why we chose to homeschool : part two

Click here to see part one.

Even though we were six months into public school, it still didn't fit naturally into our life. I'd always planned on homeschooling and longed to pull him out, and my heart was restless; however, "it just doesn't feel right," didn't seem a good enough reason to make a drastic decision in the middle of the school year. As I said in part one, I began to pray a very specific prayer that something would happen to show me without a doubt that we should pull River out and start homeschooling, but that my little boy would be protected, no matter what that was.

One morning, a week or two into this fervent, very specific prayer, I lay in bed, the sunlight streaming into the room, my four-month-old peacefully asleep beside me. I'd spent the night sick, and John was getting River ready for school and out the door. I heard River's little voice outside my room, "But I want to give Mama a kiss goodbye!"

"Mama is sick, River. We have to let her sleep," John whispered back.

Thankful for John and also for the fact that Austen, who was three at the time, was still sleeping, I dozed off back to sleep. It must have been about 45 minutes later when I heard a sweet, little voice say, "Hi Mama." I turned around to see River standing beside my bed. I was momentarily confused -- John must have brought him back home, but why? "Where's Daddy?"

"He went to work," was his matter-of-fact reply.

Chase wriggled awake and I blinked as my sleepy mind tried to decipher what was going on. After a few more questions for River, I figured out that John saw him on the bus as usual, and from there, the kids were dropped off at the school; but instead of going to his class, River walked a mile home by himself in a neighborhood without sidewalks, down a street near a lake.

Immediately, my heart sank. One of the first things I had noticed about River's school at the beginning of the year is that drop-off and pick-up times seemed hectic. Although there was an attempted routine for these times, it was sort of a mess, and in the mornings I always noticed several children of different ages waiting outside with only one very distracted and busy adult to oversee things. It would be so easy for someone to snatch a child, or for a child to wander off unaccompanied, and for no one to notice in the midst of it all. I was always so worried that something could happen during these times, especially because my particular child has always been impulsive and off in his own little world, but I tried to ease my mind and not let myself worry; however, I knew now that this is exactly what had happened with River.

In spite of myself, I laughed wryly. Are you kidding me?! I thought. It was almost unbelievable... I had prayed for a clear answer, and that was exactly what I got. You may see it as grasping for straws, but I see it as a direct answer to my very specific prayer. "Let something happen to show us loud and clear that we should homeschool -- but please protect River."

I called John and was straight to the point. "River's here at the apartment. He walked home from school. I don't even know if anyone has realized that he's gone!"

"I guess we're homeschooling now," John said. We were on the same page!

Yes, after this whole ordeal, of course we had many talks with River about what a serious situation this was. He has always been impulsive and brave, much to my dismay. He is as friendly as can be, and I've always said, while shaking my head, that if a stranger ever came up to him and asked for his help to find a lost puppy, he would happily oblige. (I can say with confidence that now, at the age of nearly eight, he would not do this.) Thankfully, he didn't inherit my sense of direction, and was able to make the mile-long walk home without getting lost, even though we had only walked it twice.

Every family and situation, every mother and child is different. But for us, for me... I never felt at peace sending River to public school. I know to many people, walking a mile isn't a big deal. I know cases of child abduction have gone down significantly since the 70s. (And I know some people can't fathom a 5-year-old child "disobedient" or "out of control" enough to walk home from school without permission. I am not interested in talking to those people. Bye Felicia!)

But this is, and will always be, a part of our story. I entrusted the care of my child to adults -- several adults. Adults I had never met! That's a lot of trust right there. I know, I know millions of children go to school every day and are taken care of and have wonderful childhoods and never walk away from school unnoticed or harmed in any way, but I also know that now, River is where he needs to be, and I have never second guessed our decision. Despite the situation and the thoughts that filled my mind of a thousand different things that could have gone wrong on that walk home, I felt a sense of peace from the moment I realized I had my answer. I knew after that day, I wouldn't be sending my child back to school, and that it was going to be okay.

There were a lot of positives surrounding our public school experience, but I think I knew the answer all along, and that's why it never settled in my spirit. We were meant to homeschool. At least now, at least with these three kids, at least today... we are supposed to homeschool. That may change in the future! And I'm okay with this. I'm not scared, or worried, or concerned in the least. If, next year, I feel a complete change in my heart, do a 180 and send all my kids to public school, that's going to be okay, too. I'm confident that when we follow God's gentle nudges, he works in really cool ways. And when life doesn't work out the way we expect, he can still use these things for good.

There is no black and white when it comes to homeschooling. I am not interested in the school of thought (see what I did there?) that homeschooling is the only way! When we keep our minds open to the unexpected, we give God the "permission" to give us some pretty eye-opening experiences. I love homeschooling and I'm excited to see where we're going to go in the years to come.

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