Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Boarding School at Home, Part 1: the Catalyst

It's 5:31 a.m. & I haven't gone to bed yet, so bear with me please. I swore I was going to type this all out by tonight or tomorrow, which is technically today, so I will.

It, the whole boarding-school-at-home thing, started out with a couple of catalysts. One really. K turned 13. It, the sass, the attitude, the testing-of-the-waters, the typical teenage hormones, actually came out a couple of weeks before his birthday. It wasn't too bad at first, and to be honest, most days, these months later, it's still not too bad. He's a great kid, truly a wonderful person. It's just...

The sass arrived. Grandpa died & a furious amount of making sure we all had funeral clothes that fit (something we actually keep prepared for considering the amount of funerals we end up having to attend,) and packing and making hotel arrangements (nearly every hotel was booked & then when we did book a place, they didn't have our reservation when we arrived,) renting a car, driving 14 hours straight to get to there, having to celebrate both your husband and son's birthdays on the same days as a family member's viewing and funeral...

Scrambling to look up the entrance requirements to Harvard & Princeton because your 13 yr old has decided he now wants to graduate at age 16. Freak out over the fact that you haven't done enough & now have to add a shit ton more courses to his school load in order to make it happen. Have your $600+ Amazon order stolen from your porch despite the fact that you homeschool in the living room, right near the front door & hear everything that goes on near said porch. (We think it got delivered to the wrong house, despite UPS saying otherwise.) Finding out from Amazon that 1/2 the stuff you ordered can't be reordered and what can will take 3-4 weeks to be delivered to you. You know, all that new stuff you needed for the high school level courses you suddenly find yourself teaching.

You're already really fsking tired of wasting every damn Saturday driving 40 minutes each way to Pokemon League where you have to wait for HOURS while your son plays (okay, so you have your laptop, but still...) And he doesn't like some of the kids there & visa versa, so whenever the mean kids are there you have to hear about it the whole drive back. Also, you never ever can sleep the night before you have to wake up early to be somewhere so you've got sleep deprivation induced stress on top of the other stress & boredom.

You make plans to spend the day with your bf who is also your son's Godmother. She kicks her husband, son's Godfather, out of their place so y'all can have a nice lady chat kind of evening. Why do you do this? So your husband can have The Talk with said 13 yr old son. You homeschool. It's up to the parent to teach sex ed. (BTW, that was also one of the books that got stolen from your porch & you had to wait on for a new copy.)

Well, son doesn't like this at all, despite the fact that he was told such would happen weeks in advance. He barricades himself in the bathroom for 8 hours & throws a shampoo bottle at husband to keep him from coming in. You find out about this hours later in a fsking text message.

You come home steaming mad. Normally, the push-over parent, you ground the kid 1 week for every hour he spent locked in the bathroom. You take away everything he loves. No video games, all but a few of his 100+ stuffed animals, no Pokemon cards, no TV except for a few shows & only when you say, etc. You start stripping his room bare.

In stripping his room bare and shoving everything into the basement, that's when you discover the latest plumbing disaster. Water, apparently, has been leaking from the main bathroom all over the Sewing/Junk Room in the basement. But you can't call the plumber yet. Why? Because your basement looks like a hoarder's house thanks to you being the one to keep all the dead relatives' stuff & using the basement to stash stuff away whenever you needed to quickly clean the upstairs/main living areas.

So you start dejunking like mad, rent a storage unit, lift tons of crap you shouldn't because of your sciatica & arthritis in your lower back, and...wait for in the process that the previous owners had boarded up a window with nothing but fsking paneling & it's caused water damage & mold to another part of the basement. Also, that flood you had from the Christmas of Poo? Yeah, you missed some spots & damaged items.

You finally make a big enough path for the plumber to get in to see the problem. He says it's just an intake leak (expensive of course, but not a drain problem.) Despite the leak being "fresh" water, it still makes the basement smell like poo and you worry about getting dysentery. Your husband had it last time, so it's your turn now.

The pipes get fixed, but your hell isn't over yet. The Junk/Sewing Room needs to not only be cleared out, but the soaked & smelling old carpet ripped up/cut up into pieces, shoved into garbage bags, and then hauled upstairs & outside. The walls & floor need to be washed & bleached down. Soggy ceiling panels need to be ripped out. The walls of mismatched dark paneling need to be painted, a new floor laid in, ceiling panels replaced, and large plastic storage shelving units set up so that the room can made functional instead of returning to a massive pile of "I don't know what to do with it" junk.

And what does your new 13 yr old do during this time of plumbing crisis where he doesn't even have to school nor help you much? He actually gives you attitude and sass. Because that's exactly what mom needs in her life.

So, what does a homeschool mom who's already grounded her kid for 8 weeks start thinking of as punishment? She looks into local boarding schools. I'm sure I'm not the only mom who's done this. In fact, I know I'm not. Turns out, boarding school, at least the one I truly considered, is $46,000 a year and that's not including a ton of extra fees. Yeah. That wasn't going to happen and to be honest, homeschooling works. It's what's best for the kid, sass or not.

So, you start thinking to yourself some more...and channeling a bit of Dalton Academy 'cause you just love Kurt & Blaine...why not do boarding school at home? You've already started stripping the teenager's room of everything. You know he needs more discipline both in his attitude and in taking school more seriously. So why not do it and throw in a uniform requirement as well?

Of course you also admit to yourself that maybe you're too much of a Gleek. Maybe it's a really crazy idea. So you tweet about it to your homeschool mom friends and they actually think it's a good idea. After a couple of weeks, you get brave enough to post about it on Facebook and your mom friends who aren't on Twitter also think it's a good idea. Hell, even your husband, who attended parochial school from K-12 and always thinks you're crazy, thinks it's a good idea.

So you start planning and thinking some more. The Land's End School Uniform catalog, both print and web versions, become your new best friends and stress reliever. (They still are.)

And that's where I'll leave off for now. The next entry will have details on the uniform and probably, maybe, hopefully, some deets about the rest of boarding-school-at-home as well. I've been typing for nearly an hour already, so just expect a few pics for now. If you made it through this entire entry, you have the patience of a saint or need to share whatever it is you're drinking or smoking. LOL!

Oh, and about The Talk? I ended up giving it to him. A few talks actually and they turned out really good. I was very open and honest, related things to the Glee characters, telling him how important what Burt said to Kurt was, that he should strive to have the kind of honest, friendship-built relationship like Kurt & Blaine have no matter if he's gay or straight or bi. He knows he can come to me about anything & was open to hearing me talk about things I was never taught in ps, had to learn on my own, and felt them important for him to know.



  1. WOW. Just. WOW. I'm going to do three things:
    1. check on the state of my basement sewing room (which is underneath our bathroom).
    2. look at the Land's End catalogue.
    3. live in fear that in four years time I'll have a 13 yo. Hormones -- so much fun!!!!!!!!!

  2. No way! The junk room that got ruined because it's under the bathroom, it started out as my sewing room. Luckily, I had all my fabrics...most of them anyway, in large plastic totes.

    And yeah, hormones are so much fun! Going to go blog more now about the uniforms. :-)