Sometimes people hear about my son’s struggles with socializing in school and they ask if I’ve considered homeschooling. He’s obviously bright, the argument goes. He’s just not ready to be with other kids. Maybe he would do better at home, learning from you, and then go to school later, when he’s older and more mature.
For a while I considered homeschooling as well, even before the socializing issues arose. I’m frustrated at the amount of time spent preparing our kids for standardized tests at the detriment of play and recess, creative arts, and ethics and good citizenship. I’ve taught before, I could provide him a better education than he’d get in some crowded classroom in the New York City Bureaucracy of Education.
But, no. I couldn’t. Because the kid just doesn’t listen to me.
As proof, I offer the following exchange, which occurred on our walk from a lunch out today. While waiting at a corner, Felix spotted a bus opposite us, idling by the curb.
“Why is that bus stopped on the corner like that, Dad?”
“Well, there’s a bus stop there … ” I said, and then saw the real reason. “Wait — it’s got a red light. It can’t go.”
“No it doesn’t,” Felix said. He pointed at the cars zooming past us, on the street running perpendicular to the one we and the bus were on. “Those other cars are going.”
“Sure, but those cars aren’t on the same street.”
“Yeah, they are.”
“No. See the bus has to have a red light, because the cars on that street are going. If the bus drove right now, there would be an accident.”
“No there wouldn’t. It doesn’t have a red light.”
I thought about this for a minute and then choose to take the high road. Let it go. The kid’s not yet five. He’s wrong, I’m right, and there’s no need to keep at it. But he wouldn’t let it go.
“So why’s it stopped, Dad?”
I tried a new theory and suggested it was because of the nearby bus stop, even though I knew that wasn’t it. Felix knew that too, and said no.
“So then why?” he said again, his voice rising in frustration now.
“I don’t know.”
“You know why. Tell me.”
“I told you why — that bus has a red light — but you choose not to believe me. I can’t make you believe me.”
“Yeah, because that’s not it!”
“Well, why do you think it’s stopped?”
“I don’t know, I’m asking you!”
“We have to stop talking about this.”
“Fine,” he said.
“Cool,” I said.
“Good,” he said.
“Ok, good,” he said.
That was it.
“Stop trying to get the last word!” I yelled at him.
“Hrmph,” he said.
I wish that I could tell you this was an anomaly, but you guys: IT’S LIKE THIS ALL DAY. We’re doing LEGO, and I step in to help him and then, when I fix the problem that he’s having, he says “Told you,” as if he were the one helping me. This doesn’t even make any sense!
There is that cliché about dads and sons not getting along, that we’re at cross purposes from the very start because we both want the attention of the same woman. Maybe that’s it. Or maybe it’s that other cliché, that says no matter how much wisdom or knowledge you have to share with your child, they’ll learn best from other people. Whatever the case, I feel strongly that I’m not the best teacher for Felix. There’s too many other dynamics at play in our interactions.
Of course, if I were to explain that to him, I’m sure he’d disagree!