Teachers aren’t supposed to yell at their students. It just generally doesn’t happen. And, let’s be honest, no matter how bad the day may have been, if most of us found out that our child had been berated by his teacher on any day, we’d be pissed. We’d march them into the principals office, demanding an apology. We’d possibly request that our child be transferred to another classroom. We’d make it stop, because we no child deserves to spend the day being yelled at, especially for just being a kid.
So why then do I feel like I spend half my day sometimes doing just that, yelling at my students? Granted, my students are my own children, but that only makes it worse, because now not only have you been yelled at by your teacher, you can’t even run to mommy to make it all better. Normally, our school day begins around 9ish and is over before lunch, at 11:30. Today though, today we were at that kitchen table from about 10 AM (all of us were feeling lazy this morning) until after 3PM, with about an hour’s break at noon. The Scientist was feeling that laziest of all. As he tells me, on an almost daily basis, he doesn’t like schoolwork. I tell him he does, just not as much as he likes playing, and we generally agree on this. Today, he insisted that I was wrong and he was right. After going back and for like this for a couple of minutes, I snapped. I yelled something to the effect of this: “You DO like schoolwork! You love learning things! You do! Why are you arguing with me? Seriously? Mommy is not in the mood for this today! Now quit your complaining and get back to handwriting!” This wasn’t the only or even the worst outburst of the day. There were more, that I won’t write out here, but you get the gist. I spent half of my day yelling at him to get his work done. By the end of it, the work was “done” and we were both tired, me tired of yelling and him tired of being yelled at. This, this was not a good day.
After dinner, we went to Mass for the Solemnity of St. Joseph, the patron saint of fathers. During Mass, the Scientist sat right next to me, and he was practically perfect, making noise only once, and only to try and console his baby sister who was crying. That’s when it hit me. He’s a good kid. They’re all good kids. Is he perfect? No. But neither am I. Only I’m the grown-up here. I’m the teacher, the one I’d be railing against if she were yelling at him the way I yell at him sometimes during the school day. As a homeschooling parent, it can be hard at times to take off the Mommy Hat and put on the Teacher one. I generally find myself wearing both, awkwardly and ill-fitting, both of them teetering atop my head, about to fall off with the slightest movement, like when I start waving arms around or pounding on the table, yelling about how someone is “far too old (you know, at 6 and a half) to be taking an hour and a half to do one simple Math lesson!” Teachers in brick and mortar schools can’t just yell to get things done, because they know they’ll be reprimanded, and rightly so. They know these are their students, and not their children, and that’s where the problem comes in: being both mom and teacher complicates things at times, and, at times, leads to the yelling.
All this yelling is making me scared of something. I’m terrified that my kids will grow up and hate homeschooling. Don’t get me wrong. I seriously don’t care one way or the other if they choose to homeschool their own kids. I won’t take it as a slight against me and my choices, so long as they are doing what they believe is best for their own kids. I will be mortified though if they grow up and have only the bad memories, the ones of me yelling, to look back on and therefore end up hating homschooling. So my new resolution (I hate that word), because I don’t want my kids to grow up being yelled at every day, or looking back on homeschooling as a terrible time when Mommy scolded constantly, is to try less yelling. Obviously, if I keep “needing” to do it, it isn’t working anyway. How will I avoid it? I’ll pray. I’ll count to 10. I’ll walk away from the table before the yelling starts. I’ll have another cup of coffee and take a break. I’ll (mentally) go to my happy place and imagine Douglas Sills singing the entire book of “The Scarlet Pimpernel just to me if I have to. Most importantly, I’ll try reminding myself that, those things he does that get under my skin and on my nerves when we’re working, those things that really make me want to yell, yeah, I probably did them all to my mom while she was homeschooling me. And you know what? She didn’t yell. You know what else? I grew up loving being homeschooled, and that’s what I want for my kids.
So, homeschooling moms (and dads), do you yell or how do you avoid it?