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"The Surprise Temper Tantrum" - May 16, 2006

by Mary Jo Thayer

The year my husband and I decided to explore homeschooling brought an unexpected reaction from one of our children. It wasn't the pre-adolescent 10-year-old girl prone to hormones. It wasn't the stubborn six-year-old boy who did not like change. And, it certainly wasn't the two-year-old who began, out of the blue one late May, sadly and pitifully to say each day after his lunch, "When can we go get my tids (kids) from cool (school)? I miss my tids." It was the eight-year-old, the child who up until that point had never questioned or argued about any of our parental decisions.

It wasn't like our kids weren't in on the conversation from the get-go. It wasn't like there wasn't the drawing card that our best friends were going to leave the same school in favor of the homeschool adventure. So, what in the world happened when we made that decision for our family and told her so?

This is what happened. We decided to talk to each school child separately, so that they would have the opportunity to say whatever was on their minds without any pressure from their siblings. So, we brought in our older daughter first. No problem. She was ecstatic! She's the one who asked to be homeschooled in the first place. Then we told the kindergartner because he happened into the house at that moment. No real reaction. He was too focused on getting back to the sandbox. That left the younger daughter, whom we had to interrupt from outside time. Our first bad move.

Being the smarty pants that she was, she kind of knew what was coming. Was it because our older daughter had already gone back outside with a cat-who-ate-the-canary grin? Me thinks so. Anyway, daughter number two came to the kitchen table all solemn-looking to hear us out. We began, as all parents do when they get the impression that the message will be hard to hear, with lots of smiles and positive reasons a family might choose homeschooling. The look on her face told us she wasn't buying it. Not for one blessed cent.

As we got closer to the actual announcement, her chest started to heave a little and her face got red from trying to suppress emotions. As soon as we were finished talking, the poor little thing could not hold it in any longer. She threw herself under the kitchen counter and began wailing and whining like no tomorrow, "I will not be homeschooled! I donít want to be homeschooled! I donít want to leave our real school! I'm not doing it!!!"

We were quite unsure of what to do. We had never seen this child have such a fit over anything. She was the perpetually happy one, like her father. She was the one who was blonde, blue-eyed, dimpled, and bubbly. She liked everyone, and everyone liked her. She was the one in class everyone wanted to sit next to and partner with. She was loved by students and teachers alike. She was the hub of every classroom she had ever been in. What the heck?

Then, it hit me. Like a ton of bricks. She was used to and enjoyed her celebrity status, and it scared her to death to have to come home and be treated like a regular joe. She was afraid, as the quiet complacent child, that she might just evaporate into the woodwork and that no one would notice.

Iíd like to say that after some wise and kind words from her parents that this child took to the idea of homeschooling. No sir. Not on your life! She knew she had no choice in the matter, and she did not like itĖat all! She did come home for schooling that next fall, and she was her excellent academic self. But, every now and then, she would ask (er, beg) to go back to school. This pattern continued through all of third grade and half of fourth. Then one night while I was tucking her in, she surprised the heck out of me by saying, "Thank you, Mom, for homeschooling me. I couldn't stand to go back into a classroom with all that confusion."

And, since that moment, there have been no more temper tantrums. At least not from her!

Used with Permission.
Mary Jo Thayer