Test yourself: Are you preachy, arrogant, and annoying?

The secret to the success of this blog is that instead of showing you how perfect my life is, I show myself drinking in the morning, before work.

My husband is always worrying that I make us look bad, so he makes up rules like how I can’t write about our sex life, and then I violate the rules while pretending to follow them. Like, I write about our not-having-sex life.  For example, it’s asparagus season so there is no oral sex because asparagus doesn’t change the smell of just your pee.

The truth is that you guys don’t want to read anyone who thinks she knows everything, so I try to focus only on what I’m unsure about. Like, should you stay with a guy who throws furniture?

At the time I wasn’t sure. So the post was interesting. Now I’m pretty certain that unless that guy has a problem with drinking or drugs, you can stop relationship problems by taking more responsibility for your interactions. It takes two people to fight.

But you probably hated that paragraph because I’m telling you how to run your life. If you really want instructions for how to run your life you can go to church.

It’s more fun to learn things together. Like here’s something I just thought of: People are aging better and better. Like, 60 is 40 which must mean that 80 is 60 and 60-year-olds have sex which must mean that 80-year-olds will have sex. But men aren’t really living to 80, only women. So I think there will be a surge in gay sex in nursing homes.

I’m trying to think of how to capitalize on this trend. Maybe it’ll be a combination of sex aids and nostalgic games from the 70s.

Noa Kageyama’s post last week is about being right. Because he’s a good blogger, Noa blogs as he learns, and he recently learned about the Marshmallow Challenge, which is a great experiment and you should see this video about it. Anyway, Noa points out that if you are really concerned with being right then you are less likely to be right because you don’t test your knowledge. Because you are sure you are right.

This stresses me out because I like being right.

Something I am right about is when Cassie or Melissa or other people who I sometimes want to kill tell me that Quistic is a flailing company, I tell them all startups are flailing companies until they are in the B round of funding, because all startups are really experiments to figure out what is right.

I am right about that even though I am not sure what is right yet about online learning. Good startups flail. Good founders enjoy that feeling.

So why can’t I accept flailing when it comes to homeschooling?

I want to line everyone up. Everyone in the whole world. And I want them to tell me that I am right about homeschooling and they wish they were me. They wish they were as brave as me. They wish they could trust their kids to learn as much as I trust my kids. I want to stand on top of the world and scream: Everyone who thinks I am more right than them about raising kids, raise your hand.

And everyone raises their hand.

Then I can be humble. People like humble. It’s a social skills rule. It’s why parents hate people who are not parents. Because parents think kids make you humble and humility is a good trait. And it’s why people who don’t have kids hate parents. Because people who think they are more humble than other people are actually preachy, arrogant, and unbearable.

Speaking of preachy, arrogant, and unbearable, this is happening on my homeschool blog. I am getting so worried that people think I’m wrong that I am yelling at everyone. I don’t have time to be fun and charming and humble because I want to smash everyone’s head together until they think like me.

But really, I am scared that I’m doing something wrong with my kids. When I’ve been scared before, I could hide it. Like, when I was in the mental hospital for postpartum depression, I just kept writing resume advice. But it’s hard to hide that I’m homeschooling. It affects everything. And I’m getting worse and worse at hidingWhich is probably good. But I’m still scared.

I wish I didn’t need other peoples’ approval.

The thing is, I don’t care if you think nursing homes will be full of sex toys. I know I’m right. I can move on. But I am stuck on homeschool. I can’t stand that people are sending their kids to school when I know they shouldn’t.

But I don’t want to admit that I’m unsure how to make homeschooling work. And I don’t think it’s a coincidence that I starting taking anxiety medicine when I starting homeschooling. And it’s not a coincidence that right after I started homeschooling Melissa started sending me fidget toys so I don’t pick my cuticles from anxiety. And I’m so nervous about not knowing what works to make a good life that I can’t even post this post on my homeschool blog. I don’t want anyone to know.

I just remembered that I was going to make a quiz for this post so you can test yourself to see if you are preachy, arrogant, and annoying. Here’s the test: What part of your life would you never tell your friend about? Whatever it is, that’s where you are preachy and arrogant. You don’t want to tell your friend so that you can pretend that you are good in that area. Secrets are the spots in our lives where we are most devoted to being preachy.

So we all fail the test. A better test would be: which fear can you face today? Find something no one knows about you. Or only a few people know. That’s the thing that you can’t stand admitting because then you can’t be high and mighty about it.

It’s one of the hardest things to do. It’s the focus of the majority of  coaching sessions I do. Invariably the thing that holds us back is we want to be admired for something that we do not actually deserve admiration for. It’s that gap that makes us stuck. And right now I’m suck in homeschooling hell.

Posted in Self-management
107 comments on “Test yourself: Are you preachy, arrogant, and annoying?
  1. Ellen says:

    If you want to know how to have a good life you should start reading Rabbi Jonathan Sacks column. I know you’re not really religious, but he’s brilliant and I know you would like him. His focus on this year’s Torah cycle is leadership. It’s full of all kinds of wisdom for leaders in the corporate world, but also just amazing life lessons.

    • karelys says:

      Ellen I am going to look into this. It sounds so interesting. There is so much of me that I want to improve that I feel like I am shooting in all kinds of different directions sometimes.
      Sometimes I give most of my energy to the biggest issues only to realize that little ones add up to a big one.

      I like the idea of cycles. Maybe I’ll study the Torah.

      This gave me the idea of making a rosary with the principles and traits of the woman I want to become. And then hold on to one every so often, determine a cycle, and work on it.

      I am a fan of having weekly goals in which I focus to work on. For example, last week was so rough. I hate it when people don’t get back to me on time or they get back to me in ridiculous time frames. Then they want something immediately and I have to drop what I am doing for them. So far these have been people who are expected to be very professional and have demonstrated very few professional behavior in the matter.

      Once I was about to tell the accountant off I realized that I would only make it worse because I have to work with her for as long as I am taking care of this business.

      I realized that work is work not so much because of the tasks and the job itself. Work is work because people have different world views, different priorities, different needs, and other people that need different things from her.

      The accountant apologized for being late. Apparently the client prior to our meeting held her back for longer than expected. It helped me be more sympathetic. And to relax my standards for people. And know that one day I’ll need that leniency from people as well.

      So anyway, I have no idea how to start taking a look at the torah. I feel like people study it for life. At the very least I am going to go all wikipedia on it and see what comes of it :).

      • Ellen says:

        karelys, are you Jewish? If you want to learn about Torah, many cities have a local Chabad where you can go to classes. Our local Chabad has several Christians who go to learn so you don’t have to be Jewish. Also Rabbi Sacks, who I recommended above http://www.rabbisacks.org/ is really good and does a lot of work with connecting people of different faiths. The life cycle of Judaism has become a real comfort to me. (Sorry to hijack your comments with religion, Penelope.)

        • karelys says:

          No, but I think that different traditions and religions have gems that have wonderful application in daily life.

          Thank you for pointing me in those directions :)

    • jenX says:

      I see the first comment is preachy. Everyone go back and read paragraph 5. But, hey the Rabbi sounds great, so thanks for that.

      • Penelope Trunk says:

        Haha. It’s so hard to not be preachy. And it’s so hard for me to like people who don’t have strong opinions.

        Sinead O’Connor’s new CD is titled “I’m Not Bossy, I’m the Boss”. I feel like that’s just a positive, fun spin on being preachy arrogant and annoying.

        Penelope

        • Caley says:

          Oh! Have you heard Lily Allen’s song “Hard Out There For A B!t(#?” THAT is preachy. I think every single comment has been really good, and believe me, I’m not one of those say-it-just-to-be-nice kinda people.

          I’ve been home schooling for a year and a half and keep waiting for the other shoe to drop. It’s just not hard enough. I must be doing it wrong.

          We had lunch with my friend the other day and I made the boys calculate the tip. She was stunned. Her son is in the same grade and can’t do it. Gotta wonder if he really can’t, or if he just hasn’t had to.

      • Ellen says:

        How is suggested reading preachy? Just because he’s a Rabbi? (I thought the comment on how to home school much more preachy than my comment!) Sacks is a philosopher and one of the most broadly educated people I read. He is intellectually stimulating and encouraging. And he has an amazing understanding of human nature. Reading him has affected every area of my life. Like Penelope, I come from a dysfunctional family. I needed help, especially with parenting because humans model behavior. We do what we see and have seen. (Okay, I’m even sounding preachy to myself.) What I was doing was yelling at my kids and dominating them to get them to do what I wanted. When Penelope shares her struggles with family I can strongly relate to the them. I’m passionate about Sacks Leadership column because I know how much it has helped. It has given me tools to be a leader and parenting requires leadership. Penelope, just read this one post. Get past all the religious stuff at the top and read at least through to the story about the speech therapist before giving up on it. http://www.rabbisacks.org/metsorah-5774-praise/

        • Mark S. says:

          Suggesting reading is not preachy.

          Opening with “If you want to know how to have a good life you should …” comes across as preachy.

          No doubt there are many ways to have a good life. It’s great that you found something that helped, and that you’re eager to share.

  2. Srini Venkataramani says:

    Liked this article. Especially the paragraph that you thought we won’t like. And I used to love asparagus: you might have just changed that lol.

    If someone as knowledgeable and passionate as you are was super anxious about homeschooling then how can it be right for the majority. At best it’s for a small minority of smart parents who have the time, means, passion to do it.

  3. karelys says:

    Something I am really proud of myself for is to finally not be a slave to what people think of me or wanting people to agree with me that I am right.

    It’s very freeing.

    But at the same I am honing the skill of making people……or…HELPING people see things my way and fall in love with it. I think that’s part of being a good sales person. And I am obsessed with being good at sales because that’s something so off shoot for someone with my personality. It’s my mount Everest I guess.

    I think there’s so much wisdom in this post. The bit about failing startups and how all start ups are experiments on how to do it better. I just love that. I am so held back by fear of not doing it right. That’s one of my big projects.To just go for things and while I am at it, perfect it, shooting for excellence but not letting the imperfect get the best of me.

  4. Amy says:

    This exactly where i am right now. Thank you for the mirror.

    Amy

  5. Ann Stanley says:

    I’m preachy, arrogant and annoying. There’s no doubt about it. So here’s my sermon:
    Halt.
    Stop.
    Forget.
    Relax.
    It’s stolen from an ee cummings poem.
    And also, ‘make no effort’. That’s from Krishnamurti.
    I’ve got my fifteen year old at home this semester because he was miserable at school. I’m looking at options and staying connected with him. This is relieving my anxiety. Thanks for the wonderful post, you human being, you. I’ll come back to all the links later.

    • Penelope Trunk says:

      Thank you for the poetry reference, Ann. I always think there should be more poetry on this blog, but whenever I add a poem I lose readers.

      It seems sneaky in a sort of workable way to slip a poem into the comments. So I found the whole poem that you referenced. It’s good, and relevant.

      little man
      (in a hurry
      full of an
      important worry)
      halt stop forget relax

      wait

      (little child
      who have tried
      who have failed
      who have cried)
      lie bravely down

      sleep

      big rain
      big snow
      big sun
      big moon
      (enter

      us)

      • karelys says:

        I always knew of poetry as this wonderful thing that happened in past generations. I have never been trained to appreciate it. So it’s hard to be enamored with it.

        Perhaps that’s the reason. Maybe finding a way that readers understand and fall in love with poetry is a good move.

        But I have no idea what that looks like.

      • Mark W. says:

        Maybe you could link to poems occasionally in your post for those people who are interested. I came across a poem today in a medium-size box that contained artwork & other papers from when I was a kid. I like it so much I’ll post it here.

        Kind hearts are the gardens,
        kind thoughts are the roots,
        kind words are the flowers,
        kind deeds are the fruits.

        Take care of the gardens,
        and keep them from weeds,
        Fill, fill them with flowers,
        Kind words and kind deeds.

        P.S. – This is a version of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s poem. Now I’m wondering who altered it.

      • Lucy Chen says:

        Love this poem, Penelope. I’m writing it in the quote books I plan to gift to my kids for when they leave home.

  6. Maria says:

    **Virtual Hugs**

    First, just a question about Quinsic. Do you want to make 3 dimes or 50 nickels?

    $99 is a good price point. 3 easy payments of $33 is even better. Take lessons from the masters of promotional “As Seen On TV” marketing. You’ll attract more people. Include a free gift like one of your books as an ebook.

    As for homeschooling. I did it. My baby is 25 years old now, married, educated, happy and fullfilled and making good wages in the medical field.

    Here’s what I recommend. Variety is the spice of life. Coursera offers free classes in over 80 top universities. Just sit them in front of the computer, help them pick fun classes that they would be interested in, make sure they “eat their vegetables” which means make sure they also take classes in things they may not be a fan of (math, science, social studies, languages, english literature).

    What if it’s too advanced for them? You might have to sit with them once in a while, let them explore the course, help them do projects related to the courses, and encourage them to have a notebook and any words they don’t know the meaning of, to write it down and look it up in a dictionary and write it down and ask them to have at least 15 words they don’t know the meaning of per day.

    What if they fail? What if it’s too much for them? They learn about failure, they learn about stretching themselves, they learn about tenacity when they take it again if they like it or take a variation of it.

    Here’s the important part. Apart from the trying and enjoying the challenge NO PRESSURE. NO GRADES without STICKERS FOR GETTING IT RIGHT.

    And encourage them to enter competitions. Then the research is associated with fun and prizes.

    And replace xanax with meditation.

    Just sayin’
    **Virtual Hugs**
    Maria

    • jessica says:

      I like your comment. A lot.

      Instead of being preachy, your bringing a plan.

      Action cures anxiety.

  7. Ayanna says:

    I love reading this blog…the level of honesty is not only refreshing but inspiring. I hope to bring the same refreshing and inspirational candor to my own blog; which by the way, thanks for the tips on how to blog.

    Also, I particularly found your test questions to be most impactful as they resonated with my own fears that have translated to my personal judgement. Having recognized that that’s what it was while reading your post, I hope to actively change my mindset and resultant behaviors.

  8. Lisa says:

    Here’s a thought. This is the school I sent my kids to, and it was great. Truly great. It has been great since 1925, BTW, which is a long time.. And it involved a lot of pottery and camping and weaving. If a good “school” is just like good homeschooling except with more kids and a few more adults, maybe you just need some friends?

    http://www.peninsulaschool.org/

    • Melissa says:

      In high school I was friends with a group of girls that all went to Peninsula. They had a lot of natural confidence, tons of creativity, and almost none of the school baggage that I had acquired from my time at Hillview Middle School.

    • Penelope Trunk says:

      Okay. Don’t get me started.

      But innovative school is still school. There is no evidence that kids need to leave their homes and be stuck in a single place for eight hours a day.

      What if kids want to learn about stuff that is not on the school premises? What if kids want to learn from someone who is an expert who doesn’t work at the school? (Music, karate, speed skating, anthropology, etc)

      The school reform movement makes it clear that there is no place for curriculum based school. (Here’s a link: http://education.penelopetrunk.com/2014/01/02/theres-no-place-for-traditional-school-in-effective-school-reform/) And if you are not sending your kid to school for the curriculum then school is just babysitting.

      Penelope

      • julia says:

        But what is wrong with needing the babysitting? Honest question.

        I don’t think there is right or wrong in your situation (as in most situations), there is only doing. We just choose a path and do what is needed to follow that path, and we never get to 100% know that it’s right. Homeschool, unschool, innovative school or traditional school, your children will find their way. I don’t agree with you that I should homeschool my child, but I respect your thoughts on homeschooling and why you choose that path, and I learn a lot from thinking about what you write about homeschooling. I bet your kids are having a wonderful, chaotic, dynamic, and inspired life, not right or wrong.

        By the way, the children who go to schools like Peninsula spend their after school time developing their “passions”. I’ve met some of these kids and they spend hours after school every day taking dance classes or teaching themselves programming or whatever. At schools like this they are taught to have passions and to spend all of their spare moments pursuing them. It’s kind of funny, actually, to think about this in the context of reading your blog.

        • Penelope Trunk says:

          There’s nothing wrong with babysitting. I have a lot of paid help taking care of my kids. I get it.

          But let’s just stop calling school education and start calling it babysitting. And let’s start asking ourselves if it’s good for the kids to be in babysitting for eight hours a day. I think it’s just good for the parents.

          I also think that some kids really do need a place to go that is better for them then their messed up home. So fine. I’m all in favor of keeping school budgets the same, calling it babysitting, and letting any kid who needs a home away from home go there for eight hours a day.

          Our schools provide great babysitting services for kids who need that.

          Penelope

          • Rachel says:

            But why do the two have to be mutually exclusive? Maybe it can be babysitting that gives some kids a better source of education than they would get at home. Not all parents are going to be good homeschooling teachers (or directors?) just like not all teachers are good teachers or not all schools are good schools.

          • AHLondon says:

            Can I just like this portion of the comment discussion? Because I see both points in a it-depends-on-circumstances way. I do think kids benefit from a base curriculum but that schools aren’t providing it. Currently, it usually is glorified babysitting.

            As for “I wish I didn’t need other peoples’ approval” and being humble–those are a bit tangled up. I think you are spot on that where people need other’s approval is where they act the least humble. They bluster. (Hello, Mommy Wars.) And it isn’t so much that people like humble as they really dislike blustering and humble people don’t bluster. They admit where their arguments are weak. They look for solutions for those weak areas. It is why humility is a good trait, it admits limitations and works from there.

      • Lisa says:

        We found that kids under the age of 14 rarely get so topic focused that they need an expert. And when they do get topic-focused, i.e. my son’s origami love age 5-9, they can fairly easily teach it to themselves out of books, at home. The key thing there is to keep homework at a minimum, so the children have lots of time for self-study in their own time. Curriculum, beyond basic skills, doesn’t really start at Peninsula until 5th or 6th grade.

        The lack of access to speed skaters is, in my opinion, more than made up for by learning how to deal with groups of peers, and adults who are not your parents, and by being exposed to and learning to understand what you do not like.

        • Lisa says:

          Julia, I commented without reading what you wrote, but that was a mistake! I completely agree with you. BTW, my daughter did ballet after school – not that she is now a dancer, but her focus on that intense working of the body led her to neuroscience and eventually medical school. Which no way in hell could I have contributed to:)

  9. The Glad Stork says:

    Just “discovered” your blog in the past few weeks by Googling “Tim Ferriss is a …” . Since then I’ve been absorbing a ton of your content. Just wanted to say thanks for doing what you’re doing. I love the blog.

    This particular post strikes a chord with me, as I’ve been running a “web comic” and a Twitter account for a little while now, but I don’t tell anyone that I know in real life.

    “…the thing that holds us back is we want to be admired for something that we do not actually deserve admiration for…” Yep.

    Thanks for sharing.

  10. Dannielle Blumenthal says:

    This part was so right-on.

    “Secrets are the spots in our lives where we are most devoted to being preachy. So we all fail the test.”

    Also, thank you for stopping me from writing the preachy arrogant blog I probably would have written today :-)

  11. YesMyKidsAreSocialized says:

    I actually think this post is perfect for the homeschool blog. Why are you scared? You are not the only person who feels, thinks, acts this way… I have very few friends left.

  12. Amy says:

    I am so sorry if I am wrong about this, but when I look at Quistic, it seems to me like the courses aren’t “live” anymore like they used to be when it first started. I don’t see “dates” for each class listed. (Again, so sorry if I just wasn’t searching correctly and the live classes were right in front of my face.) I would pay $195 to have a class with live interaction even if I knew I might miss one day, but I would not pay that much to watch a “pre-recorded” class. Even if the class was absolutely great originally, I would anticipate it would feel like I was just watching TV or a video if I wasn’t there “live”. Again, I’m sure I’m missing something, but that is why I haven’t been checking Quistic as much as when I first learned about it.

  13. Marcy says:

    I am a homeschooling mom that taught – in some version of school or child care – for over ten years. I get how you feel and it is hard to put into words. We know we are doing the right things for our kids, but are we doing the right thing the right way? Is there a right way? Who knows… we are pioneering this homeschooling/unschooling world, I know that for sure. We will always feel like crap one way or another because we literally have no one to turn to. Sure, there are moms and dads that have been homeschooling and they are the veterans, but they don’t know our kids, they don’t teach in the walls of our home. I think the way we can feel better is by talking to our kids about how we feel… no, really. Why can’t they help us when we feel like we are flailing? I am just wrapping my head around the idea that my kid understands more about what she needs to learn and how to learn more than anyone else. Screw everyone else – I go to the source. Human beings are programmed to find that spot where we are not bored but we are not overwhelmed – that is where creativity happens, where masterpieces are painted, where the best novels are written, where cures are discovered. That place where we are challenged comfortably…. Hold on mama… you are an inspiration to me and I love reading what you write, because you get it… much love…

    • Marcy says:

      BTW – I live by Madison… if you need new friends… I am a really awesome, sarcastic, opinionated, caring friend… oh and I am so very humble too…

  14. Amy Beth Brochu-Krikken says:

    Penelope! You are a gem. I effing love your blog and rely on it to continue this cray-cray journey that I have embarked upon called homeschooling. I’m a mum of 3 boys:10.5, 9, and 7.5. We Started homeschooling beginning of March.

    I really relate to the anxiety that you describe and the quest to do this right, or at least right by our sons. I am feeling like a new mother all over again. That crazy nervous energy, the on edge feeling all of the time, the running worst case scenarios through my head at bedtime. Never a dull moment. I’ve been thinking that if it doesn’t stop soon, I will consider medication.

    I have so much more to say, (and I’ll comment more often now that I’ve introduced myself.) but please know that I feel like we’re friends, that’s got to be a hallmark of an incredible blogger. You are like that perfect cup of coffee part of my day. I’m just so glad to have found your work, Just keep it coming lady, ALL of it!

  15. Karelys says:

    Re Quistic, id still pay the full price for courses because it’s my way of ensuring that I don’t go about the next five years of my life maybe coming across those aha moments. I’d rather just pay to learn from someone that spent twenty years gathering that knowledge and experience.

    But I want to know, the profitability of a company like that cannot be linked to the sales directly. Otherwise how in the world is Khan Academy right around 2 million? Is it just from investors? And how do they hope to make money if the product is free?

    • Jessica says:

      Kahn academy is a non profit.

      Twitters not profitable, nor are a lot of other companies.

      Google search is free and they make millions.

      Facebook was only
      recently profitable.

      There are ways to make money on free content, it’s about having the right strategy AND the right product- hard duo to achieve.

      • Sandra says:

        Yes, Khan Academy is a non-profit with support from Google and Bill Gates http://www.geekwire.com/2013/salman-khan-academy/
        Also, I think there’s a difference between the product of Khan Academy and Quistic. Both are about learning, but I think in the latter the product relies more heavily on a personality. Btw, not saying that there’s anything wrong with that! Just an observation.

  16. Sarah K. says:

    I’m not sure whether I agree at all. Secrets are simply things we want to hide, sometimes indeed because we want to keep being preachy about them but sometimes just because we want to at least seem normal, and to not be too harshly judged or ostracized by other people. For example, I never learned to ride a bike. I’m not preachy or trying to keep up an image when it comes to bike-riding, but I would rather not discuss the fact that I can’t do something that normal people can.

  17. A. Zad says:

    I was a high school teacher when I came upon this blog, among others. I read more and more about homeschooling, and stared at the horror of the public school system I was a part of- on a reservation, which is the worst situation in the States.

    I’m learning to program now. And my children will all be homeschooled. I can’t stop talking about it with other people.

    So thank you for writing about it.

    • mh says:

      That’s awesome. Best wishes to you.

      Do these children who will be homeschooled in the future already exist? Because you’re already homeschooling them.

  18. Leah McClellan says:

    This is one of those posts that I just love reading. I’d have to think awhile on just what it is that makes me love it, but “disjointed and connected at the same time” comes to mind. Stream of consciousness, maybe. But so fun to read.

    Even when the topic is serious.

    Two thoughts: Yeah, you’re right. If I get “preachy” about something (or even just offering advice at all) it’s usually about something I’m working on in my own life. Or at least something I’ve had to work on in the past.

    I can always tell by the level of annoyance I feel about the subject how close it is to my heart.

    About homeschooling (disclaimer: I’ve never done homeschooling and I don’t have kids, but I’ve tried stuff not knowing whether it will work or whether it’s right or wrong).

    Maybe just trust that your kids are going to turn out great no matter what, just because you love them and you’re doing the best you can for them. Or maybe they’ll turn out to be a combination of great and little stuff you wish you had done differently. But no matter what, this is the path you’ve chosen. You can always change it. You can always ask your kids/husband how they feel about it. And you can just stick with it. Or maybe listen to that fear or worry? What’s that really about?

    That’s how I try to do things, anyway. Usually if I’m on the right path it will “feel” right. I might be anxious and worried, but there could be other factors figuring in that don’t have a lot to do with the main thing.

    Which fear to face today–that’s a great thing to do every day. Also thanks for the tip on asparagus :D

  19. Andrea says:

    I think all moms – regardless of homeschooling, SAHM, WOHM, etc. – continue to doubt or question ourselves regarding making it work for our kids. The stakes are high and nothing else matters as much, so it’s easy to be neurotic about it!

  20. Giselle says:

    You are right. Homeschool IS best. I wish I had your strength and courage to attempt it. I have my two in the best school I could find, but realize that it is school.

    Having said that, I am neurotic and preachy about the quality of food my kids eat, too. But sometimes we eat food which isn’t perfect. Sometimes we indulge. At the end of the day, i know that we are doing the best we can for them on both fronts, and while nothing we give them is ever truly perfect, their school or their food, what we are giving them is very very good.

    My heart aches for the kids whose parents seek the easiest path… For families who don’t have the ability to do more (do you hear the arrogance that I’m ashamed of in there) Thank you for your honest blog and for reminding me that I am doing enough.

  21. sarah says:

    I agree with you about testing, however in my state we have to test. I ignored this rule until 5th grade, then felt guilty. The surprising thing the test did for me was aleviate my stress. My kids tested two grade levels ahead. Oh, I know there are arguments on why its not ok to test, or inaccurate, but it made me feel good. After all my worry I think I get to feel good sometimes. Homeschooling is hard because you are responsible for your kids failures. You cant blame the school.

    I’m already responsible for enough screw ups in their lives – I dont need education added to it. But, my irritation for the education sytem out weighs my stress.

    I try to alleviate my stress by making lists I want my kids to learn. Cooking. Being polite. Time management. Then I think of ways to incorperate it. Earning minecraft time for doing chores by a certian time… (on a side note you should check out http://www.minecrafthomeschool.com ).

    Those things help me feel a bit better, but really, being able to boast my kid is two grade levels a head from unschooling is like a nice antidepressant.

    You know whats stressful? Bucking the system. Because if you are wrong Everyone makes fun of you. You know what the best high is ever? Being right.

    • mh says:

      The kids took the state standards test last year for my own peace of mind.

      It annoyed the children.
      I was very pleased with their results.
      “Prepping” students for that test would be a profound waste of time.

  22. sarah says:

    Penelope,
    You seem to always be worrying about being a good parent. Since I like the sound of my own voice (sarcasm ) I thought I would share my thoughts.

    To me, a bad parent is a selfish parent. Being a good parent is loving your kids. The opposite of selfish. This is how I make myself feel better. I make sure my kids feel loved. I tell them all the time I love them. I smile at them, and hug them.

    I made a list of things I felt my kids deserved, and what makes me a good parent, then I began practicing self control to be my list.

    I am not a patient woman. So I stucture my day to not be in a position of being impatient. I am not clean. So I enforce cleaning times to make myself tidy up….when its just me (or Im talking to my dad ) I’m untidy and deeply sarcastic. Im not that way with my husband or my kids, because I dont want to fail, and I know my natural tendencies do not show love.

    You could call it being a fake, but I am very successful in my home and marriage. I would rather be a fake and taste success, then be a failures who cant have self control.

    By these standards I think Im a good parent. :)

  23. Tracey says:

    I don’t remember grade school, but I remember all the after school activities my mom put me in. And I remember spending time with my family. So if it helps you’re probably giving your children more comprehensive memories of childhood than the rest of us that didn’t pay attention or just repressed all that learning time.

    Actually I have a few memories from grade school and they’re all bad:

    1. Being too shy to ask the teach if I can go to the bathroom and having to embarrassingly get my friend to ask on my behalf constantly.

    2. Forgetting my classmate in my parent’s locked car due to my ADD on a field trip and having them miss out and cry later about it.

    3. Getting lice from the class wigs and having that pass between me and my 3 sisters for 3+ years, eventually ending in humiliating haircuts for us all.

    4. Being sent to the washroom in grade 4 anytime someone in my row farted because our teacher wanted to punish us for having uncontrollable gas.

    5. Sitting out of sex ed classes on my own because my parents were too protective of my learning about my body only for me to get my period during a band performance and have a mental breakdown in the bathroom after convinced that I was dying.

    I had some homeschooled friends growing up. I thought they’d have social problems for missing out. They were actually more social savvy than most kids I knew and more well-rounded too so there ya go. You can put the fidget toys down now :P

  24. Linda says:

    Penelope, I love your blog! I agree wholeheartedly with all of your criticisms of school and enjoy hearing about all of your family’s adventures in homeschooling.

    Many times, while I was homeschooling with my girls, I felt the same way you describe in this post. For me, it’s about trying to be ‘right.’ I have a need (perhaps based in perfectionistic tendencies) to validate all my decisions as ‘right.’ This can lead to judgments and implying to others (sometimes subtly, sometimes not,) that their choices are ‘wrong.’

    Partially due to my homeschooling research (particularly reading John Holt,) I started realizing that much of life and learning are about freedom and experimentation. Learning requires success and failure. And, I came to understand that the ‘right’ answers for myself can also be the ‘wrong’ answers for someone else.

    My girls are grown now. Homeschooling allowed them a playful, experimental childhood. They are sometimes delightful, sometimes maddening young adults. Their lives are far from perfect. My daughters did NOT turn out better than the children of family and friends who went to school. As a mom, my best was homeschooling. Other parents’ best is school–because they believe in it or because they can’t find the courage to make the leap off the cliff to homeschool.

    At some point, for my own sanity (and my girls’–as well as my extended family and friends’) I had to let go of the notion that I was raising my children the ‘right’ way and all who sent their children to school were doing it ‘wrong.’ I had to let go of ‘right’ and ‘wrong’ and just see ‘different.’ There are just as many paths to a healthy adult as to an unhealthy one.

    John Holt started out in school reform. He traveled the country, invited by small groups of parents to speak to large groups of parents about reform. One day he realized that the small groups of parents who invited him to speak, were really the only ones interested in changing education. So he recommended that these parents simply remove their children from school and teach their own. He realized his limits and began catering to that small group instead of trying to change the masses.

    Maybe homeschooling will always be this small percentage of the population. And maybe that is ok. For me, acceptance that my choices are mine alone and that they don’t have to be ‘right’ helps immensely with my own ability to relax. And, I can say with complete honestly, that our best homeschooling days (our best days still, in fact) were the days when I was most relaxed.

    • jessica says:

      I love this comment. Right wrong, black and white.

      Pointing out that the real goal is raising a healthy, functioning adult that can go on to do good things for their community is excellent. It’s not about being the BEST at anything, it’s about being ok so one day they can go on to be better.

  25. Leslie says:

    I went to that pre-school, called Bing, back in the day located on the Stanford campus where the Marshmallow Challenge was conducted. I don’t remember the Marshmallow Challenge but whenever I walk down the hot chocolate aisle at the grocery store my confidence goes out the window. The reason is that the hot chocolate aisle is where the marshmallows are displayed and I know I would have not waited too long to eat them during test. It is the one test that has predicted success as an adult. According to the experiment there is a strong correlation between the ability to wait for some time period in order to get the two marshmallows and success in later life.

    • Jessica says:

      I conducted the marshmallow test on my kid 2 years ago. I was concerned about his ability to hold out. Turns out he’s a smart cookie.

      • redrock says:

        not holding out in the marshmallow challenge does not mean a kid is not smart. It means on average kids who wait longer have a tendency to be smarter. A tendency – it is not a one-to-one correlation.

      • Sandra says:

        Does this test apply to the family pet as well?

  26. Leslie says:

    Penelope,
    I have been following you since I first graduated from college in 2005. I have always turned to your blog during my career transitions, and I really believe in your advice and your abilities as a career coach. I actually found myself really terrified when you picked up on homeschooling and started blogging about it. I was really scared and stopped following your blog(s) for a while because I also am in love with the idea of homeschooling. When I was a teenager I was disillusioned with my high school and read Grace Llewellyn’s book about Un-schooling at my local library. I loved that book so much that I vowed that my kids would not go through school.

    Fast forward to where I am now, I have on daughter who is four years old. I need to enroll her in transitional kindergarten. I really find reading your blog too painful to my intellectual integrity, so I stopped reading it. I stopped because I am convinced you are right and yet the reality of my situation is that I am the breadwinner in my family and can’t afford to quit. I have read your arguments but part of me also thinks that you are on to something maybe a little deeper than homeschooling, and that is the idea that parenting, and education, should both be (almost) entirely focused on career development. I mean, what is more important in life than pursuing a passion and mastering it?

    I have read a lot of books you recommend, and one of them was that book called Flow. You have a deep understanding of what it takes to produce that kind of Flow and I know that you will hand that down to your children. You are an expert career mentor and I think since you do apply your career mentoring abilities to your kids, there really is no chance that they will grow up without knowing a lot about themselves and the way the world works and how to achieve flow. I am not sure where the source of your anxiety comes from, maybe from the sacrifice you have to give to be a homeschool mom but if its that your kids won’t ultimately be successful, than I think that is just irrational/paranoid mommy thoughts that I am sure every parent in the world has all the time.

    I loved your suggestion that we should buy our children a franchise instead of send them off to college. I think that is brilliant because it gives them the real world small business owner experience that will teach them the skills they need to survive and thrive in this commercial world.
    The problem is, when I think of my child skipping college, I get a little sad for her. I personally have a lot of happy memories of college (honestly the happiest memories of my life so far) and even high school and elementary school. My life experience was overall pretty happy in school, so it is difficult for me to keep my conviction that it is a useless place for children. Also, I think that if we cultivate our children’s strengths, learn to observe them and stay mindful about their talents and try to encourage and foster the growth of their natural talents , then we are doing our jobs as parents. I think it is an effective and powerful tool to homeschool them, but I am not yet convinced that it is the only tool or that self-directed learning is something that can’t be taught, even by a mother. What I mean is, that cultivating and growing the ability to direct one’s focus is maybe best taught by example (close relationships with people who are passionate and experts and have mastered some skill) and not by any educational philosophy (including unschooling).
    That said, I am still loving the idea of running a small business and heavily involving my daughter (and future children) in it as an educational force in their life. The jury is still out for me about whether or not at one point I will enter into the homeschool world as well.

    • Jessica says:

      There lots of things to do pre franchise.

      My son runs his lemonade stand (made 80 in 1 hour yesterday). He comes to me with his percentage that goes to his savings at the bank, then saves for his next Lego set. We explain loans (then money he borrows for the tools and products). They other day he wanted to up the price to sell more quicker. I showed in a couple of supply demand charts with time and cost and let him decide what price point. He was conflicted because the chart was against what he wanted, but was confident on choosing the best price for premium results. All on his own. He is 7 now and he wouldn’t see SD charts till high school if he was on school. Kids are smart, start small and they pick up fast.

    • Tracey says:

      Thank you for sharing Leslie. I agree with the below wholeheartedly:

      “I have read your arguments but part of me also thinks that you are on to something maybe a little deeper than homeschooling, and that is the idea that parenting, and education, should both be (almost) entirely focused on career development. I mean, what is more important in life than pursuing a passion and mastering it?”

      I think my happiest memories in life so far have been exploring my natural talents in whatever capacity I can. Sometimes that coincided with school curriculum. Mostly it did not. I think what made post secondary an alright place for me was not having to support myself (prolonged adolescence) and being around a more relatable group of peers than I had been in high school.

    • Penelope Trunk says:

      Leslie, thank you so much for your comment. You make me think about tons of things when I read your comment. I think especially about education being for career. I think that is what I am focused on. I talk to people about careers all the time and it makes me obsessed with thinking about how to help people avoid all the pitfalls I coach people out of.

      It’s so hard to see that the answer is to take kids out of school. It’s not at all what I expected. Like you, I get sad thinking of my kids not going to college. And I didn’t even like college.

      I don’t even know what I’m writing now. It’s late. Because the only time I can be alone is staying up all night.

      And it’s too late for me to be writing lucid comments, but it’s not too late for me to be grateful for comments like yours. So thank you.

      Penelope

  27. SuperD says:

    I think in some ways you a great blogger because you have experimented with many different subject matters and styles over the years. The impact of all of these different ‘stressors’ has led to super-compensation and great blogging skills as a result.

    Oddly, (my preliminary thinking is that) your views on homeschooling seem to be the opposite of this—i.e. semi-ideological and not really focused on experimentation. I perused the homeschooling entries and did not see any that trashed homeschooling and said ‘traditional’ schooling may be better for the kids (setting the parents aside).

    For instance, equating traditional school with special-ed for smart kids may historically be true (and this is coming from someone who was quite bored in ‘advanced’ math classes) but if you start reading a book like “Smarter than you Think”, you will find that there are SOME (very small amount) of teachers and schools using technology to teach to individuals, both in terms of style and grade level.

    The problem and the great irony here, is that the traditional schooling system is so ossified that it resists experimentation and change. Put differently, your greatest advantage in homeschooling is your ability to experiment. (With the decision of the mix of traditional and homeschooling as something of a meta-experiment.) But the preachy characteristics of your homeschooling posts are the anti-thesis of this.

  28. MReid says:

    I say the same thing about older women and sex! I predict a lot of Golden Girls style living situations with “benefits” between the roommates. :-)

  29. Dick Carlson says:

    Oh, take a breath, sweetie! People have worried about being a good parent since babies started popping out! I’d bet you’re doing better than at least 50% (did your baby recently crawl out of the house to the side of a freeway?) (true story).

    I’ve been involved in learning and education for longer than dirt, and I’m really beginning to believe it has very little effect on how we end up as people. Humans are amazingly resilient creatures. Do the best you can, push them out of the nest, and hope they can fly.

    • Ann Stanley says:

      I went over to your website to find out who this guy was who was calling Penelope ‘Sweetie’ (I hope you’re gay!) and was delighted. What a great site! I’ve just ditched my teaching career to start up a little private tutoring business. Everything you say I agree with, including your comment above. It’s funny – homeschooling is right, testing is right, it’s all right. It all depends…Same with calling people ‘Sweetie’!

  30. Maria says:

    I wanted to add one more note of caution not discussed.

    School was my temporary escape from severe physical and emotional abuse. From previous blogs, Penelope, you’ve mentioned how school was also a place where at one point there was an intervention from abuse.

    Home Schooling is not for everyone. If there is abuse, if there is addiction, if there is mental health issues and it is doing a disservice to the children. The kids at times need a break from their parents and vice versa.

    I home schooled my child out of necessity and have no regrets. But then again, I had a lot of therapy to deal with my own issues and not have it affect my child. I had no addictions, I always kept her best interest in my heart and mind. Her biggest complaint? I yelled sometimes. Not perfect. But better than the school she had been zoned for and with all of the school shootings, drugs, bullying and occasional teacher guilty of abusing the children. I was the better choice as a home school “coach” as I liked to name myself.

    I just want to emphasize that if a parent sends their kids to school, it’s O.K. too. They can still use summer vacation to “supplement” their children’s education.

    I know I am preaching…can’t help myself.

  31. Laura says:

    Some feedback on Quistic from one of your potential customers –

    – Your personality test doesn’t seem long enough. When I did the “proper” Myers Briggs test 10 years ago there was nearly 1000 questions. I felt fairly confident that the end result was accurate of my personality. ENTJ. I did your test on Quistic and did not feel confident at all in the result. It typed me as an S which is weird because I have always been typed as an N. I was going to use it with my team at work and decided not to because it doesn’t seem accurate enough.

    – Not sure if you are looking at your competitors much. Khans Academy has a brilliant way to engage with a student that has signed up. Through their emails if you haven’t come back they ask if you can solve a problem. I know they have been around much longer but they have learned how to ‘hook’ the student into getting back on their site. Quistic doesn’t seem to be using the Myers Briggs USP to its full potential.

    -Why doesn’t Quistic have MORE courses yet? There only seems to be a handful. Not much depth there. I’d much rather spend my time on Skillshare or Udacity working out what I want to do next. It’s fun to explore all the potential courses available. Im on Quistic for a few minutes and bounce off immediately as there is nothing new on it.

  32. Alice Bachini says:

    Since the biggest pressure with homeschooling for most people seems to be the nuclear family, I’m thinking homeschoolers can remember that non-school education doesn’t have to be all about home/ the parents.

    The happiest homeschooling kids I have ever met work jobs. You can legally work a job at any age if you follow the rules about hours etc. It’s not necessarily easy to find, but it can happen. Networking helps, you can intern first and take it from there.

    Then- you must have seen this already- this guy is against institutional schooling and his kids went away and stayed with different people to learn various different skills and also got to travel. I don’t think we have to want billionaire status to learn a lot from the article.
    http://www.businessinsider.com/how-to-raise-your-kids-to-be-billionaires-2014-6

    Just my 2 cents :)

  33. Erin says:

    Penelope. ((deep breath)) This blog post took my breath away. I had to stop reading about 2/3 way through to catch my breath and really feel your words.

    I am tempted to email you instead of post on your blog because I have this embarrassing need to know that you are reading my comment. I feel this desire because I’m becoming really fond of you. You open me up.

    Before I was a mom, I was really insecure about my body. All the time. Then I was pregnant, gave birth and a newborn relied on me for breastfeeding all the time. Losing my body to my child really helped me let go of my baggage about my nudity. I walk around naked in my house a lot now, after showers or just while getting dressed. It’s not really a big deal anymore. I guess, now my body has this really awesome purpose. I wouldn’t say it’s redeemed…just matured & humbled. My body makes sense now. While I didn’t know my place before, now I find all this hidden purpose in my being.

    ((I’m not satisfied with that paragraph. It’s too long. But I’m afraid to edit it because if I start I’ll probably delete 9/10 of it, and what if I just need to let it stand there, naked, unedited??))

    The reason I started this comment was to tell you I’m a good liar. You challenged us: “Find something no one knows about you. Or only a few people know. That’s the thing that you can’t stand admitting because then you can’t be high and mighty about it.” For me it’s lying. I’ve never found a good way to talk about it, because the lying is a defense mechanism. And I won’t talk about it on my blog (yet) or on my twitter or instagram, where I expect people to read my words. But I’ll admit it here, 57 comments down, in a rambling awkward comment, where nobody will probably even read it.

    But I hope you read it, Penelope. Because you tell the truth. And that’s what I love about you.

  34. Katybeth Jensen says:

    My son graduated from the Chicago Waldorf School on Sunday. He never attended another school. If we could not have afforded the education (with many sacrifices) I would have homeschooled. I gave him the option of home schooling in HS because he had so many passions he wanted to develop. He choose Waldorf. Not a perfect education, lots of flaws, a constant work in progress. At times we loathed it but at Sunday’s graduation surrounded by a community we loved and loved us–we both knew we had made the right choice for us. The same community can be found outside of us school but for us it was school. I think the important thing, in everything, is to make a conscious choice and take responsibility for it but I know I am preaching to the choir. :-D

  35. Katybeth Jensen says:

    P.S. He is homeschooling for College.

  36. Bethany says:

    P ~ I have 6 kids (that right there makes me illogical to the world) and I have home schooled those same 6 kids. I have loved being a parent and I have despised being a parent. It is the great joy of my life. And it is the great heart break of my life. It exposes my most heinous character flaws and it gives me opportunity to be more loving and selfless than I ever thought I could be. Yada yada yada. It’s true for us all.

    Home schooling is extremely difficult; but let’s be real (rather than keeping a secret bc we don’t want people to know that) we condem homeschooling because it betrays the fact that we have bought into the world’s bullshit that kids are a big, giant Pain-In-The-Ass. Preachy Alert- it makes mothers feel like poo to admit that they just don’t want to be around their kids all the live-long day. They’re tiring. They’re whiney. They’re selfish. They’re thankless.

    School IS babysitting. It was invented for parents to go to work. This is just fact. It’s not right or wrong. It’s not an opinion. It just is.

    Home schooling is best for our kids, in my arrogant opinion, for one reason only: no body on this earth cares about your kid like you do. No body can nurture them and their talents and gifts, and failings like you. My personal, preachy opinion, for which I do not apologize is, they deserve it. Some days I hate it, but it doesn’t change it’s truth. In fact, I do not like home schooling. I don’t do it because I love it so much and gee I’m just one of those amazing moms who bakes gluten fee chocolate chip cookies every day. Its more like, they didn’t ask to be born. It’s my job to raise them. I love them. I take a discerning look at the world and decide what is best–not just let the world tell me what’s right.

    When your kid reads a word for the first time and YOU taught them how to do that, well, you’ll hear the hallelujah chorus.

    And you will feel like the Bad Ass parent that you are.

    PS the old folks home is sounding pretty decent.

  37. Maite says:

    Well… tell your husband that we love to read about your sexual life… I mean, it’s fun! LOL

    I love your post, you’re an amazing woman y I hope you continue sharing a little bit of your life with us!

    Thanks for the advices!

  38. Maria says:

    Wait a minute…

    Who says your child can’t go to college after being home schooled?

    Mine started the Virtual university at age 12 and took about 4 classes in it. It was under $50. No credit.

    Then she signed up with Indiana University through their correspondence courses, tested at McGill University with a proctor. She took college level French 1 & 2, and had 6 credit hours by the time she was 18. Those classes cost me $500 per class. After many, many meltdowns (LOVE PMS) she passed each with a B.

    She tested for her GED and got all A’s and 1 B.

    Then she took her AP classes (she could have just tested for it but chose to take the classes one summer and was embarrassed to sit next to 14 year olds). She passed those.

    She passed her EMS courses and certification.
    She passed her 911 Operator courses and certification.
    Then couldn’t find work so she worked as a porter at the hospital.
    She passed her Respiratory Therapy 2 year college courses and certification.

    She works full time, makes really good wages and is married, happy, has friends, hobbies, etc..

    And now she is taking the last 2 years of her bachelor of science degree through online university at age 25.

    She never went to high school having been home schooled.

    Your children can still go to college.

    Education is fluid and flexible. In Alberta they do emphasize certification over degree. Plumbers make more than some MBA’s. Real estate agents can make more than some lawyers.

    There is nothing wrong with taking on certifications to be able to work in a field that is in demand and then continue your education in the field of your passion.

    It’s important to be happy but also important to pay for your lifestyle.

    Enough preaching.
    ; )

  39. Jenna Higgins says:

    Penelope, You are my favorite blogger…and here is the affirmation you need – you are right! Kids are seriously, and ridiculously bored all day long at school. Their creativity and excitement is sucked out and they are trained to be prison inmates. The problem with home schooling? Money. Parents need free daycare – essentially…and we all keep telling ourselves that it is okay because we all went to school all day and think we turned out fine. It is a sad reality. Our kids deserve better…but until we can, as a society, find a way to financially benefit families choosing to raise/teach their kids at home – your conversation will fall to deaf ears. We can’t “afford” to hear it. We know it is true, the rational ones wish we had the money to make this a reality…but there are so many other things, braces, college funds, house payment, retirement, etc. that have to be managed. It is a juggling act – and the kids loose. We all just have to admit – we get what we pay for. Education for free isn’t working.

    • YMKAS says:

      I think there is a lot of genuine sympathy for those who truly want to homeschool their kids yet can’t afford it, I truly feel fortunate to be able to homeschool my children, they are privileged. I personally know some fantastically poor, yet educated, families that homeschool because they see the value in what they are doing, there isn’t a “price” they wouldn’t pay. Granted, all our methods of homeschooling will look drastically different regardless of income, I still haven’t met anyone who does things exactly like I do.

      I think the greater point, is that the people that *can* afford to homeschool….aren’t. They absolutely know the benefits of self-directed learning, some of them are silicon valley execs… they read this blog, they know the information that is out there, and it is mind numbing that they choose to ignore what is best for their own children, which is being with their parents, pursuing their passions, and self-directed learning. These are not people without options…. I think that is the greater point here. Instead, they can take the $45k annual tuition and hire private tutors for their kids to be at home. That would be a great start. Then later down the road look at developing grants for families that want to homeschool their children or something like that.

      • karelys says:

        YMKAS,

        I do love what you said about the people who can’t afford to homeschool aren’t. They find a way to do it. It’s always about how you figure it out.

        PS. Do you have an email address I can contact you through? I am curious about how you guys do the unschooling thing.

  40. Thi says:

    Homeschooling is a leap of faith. Most people know there is a problem with school. But they feel safer staying in school, following the system.

    I think what you’re feeling is the uncertainty, the sleepless nights, the anxiety before reaching success. I understand what you’re feeling. It physically feels like a knot in your chest.

    I’m not going to tell you to “trust” or to “take comfort in the discomfort” because that’s useless.

    We already know school is bad. We don’t yet know if homeschooling is or not. At worst, homeschooling is bad. And if it is, a different kind of wrong isn’t all that bad. And if it’s good, which it probably is, then you only have the potential for wild success.

    Also another example of why school is bad-that link for fidget toys has a “silent classroom” fidget toy. Kids are so disengaged that they have to use them to stay quiet.

  41. Maria says:

    I think the financial issue of homeschooling is a valid point rarely mentioned.

    I was a single mom when I home schooled my child. I gave up my car and used public transportation when necessary. By giving up my car in Montreal I saved a lot of money. No insurance to pay, no rising gas prices, no car payments, no parking issue.

    I also lived in a rent controlled apartment paying $350 then $400 per month. We shopped at thrift stores, my christmas tree cost $1 at a church bazaar. Books were $1/bag. (We waited until the last day of the bazaar).

    We lived on the second floor and had to pay for electric heat. I found out after my first year that my upstairs neighbor didn’t have to turn on his heat because my apartment was heating his. The next year, we wore winter coats indoor and waited him out. I won! Every year after that (I lived in the same apartment for almost 5 years) we almost never had to turn our heat on, counting on our upstairs and downstairs neighbors to do the trick. You save money where ever you could.

    I bought discount food, day old bread, would memorize food prices so when I arrived at the cash register and they got it wrong, I would get it free. I treated it like a game. Free milk, free cheese, free eggs, loved it when they would scan wrong (a Quebec law).

    My income? Child support, child tax credits, freelancing (doing business and marketing plans for small businesses and web design). I did take a job when money ran low (she was a teenager by then) and when I was laid off, I received unemployment for 6 months and participated in a program that extended it for another year while I worked on launching my own business.

    We were poor. We lived below poverty level. We made our sacrifices. There were scary moments and then I found ways to hang in there and make it work. I got a job to make the finances work but businesses were going under and I was back home. This was between 2001 and 2005. Also my ex stopped paying his child support for 6 months after being successful with a con game he played. Things happen, you do the best you could. Some of his child support was paying for her college tuition, so we had to limit it to 2 courses.

    When she was 6 months shy of 18 and told me she wanted to move across the country for job opportunities, I did my research, it made good financial sense, I sold all my appliances and furniture, bought a used motorhome and we hit the road never looking back.

    There was no way I would let her go alone. I knew how hard it is, I wanted her to succeed. It was hard. Very hard. But you keep trying and keep at it.

    Keep in mind, once she turned 18, everything stopped, child support, child tax benefits, child tax credits. But she still lived with me and I still supported her until she was on her own by choice at 19.

    I am second generation from an immigrant family. You move to where the jobs are, especially during a recession.

    When I was in Quebec, my last job payed between $8 – $12 per hour.

    When we arrived in Alberta, my first job came with a free apartment, utilities and a small salary. Her first job paid $18/hr. Of course, the cost of living is higher, but 100% of zero = zero. So you still have to have income coming in.

    My fear of homelessness was the reason I kept my motorhome, whether I needed it or not.

    I hope it helps.

  42. Jeremy Norton says:

    Hello Penelope,

    Beautiful blog you have here! Thanks for the mirror indeed. I just love reading your blog. It’s very refreshing and inspiring at the same time. More power to your blog!

  43. Mark W. says:

    Preachy, arrogant, and unbearable. Yes, aren’t we all to varying degrees depending on the subject and the circumstances? I think the key is to know it – preferably while we’re in that mode. If not, then recognize it shortly after the fact by the words/actions of someone else or by reflection. We all get to know ourselves better with experience. One positive thing about getting older.

  44. Katie says:

    With 74 comments ahead of me, I’ll keep this brief: The most powerful statement of the article, “Secrets are the spots in our lives where we are most devoted to being preachy.”

    Thank you.
    Katie

  45. Ana says:

    Or you might be wrong about homeschooling being the answer to all your questions, Penelope, and that is okay, too. Not going to college nowadays is like not having a nobility title in the Middle Ages. They were good for nothing, those titles, but they made life so much easier for those who had them! Not going to school will make life harder for kids, even if they discover their amazing passions or whatever, since they do not have the nobility title of the era to be taken seriously.

  46. aspie says:

    Not sure what the point of the article is, but here’s my honest opinion:
    1. Having a world-wide reachable blog about personal stuff = navelgazing and showing off. Doesn’t matter if it’s shiny or shit, same thing. Of course, this can also be used for personal development or just failed attempts at stress release, but trying to justify it seems a fool’s errand. It is what it is, and will be different things for different people.
    2. Getting stressed out for not being right = ego. If it happens to you, it can explain what happens when it happens to others (more subtle). Thus realizing this can actually gain you more empathy! Plus, if you can admit when you’re wrong when you’re wrong, you’ve actually learned something!! If not, you’re just acting stubborn and stupid, thus missing out on important lessons from mistakes (yours or others’).
    3. Social skills are not about rules. It’s enough to be yourself, natural. Aspies just need more time to learn clues and constantly need to learn “new tricks”. Why not relax and find ways to enjoy life, even when among “them” ;)
    4. Gay sex toys in nursing home = shocking. Being provocative can be another way to try to steal attention. Why should I genuinely care for gay nursing home sex toys? Actually, I like to learn and share about life with others, and that sometimes means learning about consequences of food and life habits. I got a laugh out of it though, and yes, you are probably right too!! ;)
    5. Homeschooling = I really wish there was a way for me to assure you an aspie should homeschool his children. However, let me rephrase the question: Why do you want to take away development of normal human interaction from your children, thus projecting your own social awkwardness unto them? Referring to it as “homeschooling hell”, I really question wether you would be better off prioritizing entepreneurship and other parts of your life, over some foolish pride over being “right or not right”. What do you genuinely think you can accomplish? Will your children in age refer to homeschooling as “homeschooling hell” as well, following your lead?

    If you read each and every sentence of this post, you should notice there is not one iota of preaching here. Just observations and personal opinions. Whatever preaching someone might see, I will say it is most probably a way to control the conversation, rather than an honest discussion involving more than one opinion. Opinions differ wether one is aspie or not. Being aspie is not a license to be rude or controlling conversations, or children.

    My path has been yoga (not gym class, but a real tradition).

    I respect your honesty very much.

  47. Tonja says:

    I love the career advice on this blog, but it is appalling to read the posts on homeschooling. I think you choose the best education option for your and your family. It irks me that there are broad generalizations about traditional school “babysitting” and homeschool is the answer. What may be true for some, may not be true for all.

    How is a homeschooling environment going to work for a low-income family with illiterate parents? How does school help the child with an active imagination and above grade level?

    We should strive for what is “right” for us and tell our story, but not demean others if they choose a different path.

    School was the right choice for me and I had excellent babysitters! Oh by the way, I am a recruiter for a high performing urban school and I don’t think I have ever hired a babysitter. In fact, they probably would consider homeschooling parents the best babysitters. They are your kids after all!

    To babysitting!

  48. Virginia says:

    I am suprised by how many people agree with you that homeschooling is best for kids. I feel confident that homeschooling is not an good option for me. If I was around my kid all day, it would start to feel like a chore instead of a pleasure.

    What is the goal of homeschooling? To make your kid happy? Make them the best at something? Prepare them for life?

    Some kids are happy at school (one of yours was Penelope). I don’t feel the need to be the best at something. I’m happy with “good”. And if most people go to school, removing them from that environment doesn’t seem like a good way to learn how to deal with it. It feels like you are teaching them how to avoid the challenges in life rather than face them. At a minimum, your child is going to have a different childhood experience from 95% of kids in America. As a kid, I didn’t like feeling different, I liked fitting in. A part of me still does. Being a part of a community is a natural desire. I feel like some of your depression is because you are trying to so hard to be different and you are completely sacrificing your life for your kids. They may be happier if your happier.

    • Marcy says:

      Virginia I just have to reply to your comment…

      You said a lot of things that rubbed me the wrong way and I am sure other homeschoolers took offense to what you had to say. It is fine, I get that you have your opinion and everything like that, but maybe basing your opinion on one version (sending children to schools) isn’t the best way to come at homeschooling with such a negative tone. Unless you have homeschooled, you really don’t know what you are talking about.

      I have had my child in a school system and I have also worked as an educator for over 10 years before moving onto schooling my own children, at home.

      You said that being around you children would feel like a chore. I am sorry that you feel that way. Children are given to us to make us better people, to make us put others needs before our own. I think people have found a way to conveniently forget about that aspect. I am sure your children are amazing, smart, funny, interesting people – but you would look at the time that you have with them – time you could never get back – as a chore? That is unfortunate.

      Your questions about homeschooling – what is the point – to make your kid happy -make them the ‘best’ at something – prepare them for life?

      The point is (for me) to have the time with my children that I can never get back. I want to learn from them and them from me and us together from life. I don’t want someone else ( but me and my husband and our friends and family) watching my children learn and grow – do those teachers even know how important my child is to this world? Do they REALLY love them and want the best for them? I want to give to my child the type of setting that is tailored for the way THEY learn – not the way other kids in a group learn. I want my child to feel both challenge and accomplishment in a place where she is comfortable. I want my child to (and most importantly) feel the emotions of learning – the good and the bad – to help her grow into who she is supposed to be.

      Yes. We want to make our children happy. There will be times of struggle and negativity, sure. But yes – we want to make our children happy. Why is that a bad thing?

      Make them the best at something? Um… I want my child to be the best at whatever she wants to be and being the ‘best’ is not measured by society – it is measured by her. And no one else. It is how healthy self-esteem is created. Homeschooling is generally (for the people who truly understand what it is about) NOT a competition. We do not value our children as better than others… We are created and develop equally and differently.

      Prepare them for life – yes. By experiencing things when their brains are growing. Real experiences – like volunteering to make the community a better place to live. By living what they are learning – planting a real garden in which they will eat the harvest – spending time in small businesses to see how they are ran. Homeschool children live a real life and are not put away in a school for 8 hours behind a desk without much creative input. We prepare children for life by having them live it and learn from it.

      Again, you are back at the ‘best’ issue. You are caught in this idea that some people are the best, some are good and some are not… That is a wicked game to be tied into. We are who we are. It is not a competition.

      Homeschooling is anything BUT avoiding challenges! Anyone who homeschools or is homeschooled knows that. Just your little typed up opinion of what homeschool is IS a challenge – because you are closed-minded about what it is… we are always put in the position to have to prove what we do to people like you. Because people like you in society have such a small perception of the huge thing that homeschooling is – that in itself is a challenge.

      “At a minimum, your child is going to have a different childhood experience from 95% of kids in America.” Is that an opinion or can you please send me the link that shows that this was a true study? I will tell you right now – it is either a very sad opinion or completely wrong finding… how do I know? Because already my children’s experiences have kicked the ass of the ones I had as a child and I had a pretty great childhood.

      The homeschooling community is a community. It is just different than your idea of a community. We keep our kids with us and have them live their lives without the competition of schools and everything that comes with it. We work together to help one another be who we want to be. We help out when others need help. We support one another. We are a strong community. Is Penelope giving of herself for her kids? Damn right. Is it easy? Hell no. But the greater good is bigger than a few moments of weakness and frustration.

    • mh says:

      Homeschooling gives my kids decided advantages over their compulsory schooled peers.

      I want what’s best for my kids, even at the cost of inconvenience to me as a parent.

  49. LarryB says:

    I’ll stay from the asparagus talk and let you my wife and I home schooled our kids here in San Jose, Ca. through the 8th grade. They have a great program. The schools get their money and they in turn file all the paperwork with the state so you dont have to. They also test the kids and tutor for free.
    My oldest son, now 25, was the first student to go from 1 thru 8th grade and graduate and my second son was the third. By the time they got out of the 8th grade we knew we would not be able to keep up so we sent them to the local high school where they did very well with honors.

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