End of an Era

With the school year ending, it’s time for me to hang up one of my hats – for good. For the past year and a half, I have been homeschooling Nigel, and in September he will attend the high school for a full day, so I will no longer be his academic teacher. When he started back at the middle school in March, it was only part-time, so I continued to homeschool him for language arts and social science. He made some amazing progress in those areas, writing a total of five essays, including a comparative analysis of Ancient Greek and Roman cultures. His case manager at the middle school was so impressed that she took a copy of that essay to give to his future teachers at the high school. I’ll have to make sure they realize how much of an effort it was for him to complete that; it took him weeks to write it. They need to be aware of that before they expect him to produce more work – or at a faster pace – than he is capable of doing.

At any rate, come September my academic responsibility will be limited to helping him with assignments and encouraging his organizational skills. I will no longer be designing his curriculum, preparing lesson plans, or teaching the material. It was doable in middle school, even though it took me a while to get used to the idea, but I don’t think I could do it for high school. I mean, I consider myself to be fairly intelligent, but there’s a lot of high school knowledge that I would need to relearn in order to teach it to my son. It would take quite a bit of effort and time, and as a single parent of two, I’m in short supply of those items. I also had to radically reduce my work hours so that I could homeschool Nigel for the amount of time that I did; as a result, my bank account is in sorry shape. So continuing to homeschool is really not an option, and I’m glad that Nigel no longer needs it. We’re both looking forward to his return to full-time regular school, for many reasons.

But there’s something else that happens at the end of every school year, and has for the past eight years: Nigel and Aidan go visit their dad in Los Angeles for several weeks. LA is nearly 700 miles away from us; it’s a long drive. And another world away. They get a taste of big-city life, get to bodysurf on warm beaches, and Nigel gets to go to the day camp for autistic kids. These are all things they get to do that they can’t do at home in southern Oregon, and I am glad that they have the opportunity.  I’m also glad they get to spend time with their dad, whom they miss so much during the school year. But I miss them while they’re gone every summer. It’s just consuming, this missing. It’s not like when they’re gone for a week at Spring Break. One week is nothing. But seven, eight, is a daunting expanse that cannot be filled. Maybe I’m being melodramatic – I mean, after all, we go through this every year. But it never gets easier. I walk down the hall and see their empty rooms. I can’t watch a movie or eat ice cream without thinking of them and missing them. True, I’m keeping busy, especially since I’m back at work full-time, thanks to my wonderful employers. Life is full and good, but there’s this void with the boys gone. It doesn’t feel natural. I feel disjointed without them. And I’ve got a long summer ahead of me.

Since it’s impossible for me to go more than a month without seeing them, I’ll be visiting them next month, so that will break up the time, make it a little more bearable. For a while now, Nigel’s been requesting to go to the Grand Canyon, so three weeks from today, that’s what we’ll be doing. I can’t wait to share another adventure with them, but mostly I can’t wait to see them, hug them, to be in their presence. Of course, until then, I have phone calls to look forward to: “Hello, Mom. This is Nigel [insert last name] speaking.” Or perhaps a conversation like this one. Oh, well. I’m just happy to hear their voices.

So summer begins. And it just dawned on me that I’ve essentially combined two separate posts here – the end of homeschooling and missing my kids. Correlation? Nada. Let that be a testament to how disjointed I feel with my sons being away! I can’t even write!

18 thoughts on “End of an Era

  1. Tera

    You actually did make it correlate, Tanya! I know what you’re going through. I am sending Kaeden to see his grandparents this summer…in America…alone over the ocean. As much as I love the break, he loves the break, and they love his presence, it shreds my heart in two every day. 12 days and counting.

    I am in awe of you and your sacrifices in homeschooling Nigel. I don’t think there is any way I could teach Kaeden. He simply doesn’t listen to me, and it would be a fight every day. We have enuf of those without adding schoolwork to the mix. I’m *almost* glad there’s a law requiring kids to attend school here. Homeschooling isn’t an option, and for some in certain situations, such as Nigel last year, that may be bitter, but it simply is not an option. Parents can be fined, taken to court, etc if their kids miss more than 3 days per year, without a doctor’s written notice. The first year we lived in Belgium, we actually didn’t know those rules were so strict, and had issues with almost going to court over a day we kept Kaeden out. Just a difference in cultures…thought it might interest you and give you food for thought. What had you done IF homeschooling wasn’t an option?

  2. Pweshes Mama

    He wrote essays?!!! WOW!! That’s soo inspirational cause I still worry about the idea if ever Raiyan will be able to do that.. now I know it is possible!

    Aaaww, I feel for you being away from them for that long.. hopefully you will be able to use the time for quality mommy time? then maybe you can write something inspirational about that too? hehe cause sometimes I think all of us autism mommies need a break right..

    Oh and about the phone call, Raiyan still answers (even though he knows it’s me): “Hello my name is Raiyan? Who are you? Is your name mama?” haha

    Have a great summer holiday and hope you won’t slow down on the writing just because Nigel is away!

  3. Chapati

    They fit together fine! Must be hard being without the kids for so long, I hope you find something to keep you occupied – I know you normally manage to find the silver lining and will get up to something incredibly useful and wonderful 😀

  4. Carrie

    I see the correlation.

    The two worlds, school year and summer, are very disjointed – it would be much easier if one flowed naturally into the other, but they don’t.

    Sorry ’bout that.

  5. Michelle S

    you are super woman for doing the homeschooling. That amazes me. I know we all step up where it is needed but WOW. My heart breaks a little bit thinking of the boys being away from you for that long, but it’s wonderful that they are given that time with their dad!! You are giving them a gift. What an incredible mom you are!

  6. Paulene Angela

    That is a long time, but on the other hand I hear from lots of mums how they are just dreading the long summer haul and would love some back up and in your case who better than spending quality time with their father.

    Look after yourself and recharge your batteries, you deserve it.

  7. jess

    oh darlin, you can ALWAYS write … the void screams form the page .. my heart aches for you. but the time will pass, just as it always has.

    maybe a little mama time in there??


  8. rhemashope

    i think i’ve told you before that my sister has a similar arrangement with her daughter’s father. when her daughter is away, my sister says it’s like parting with a chunk of her soul. no matter how many summers (and weekends) go by, it never gets easier for her.

    i know you will miss them terribly, but i know you will make the most of the time.

  9. Meg

    I hope Nigel realizes what an inspiration he is to so many little boys and girls who are following his footsteps. Congratulations to him on doing so well!

    And I hope YOU realize what an inspiration you are to so many moms of little boys and girls who are following your footsteps! It seems that every day I’m exploring new paths and possibilities for the future, and your willingness to do whatever is necessary shows that it’s possible. Not easy, but possible.

    And I don’t think I’d be coherent if I had to send my kids that far away for that long, so for you to write a (beautifully constructed) post about it? Impressive, and heart-rending.

  10. Tanya Savko Post author

    Tera – That’s a good question about what I would have done if homeschooling hadn’t been an option. There are no contained classrooms in our district, so Nigel would have been bussed to a different city to be put in a contained classroom at a new school with people he didn’t know. I knew that would have been the wrong thing for him for many reasons, so that’s why I decided to try homeschooling. It was really tough, but it was definitely worth it.

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