Deadlines—There’s a Reason the Word “Dead” is in There

Rhino has learned a lot of time management skills in the last year and a half, but she has also learned how hard it is for her to manage her time.  Part of the problem is that without strict deadlines, her perfectionism demands that she’s never ready to finish anything.  Not anything.  Ever.  

Last month she was scheduled to take an AP Bio exam (note that she is still taking the first semester of AP Bio, which she began in August of 2010).  However, she hadn’t finished studying all of the units that were going to be covered.  However again, she had already postponed this exam.  So we told her to go take it anyway.  Rhino wailed and flopped around the kitchen, and there was gnashing of teeth and rending of garments.  Okay, well maybe not that, but it was bad.  So then she went and took the test, and actually she did almost as well on it as she had on all of the other tests she had taken when she had finished studying all of the material. 

One might hope that Rhino would learn from this experience, but right now she is scheduled to take an AP European History exam.  The Missouri school screwed up, and the exam did not arrive on time for her to take it as scheduled.  Now, this should have given Rhino a week and a half in which to do other things before being able to schedule a date for the exam with her proctor (the proctor should be eligible for sainthood, by the way).  So what did she do?  She spent the time continuing to study for the AP Euro exam.

Rhino is supposedly taking 5 classes right now—AP Bio, AP Euro, AP English, Spanish III, and Precalculus.  She MUST take the AP Bio exam this spring because the curriculum for the course will change after this year.  Thus, she will have to do the second semester of AP Bio in an actual semester.  AP Euro runs on a real schedule, so she’ll have to finish that too.  But the rest of the classes don’t have deadlines.  And that is why we are going to be dead.


I’m on vacation now and thinking about starting to blog again.  Here are few things I’m planning to post about:

1. I have become very interested in the religious homeschooling movement, especially the schooling conducted with curriculum from places like Vision Forum.  This movement is connected with the Patriarchy movement, the Quiverfull movement and Stay at Home Daughters.  Don’t know what any of that is?  I will be doing some posting on it. 

2. I am fretting much less about our particular homeschooling endeavor.  I still feel it’s a bad idea in general, but I’ve made more peace with it as an individualized decision for a special case.  I’ll write a bit about how that came about.

3. I met a former homeschooler at a UUCon who is now in a wealthy suburban public high school.  My conversation with her made me think about the long-term implications of progressive homeschooling.  I will post on what I think some of those implications might be.

4. Deadlines continue to be a big struggle.  I’ll post on some of the good and the bad on that front.

5. Stinkbug is having school issues, even at his super-progressive alternative public charter school.  I’ll be writing a little about his issues, how they differ from Rhino’s, and why we will NEVER homeschool him (okay, maybe not never—that seems to be a word to tempt fate).

6. The New York Times ran a  Room for Debate series about a year ago on the regulation of homeschooling.  Conservatives and liberals often had opinions that one might not expect.  I’ve been meaning to post about that series ever since it was published, so I hope I’ll finally get around to it.

7. Rhino is making plans for next year.  I’ll write about how those plans are developing.

I’m sure I’ll write about some other stuff too.  So stay tuned!

The Third Hand

I’m feeling skeptical about the homeschooling endeavor.  Okay, I’ve been skeptical from the get-go, but I assumed there was a learning curve.  However, if a curve keeps curving, eventually it makes a loop.  This hasn’t been a perfect circle—more of a winding road, but if we’re back where we started, what difference does it make?

Rhino (I initially typed Whino—have I mentioned that I’m teaching Freud at the moment?) is stressed.  Very, very stressed.  And she’s lost her European History textbook.  And she can’t focus, so she spent 33 hours watching a vampire TV show online.  She’s sleeping late because she stays up late, but she can’t concentrate late, so she’s staying up not doing anything particularly productive.  RIght now, she is aimlessly walking around the living room and eating a brownie.  She still hasn’t finished AP Bio and she got a C+ on her recent Multicultural Literature test (questions included: which word is repeated at the end of the first story in the unit?).  

At least in regular school, at some point the semester ends, or you have to take the test when the teacher tells you to, and the whole thing is over.

On the other hand, sometimes when you take responsibility for yourself, you learn from the mistake of abusing your time spent online and learn some organizational skills, like keeping track of where you put your textbooks.

I need a third hand here, because on that hand, neither of the other hands is happening.

School Envy

I think I may have forgotten to mention that Twister is NOT going to Rhino’s former IB highschool.  He was accepted late into the local arts high school (public, of course) to study stage tech, and we made him go, for which he should be eternally grateful because he absolutely loves it there.  The bounty of his love, happiness, enthusiasm, devotion, and whatever else he is already feeling for his school (where he is learning to SEW!  I am so thrilled!) is making Rhino feel not-so-much what he is feeling.

First Rhino said she wished she had gotten into that school.  I wish she had too, but honestly, I’m not sure it would have helped.  First of all, as I have pointed out before, school is school.  Just because the school is small does not mean the classes and the structure of the whole thing are not really stressful.  I think Rhino might have been able to stay in school if she had gone there.  I’m not sure “being able to stay in school” is the same as “having a fulfilling and rewarding educational experience.”  Twister generally loves school and is good at it, so his experience does not provide a viable comparison.

Then there is the socialization problem.  Rhino is feeling particularly lacking in socialization—or at least socializing—at the moment.  Yet had she attended the arts schools, she would have been in class with the girl who bullied her through her 8th grade depression relapse, and would have also been in school with people she had been really close to but who got overwhelmed and basically dumped her after she had been sick for several months (note that her sickness does not generate much pity after awhile—rather, it makes her personality akin to that of a dementor). 

But what she is noting now is that not being in school—including no longer being able to take my classes—means she rarely sees anyone her own age.  She sees preschoolers (homeless preschool) and fifth graders (babysitting) and adults (zoo, homeless preschool).  And she sees her family.  This is woefully inadequate in the socializing department.  Even I can concede that.  Plus her best friend seems to have turned into a pot head, which isn’t helping.

So last night, we talked about options.  Rhino says she thinks other homeschooling highschoolers are scary.  Plus, the local homeschooling resource center is not really accessible by public transit, and Rhino has still forgotten to learn to drive.  Then there is the problem that she doesn’t really have time to do anything else; in fact, she doesn’t even have time to do what she is already doing.  So that makes taking on a socializing-based activity difficult.

The real problem is, Rhino wishes that either she looooved school, like Twister and Stinkbug do, because we were able to find schools that were great fits for them, or that everyone else were homeschooling too.  Neither of these things is going to happen.

All I can say is that at least she is not as unhappy as she would have been had she actually stayed in school.

Mixed Messages

When Rhino was two, she often wanted two things so badly that she could not make up her mind.  We are not talking about physical things, but more personality states.  For instance, being independent and defiant vs. compliant and having a good time.  A prime example of this would be, say, pushing the button at the intersection to make the “walk” sign light up for the crosswalk.  I would say, “Rhino, would you like the press the button.”  Being two, she would say, “No!”  And I would say, “Okay, I’ll press the button, ” and being two, she would say, “No!  Rhino press the button!”  And I would say, “Okay, press the button,” and being two, she would say, “No!”  and we we would go on like this until she melted into a sad puddle of two-year old shrieking, “No press the button!  Rhino press the button!”  Until someone pressed the button, and no matter who it was, it was the wrong person.  

I feel like I am becoming a Rhino-esque two-year-old in the guise of a responsible parent.  My current conversation goes like this:  ”Rhino, X College sent you some materials saying that you can apply now and get a decision in 23 days,” to which Rhino, the thoughtful and responsible teen says, “I thought I was going to take a gap year.”  To which the not-particularly-responsible parent says, “Well, I just thought you might want to think about X College,” to which Rhino replies, “Do you think I should go to college next year?”  Totally irresponsible, mixed-message sending parent says, “I thought you might want to look at X College, and then if you liked it and got in, maybe you could defer.”

I have to give Rhino a lot of credit for not saying, “Well, if I like it, why can’t I just apply next year?” 

If I were in her shoes, I might even add “Duh…”

Sometimes the last really will be first.

Distance Learning

I have started my new job, which is good except that it involves 144 miles of commuting per day.  Yes, you did read that number correctly—at least you did if you read it as one hundred forty-four.  144.  It’s a big number.

For the last 7 years,  I have been a grad student/postdoc and have had a 1 mile commute.  I walked to work.  And I walked home.  And I actually just worked from home a good bit of the time and commuted from the kitchen to the couch several times per day.  This resulted in significant fat, but we’re not going to talk about that.

Working from home has advantages and disadvantages other than short commutes and fat, some of which you can read about here:

For me, among the other advantages and disadvantages was the ability to supervise Rhino.  The advantage was that I could ask her what she was doing, see how much time she was spending upstairs (never a good sign), and monitor her mood.  From Rhino’s perspective, it was probably also an advantage that I was available to drive her places.  That would go in my disadvantage column, but it’s all a matter of perspective.

A disadvantage to working from home a lot was that it was a major factor in my becoming primarily responsible for the homeschooling endeavor, a responsibility I appear to have permanently.  And now this disadvantage is compounded by the fact that I am not even home to be responsible any more.  

Perhaps this will become an advantage in that Rhino will become further responsible for herself. 

On the other hand, now that she is voluntarily blocked from Facebook and Skype, perhaps it just means that she will watch even more reruns of Gilmore Girls.  And this will be all my fault because I am the parent, and I am the homeschooling parent, and I am a mother, and we all know that everything wrong with children is the mother’s fault anyway.  Homosexuality.  Schizophrenia.  Autism.  Bad homeschooling.  And a lot of other things, like general unruliness and inability to sew.

I am not called Bad Homeschooler for nothing.

The Bead Bet is Over

Remember this post:
from June 12?

Well, Rhino finished the lab yesterday.

At least, she says she did. 

Does that mean I win or lose?

Tags: Rhino APBio

Wrapping Up, Moving On, and a Small Hissy Fit

Rhino has finished AP Environmental Science, is putting the finishing touches on her War paper (Mr. A did the first round of edits with her), and is almost finished with Men and Women in Society (she has to write one short paper, but it doesn’t involve much in the way of outside sources, which means her slow reading does not cause as many delays).  She still has substantial work to do for Multicultural Lit and AP Bio.  She volunteered on her own to pay the extension fee for going over the one year limit.  Which is good, because we would have made her pay it any way, but now she gets credit for taking responsibility for herself.

So with all that left to do, what did we spend the evening doing?  Enrolling her in more classes!

Well, actually, first Mr. A suggested that she give up working at the preschool for homeless children so that she would have more time to do theater.  And I was not particularly receptive to this suggestion.  In fact, I might have pointed out that as he has contributed almost nothing to the homeschooling endeavor, he has no right to make pronouncements about what Rhino should and shouldn’t do.  And that he has no idea how this volunteer work fits into the grand plan.  Or what colleges are looking for in Rhino, or the fact that her cover reason for homeschooling is that she needed more time to volunteer, or that the homeless preschool gig is Rhino’s absolute favorite thing that she does.  And I might not have said any of this particularly nicely, because when one is a full-time working mother of three who is starting a new job, commutes 72 miles each way to work, takes care of her mother with Alzheimer’s, and just took the 5 foster kittens to the vet to get their diarrhea treated, one can get a little testy about having been put involuntarily in charge of the homeschooling of a brilliant but fragile teenager.  

In the coming year(s), Rhino must take 3 semesters of English, one of economics, and one of “career planning” in order to graduate.  In order to be a well-rounded and college-ready person, she also needs to take precal and Spanish.  

So Rhino is now enrolled in AP European History.  Because as the UU Spirit of Life knows, we don’t have enough to do around here.

War on the Couch

I know you are very, very tired of the war and literature homeschool class, but you are not half as tired of it as I am, because you only confront it on this blog, while I confront it every day in my living room.

Over a year ago, Rhino began a homeschool English class on war.  I thought it was brilliant on a number of levels.  First, her classmates at the IB High School were reading Just and Unjust Wars for their AP Comparative Government class.  There is no online AP Comparative Government; there is only online AP US Government, because the world of online homeschooling is hoping that we can have a repeat of the debt crisis in perpetuity.  But I digress.

Back to brilliance: Rhino could read Just and Unjust Wars with her friends, then use its theories to interpret some works of literature.  We even had a copy of the book, which I distinctly remember not reading for Moral Problems in Religious Perspective, a course I took at Oberlin College.  As a former English teacher, I happened to be familiar with some good works that addressed the topic of war in a way that would appeal to a 16-year old (did you know that Rhino is 17 and a half now?) and still have intellectual merit.  So Rhino began reading In Country by Bobbie Ann Mason and all was well.

Rhino did not particularly like Just and Unjust Wars, and neither did any of her friends.  In fact, most of her friends didn’t read it, and I still give Rhino credit for actually trying to read it, even if none of it stuck.  In any case, she read several other texts that she did like, including “The Things They Carried,” “Defender of the Faith,” and Cold Mountain.  I had planned on having the course be done by the end of the summer (that is summer of 2010), but reading Cold Mountain was a long process.  Rhino finally finished it sometime in October.  

I then designed an excellent paper for her to write, outlining Walzer’s just war theory and discussing its lacks in application to the characters in the literature.  Rhino spent a long time not understanding this paper, mostly because she didn’t finish reading the instructions.

Then there was the bonobo paper, the Facebook showdown, and a semester of catch-up on courses that actually had to be completed by a certain time.  The war paper occasionally came up in conversation, which was good because at least the seeds of Rhino’s labor did not die completely.  They just remained very, very dormant.

So then there were AP tests, and Costa Rica and SUUSI and vomit.  

Now that Rhino is grounded, there is a war paper.  It is currently almost 7 pages long (out of a required 10).  Rhino has been working on it for several days now, ever since she finished the AP Environmental Science class (for which she took the AP test 3 months ago and got a 4).  Why is it taking so many days, you might ask?

Rhino is sitting on the beige couch with the puppy-chewed holes in the cushion covers and is fighting her own war against perfection.  She seems to have acquired a friend’s copy of Just and Unjust Wars (it has a different cover than my printing).  She has ripped the cover off of my copy of In Country and completely lost The Things They Carried (though she found the title story online).  Cold Mountain appears relatively intact, perhaps because we own multiple copies. [Update: Cold Mountain is missing its BACK cover]

Rhino worries that the paper might be “wrong,” that she doesn’t really understand the books, that her paper will not be the most intellectually rigorous piece of scholarship ever produced by a high school student.  She fights against these worries in order to actually write the damn paper.  This is an ongoing war for Rhino, one that began in kindergarten when she absolutely refused to use “invented spelling.”  Her refrain when asked “how do you think it’s spelled?” was “how do you spell it?”  

This was followed up by the pronouncement, “I know mistakes are part of learning, but I don’t like to make them.”

If we can win over that one for this paper, I won’t say it will all have been worth it, but at least this battle will be over.  And I can take a very long nap.

One Down

Oh my sweet UU Spirit of Life!  She finished a class!

Rhino is now DONE with AP Environmental Science.  And with a full 13 days before the course expired!  Now that’s forethought.  She has a full 35 days before her AP Bio class expires and MONTHS before Multicultrual Lit expires.  

I suppose her classes with me don’t have to expire, but I’m pretty expired myself.

Tags: Rhino AP