We consider ourselves very lucky that both of our children gave very clear distress signals.
Thing 1 (it is an affectionate name for her before you call social services) was nothing short of a mess. We are never going to forget that time.
She had always been a little bit touchy about school and was never excited about going. Although fine when she was there, when she came out there was the daily explosion of resentment, frustration and anger……at 4 years of age.
We stuck with school, we got through 4 years of it but our child was becoming painfully unhappy. As simple as that.
During her third year, she developed a vocal tic. Fairly minor really, just a repetitive short humming sound. We could hear her in her bedroom, reading to herself ‘hmm, hmm, hmm, hmm’. She would watch TV, ‘hmmm, hmmm, hmmm, hmmm’. It was slightly unsettling but a quick ‘Google’ proved it was nothing to worry about, quite common for her age and likely to pass. Well, it was going to get worse before it got better.
By the end of the third year, her vocal tic was going like the clappers and she had developed a physical tic to match – we don’t do things by halves in this family. So on the last day of term, my husband and I sat and watched her playing in the garden as she ‘hmmmm’d’ and twitched her afternoon away. It was pitiful. It was like she was being given tiny electric shocks every 2 seconds. Not cool.
It was not in the least bit surprising to us, that the tics calmed down enormously over the long summer holiday – only to return in September when school started again. We thought at that point that her health and happiness mattered more than anything she could learn in the classroom, but it still took us a year to take the leap.
I feel awful about that but it was a joint decision. We asked her what she wanted to do and she said she wanted to give school a try “just for 7 more weeks”. Random number of weeks but we went with it. She managed a year but, my goodness, that was a difficult and emotionally draining year – for everyone.
Meanwhile, Thing 2 (it’s an affectionate nickname don’t forget) was like The Incredible Hulk on steroids. My beautiful, gentle, funny sweet little 4 year old was angry. Really angry. This came after a short period of extreme controlling behaviour, we had:
The stair times – “Mummy, no. Go back down the stairs and then step with that foot at the same time as me”
The blanket times – “The blanket isn’t straight” (52 flicks of the blanket later, we can all relax).
The night-fright era – When a black eyed child would wander into the living room at 11pm, start moving furniture and screaming abuse. It got so bad we had to message the neighbours to say not to worry, it was just a mild case of possession and once the exorcism was complete, all would be well. It was in short, disturbing.
Finally, we had the ‘blind rage’ period. Oh my, this was on another level. It mainly happened at bedtime (I later realised because that meant school was one sleep away) and it sounded like someone was being murdered. His bed would be stripped, toys would be thrown,the mattress removed (he really did not want to go to sleep). He would shout abuse for an hour at a time and I would eventually take him for a ride in the car to calm him down. After about 20 minutes of driving (with him still shouting and hitting the back of my head) he would suddenly stop and talk in a calm and polite tone. I genuinely thought he had a serious medical condition. I felt sure he would need a brain scan. This went on for quite a few months….right up to the point we started home-educating.
Our house was all ‘One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest’ and now it is not.I do not accept co-incidence as a possible explanation for the peace and calm we now have in our home. I will body slam anyone who dares to suggest that they have simply ‘grown up’ or come through a ‘phase’. Please. Don’t even go there. School made my children unhappy and ill. Home educating has made them happy again. This is all we ever wanted.
I started this lengthy post by saying we were lucky. Our poor children endured some horrible things but it made the decision to home educate simple. Now, when challenged about our decision it is very easy for us to justify and remember why we are doing this. I admire the brave people who took the leap, even when their children seemed happy at school. Brave and brilliant people.
So, now we are on a mission to raise children who understand that mental health and happiness comes first EVERY time.