Last Saturday was just the best.
My mom (who just happens to be in town this week!) and I got up early and drove south to see Carole Joy Seid speak! I was so excited!! After reading some of her archived newsletters and hearing her speak on video, I was already pretty confident that I wanted to use her methods (based heavily on the Charlotte Mason model) to homeschool, and hearing her speak in person confirmed it. And I was so thrilled to share the day with my fellow-book-loving mom, who confessed at dinner on the way home from the session that she still thinks I'm a little crazy for choosing bring my kids home and have them with me all the live-long day, but understands much more after listening to Carole Joy Seid's engaging, confident, and thought-provoking points of view about literature-based education. I left the venue feeling encouraged, positive, and excited - bolstered by not only the main speaker, but also by a panel of veteran homeschoolers who have been applying these methods for years and seen amazing results.
I also left with a strong feeling about Cameron. Up until now on this journey to homeschooling, the plan has been to send Cameron to kindergarten at our neighborhood public school while Leila and I work out the kinks in this first year at home together, and then, Lord-willing, depending on how that goes, bring Cameron home the following year.
Since we made the decision, there have been small nudges about having Cameron home for kindergarten: anecdotes from friends about how it's easier to have two at home than one because they can entertain each other; gentle warnings from our school about not keeping the family together; and, as I go about finding books and doing some early planning, being wistful about Cameron missing out on the fun Leila and I are going to have at home! But ultimately, on this issue, I chose to defer to my husband's opinion that it would be better for everyone to have Cameron at school and Leila at home this year (and based on previous experiences, most notably during our time of fostering, I have come to trust my husband's assessment, especially when it comes to knowing my limits, which he is more lovingly realistic about than I am in my egoism and pridefulness), though we have agreed that if things don't go well in kindergarten, we are open to bringing him home at Christmas break.
But as Carole Joy Sied began her presentation, Cameron's name kept popping up into my head as she spoke about: specific challenges second-born boys have in traditional school environments; the extreme strengths and extreme weaknesses of young children (Wes and I also make the comment that Cameron seems "manic" with his rapid changes from one emotion to the next); kinesthetic learners; and immature nervous systems and the "acting out" that can actually indicate a breakdown, not just a naughty kid.
At the first break I texted Wes, "I think I want Cameron at home with me," followed by the big-eyed emoticon that I call the "oh crap" face (it's the same emoticon I probably would have used to accompany the news of my second pregnancy that was totally unplanned and supposedly prevented and resulted in the arrival of our exuberant son, if I was to share that kind of news via text).
During lunch I confessed to Mom: it is hard for me to discern between my own feelings and the Holy Spirit leading. Despite everything I had just heard that morning, should we continue to follow through on our current trajectory of sending Cameron to public school (his enrollment papers have already been turned in!) and then wait to see how the first semester goes and hope for the best? Or do I trust that the still, small voice that all morning was bringing Cameron to the forefront of my mind is the Spirit, and that we should just take the plunge with both kids at the same time.
We returned for the afternoon session and I was again overwhelmed with thoughts of Cameron as we heard research and anecdotes about power of being in nature: the ability to manage stress improves with the removal of electronics which equals less meltdowns in kids; being in nature can improve cognitive function, immune functions, and has been shown to reduce concentrations of adrenaline and cortisol for up to a week. I've already seen first-hand the differences in attitude and cheerfulness that my son has after a hike, despite being dog-dead tired, compared to the same level of tiredness after doing pretty much anything else, and this session was more than convincing and encouraging to me.
As the afternoon went on, Mom and I frequently looked toward each other and mouthed "Cameron" as Carole Joy Seid and the speakers panel continued to share. And we headed north for dinner and home with some impending changes to what I had thought would happen (this seems to be a theme for me lately!). We got home late, shared some cupcakes we'd picked up on the way with Dad and Wes and shared a few brief stories from the day, but it wasn't until Mom and Dad had left, teeth were brushed, and just before lights out that I said to Wes, in person this time, "I think I want to have Cameron at home and not go to kindergarten." And he said, without pause, "ok."