In an ideal world, I’d homeschool my son. Correction: In an ideal world, I’d solicit the help of experts in many fields, establish a school according to my own evidence-based values, and send my son there.
Once Upon A Time, I thought homeschooling was what I would do. I was entranced and enamoured with all the learning I could facilitate for my son; the places we could go, the ideas we could share, the freedom we could enjoy, the people we could meet, the space we could create, the projects we could complete, the interests we could satisfy. The person he could become. The person I could become.
After we broke up, my son’s dad made it clear that that wasn’t something he would ever permit. And, don’t get me wrong, if he had agreed to it, it would have been really fucking difficult for me to find a way to sustain us financially while homeschooling, but at least I could have tried. I felt like my dream had been stolen.
I lost so much of the future I had envisaged for us when I broke up with my son’s father. Not only did I lose half of my life with my son, but I lost the life I had promised him when I was pregnant; the future I’d been designing before he was ever conceived; before I’d even met his father. I had dedicated so much time, love and energy to exploring how to raise a child who not only expands into their true potential, but feels entirely at home in themself, eager and empowered to contribute to this world in beautiful, meaningful ways. And now it was off the table.
Okay, well at least let me have the extra year. School is not compulsory in the UK until age five. Children can start school at age four, but they don’t have to. Let me try it ’til he’s five. Let me homeschool before we need to declare it homeschool. Let me show you what it could be. Give us the gift of that year.
Crestfallen but determined to make the most of the situation, I scoured the marketing materials of the local schools and found a beacon of hope. A fairly new school, not bound to the standard curriculum. Based on a nature park, and matching my loose philosophy, it offered children two days of outdoor learning, plus the option of a Flexi Day. I had found a school I would feel comfortable sending him to. And I’d at least get a day each week where we could live out the future I’d so carefully and painstakingly dreamed of.
The school was an easy sell, primarily because it was closer to Daddy than me. But when I held out the flexi day agreement for him to sign. No. He needed more time to think it over. He didn’t think it would be good for our son. Who is this man and how did I ever let him put his reproductive apparatus in me? Weeks passed, my son in school, no flexi day, no reason to oppose, just no, and a range of evasive fallacies. My character called into question. My ability and knowledge diminished. My motives deemed suspicious.
I centred myself. Reminded myself there was still time. Reminded him that this was the most important time. I pushed for some justification for his refusal, so at least I could begin to resolve it. No justification; instead fine, I’ll sign, if it’s that important to you.
So…what was all this for? It has never not been that important to me. You just stole more of our time for no reason. Just take it, Yve, your indignance will get you nowhere.
All of this is to say, after submitting evidence of what we’ve been doing on our hard-won flexi days, the vindication of my son’s teacher’s positive comments is visceral. Because, like it or not, I’ve internalised my ex’s tendency to question, criticise and undercut my intentions and my self-belief. I don’t know how long that’ll take to undo. But, until then, at least I have evidence that I’m doing a good job.