3. lone; solitary; without company; companionless.
Today I encountered the biggest obstacle so far to home schooling: A confessed that she misses her friends. As we walked through our neighborhood I asked her about it. The conversation started because I overheard her tell her sister, "Trust me. You don't want to be home schooled. Even I miss my friends." This was a few days ago, but I waited for the right time to ask for more information. Our walk today seemed like the right opportunity - low key, we had a few minutes to talk, etc. Basically what she told me is that she misses her friends and the casual interaction she used to have with them. She misses saying something funny and having a friend laugh at her. She misses just hanging out together.
This is harder than just about any other obstacle to home schooling I could have envisioned because I am so uniquely ill equipped to deal with it.
My heart broke a little as I listened to A describe how she used to like saying something off the wall and making a friend laugh. (Her most frequent companion - me - doesn't have the best sense of humor and certainly isn't as silly as your typical fifth grader.) And the heartbreak didn't get any easier as we tried to brainstorm ways to make things better. I'm short on ideas. I tried to provide for this on the front end of our year: A does Spanish lessons, tutorials and dance classes with other girls her age. It's not enough. While she enjoys her tutorial, she's not forming close friendships there. I think seeing them only every Tuesday hasn't been enough for an introvert like A. She dances three days per week, but clearly the bulk of that time is spent dancing or listening to the teacher, not playing. So what am I to do? We already have after school activities every single week day - Monday through Friday. Where do I fit in play dates for her?
I know how she feels. The final gift I received from the recent death of a friendship was a true understanding of the emotion of loneliness. Because I now know what it used to be like to share a frustration, a challenge or a laugh with someone just by giving her a quick call. Unlike A, I'm trying to hang on to this loneliness a bit and let it do its work on me. If loneliness is supposed to remind us of the value of relationship, it should (perhaps?) ultimately motivate me to try again. But I find as I try to envision that, there is still a piece missing. I know the value to me of a friendship, but I'm still a little foggy on what I bring to the table. I'm waiting for the lesson to migrate from my head to my heart.
So how does a mother as conflicted and ineffectual at friendship as I help my 10 year old determine a way to combat loneliness in a home school environment? Is it possible to teach your children skills you don't possess yourself? Is this a battle she's meant to fight alone or the result of a choice J and I made on her behalf?
I'll admit this is an example of when I struggle to stay in the moment. I hear A describe her solitude and I envision years of being a loner because her parents mistakenly thought a year of schooling at home was a good thing. We can't go back. We can't enroll her in a suitable school at this stage in the game. So how do I go forward and help her navigate this year day by day? Because I don't want us to give up on our year together right now. We're only nine weeks in. There's too much ground left to cover, too many experiences left to share, too many surprises to uncover together.
|A - All Alone|