH NO! WHAT IS MOM GOING TO SAY?”
I don’t care what my professor is going to do because he or she will do nothing and keep treating you like a student. They don’t give a flip what I’m doing, and I don’t give a flip what they think about me. I give many flips (twelve if you’re looking for a hard number) what my mother thinks.
I keep telling myself that I’m here for myself and only myself. I’m the only one who needs to care about anything, but I’m lying to myself. I care very much if she’s proud of me. I did then, and I do now.
So now, it is a little easier to deal with. She’s not here. I don’t have to see her around and wonder this all the time. But when I was living at home, she was there all the time. I constantly wondered if she was still angry with me for what I did earlier or what I said earlier.
My sister texted me (Mom, when you proofread this, never tell her I’m telling you this or she’ll kick my butt next time I see her) last year that our mother was weird. They were having some argument in the car on the way back from the mall about college or something like that. Apparently, it seemed like Mom was really angry with her, but then five minutes later carried on a conversation like nothing else.
So again, I don’t know why I felt so… attacked when my mother talked to me. I had the same problem with my dad. He’s really good at English. Like so good that when I write I have to think about whether or not he would mark a sentence wrong. Most of the time, the answer is yes, so it takes me awhile to write my papers. Every time I got a paper back from him, my page may as well have just been dipped in ketchup. There was so much red. I can just remember it now.
“*Insert First Name Here*,” he would say to me.
“Yes, Dad?” I would ask fighting back my rage (poorly) at all the ketchup… I mean red.
“This paper is at a C right now. With some work, it could be a B-. If you do everything I tell you, it can be an A.”
Yeah. I was a teenager. Like Hell’s Kitchen I was going to listen to him… Yeah. My papers were B’s most of the time. I’m lame. He was right. I got A’s in college finally taking his words to heart….
So, sorry, Dad! You were right!
“Darn right, I was right,” I can just hear him say now. Fine. Be that way imaginary Dad.
I’m trying too hard to be funny, so let’s move on. I don’t know how long this should really be, so let me just bottom line this particular section. Loving my parents was something I didn’t think I could do while taking constructive criticism from them.
I’ve told my mom this before, but I’ll say it again. I think what was probably the biggest obstacle was that I didn’t appreciate everything she did as a teacher, and from time to time, I don’t think I even really appreciated her as a mother either. She did everything. She was Super Mom, and I was her spoiled child who thought she was Mom Luthor.
The final months of my senior year, I finally started to appreciate what she did for us. She had to go back home across the country for about a month. Since she was gone, and Dad had to work, I got to teach my siblings. Thankfully, my sister was old enough that she could fend for herself. That was good because I think she was doing chemistry at the time, and I can’t stand chemistry. My brother on the other hand, could not teach himself.
Dearest brother of mine, I love you to death, but you are a pain in the butt to teach. BUT you did everything that I did too. I was kind of like “Ohhhhh. This is what Mom was talking about when she complains that I battle her. She was right, and I was wrong. Ohhhhh.” By the way, those moments don’t go away. Ever. When she came back, I was the happiest person ever because it meant I didn’t have to teach my brother whatever math he was doing anymore. Yay.
I wish teenagers were more rational. Maybe I could have had all these thoughts then and not now while sitting at a table in the school’s restaurant, drinking coffee, and wishing that it could be 5:30 already so I can eat. Aaaaand my coffee’s gone which means quality of writing is going to go down.
I’m terrible at conclusions, so I’ll just say this. Making the distinction between parent and teacher is difficult. It creates a barrier which makes it harder to listen to them. Children don’t appreciate their parents until later in their years, and that makes life hard too.
Professors? Yeah. I don’t love them. I respect and like them, but they take my money. They don’t need my love and appreciation. They have my money. Trust me, I’ll listen to them. Hey, Mom. Maybe if you make dearest brother pay you to teach him, he’ll appreciate it? Nah, probably not. He’d just as sooner be like: “Yay! No school!” The only barrier in college is your own laziness.
So ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, there are three morals to this story. Love your parents. Appreciate your parents. Then spend their money (and your own money) getting a liberal arts degree. Nothing will go wrong!
Love you, Mom and Dad!
P.S. I fully deny being rational. I’m only a sophomore in college. That’s the equivalent of being a potty-trained kindergartener.
P.P.S. Mom, if you use the above post script, I fully deny ever saying that. The coffee made me do it.