Consistency, Hobgoblins, Flashcards, Steak


Our family was vegetarian for many years, from shortly before the time Eggmaster and I got married. Our wedding reception was vegetarian. I was vegetarian throughout my first pregnancy, and Violet was a vegetarian child for about 6 years.

As Victoria is proud to tell anyone in earshot, she was one primary cause of us dropping the label and picking up the chicken leg. And eventually the burger and the bacon. (Though we’ve dropped the burgers again, unless we grind the beef at home.)

Violet barely remembers being vegetarian, but she has decided to be a vegetarian for Lent. I won’t comment on her success so far, but I find myself thinking and saying all the things I used to think were so ridiculous: “What will you eat instead?” “Where will you get your protein?” I give myself a pass because she is (almost) 12, and she needs calories, protein, and fat on a consistent basis to keep growing healthily — not just growing surlier and more tired. Six years, and it is as if I had never been a vegetarian myself.

Victoria loves meat with wild abandon, and she wears her “vegetarianism killer” status with a great deal of pride. Steak is her very favorite thing — in fact, I believe I have convinced her to forgo a big birthday party this spring in order to have a steak dinner with a couple of chosen friends instead. That is the power of steak.

I never expected to be serving my kids steak even five years ago. Five years ago, almost to the day, I was still getting used to the idea that we were about to embark on a homeschooling adventure — yet another possibility I had never considered. Still, “Relaxed” homeschooling fit my personality perfectly. A little reading today, a little math tomorrow, a lot of days at the park — it’s all good. Textbooks, rote memorization, gold stars? Ha! No way. We were free and easy. School stuff was losers who couldn’t relax unless they reproduced school at home — suckers!

Sigh . . .

I am learning what all parents should learn, which is that feeling confident is a sure sign of blissful ignorance. My little Victoria has “memory issues” and simply cannot call up small facts. She can tell you everything that has ever happened in our family, so long as it can be a rambling narrative, she remembers everything she reads in great detail, and if you are looking for something she is the person to ask, but note names and math facts disappear out of her head with (genuinely) alarming speed. Before we address this professionally, we are trying a more traditional approach.

The Dreaded Flashcards.

They worked so well for note reading that I had to give them a try for math. We have a chart. We set goals. We give prizes for the goals. This gives me tiny fits every day. This is not who I am.

But of course it is. I’m whoever shows up that day, and hopefully that person is reasonably useful. I provide cottage cheese for the preteen vegetarian (with a side of bacon) and make steak after the unschooly 7yo hits her math goals three times. I cannot make all that cohere any better than the lentil-walnut patties I used to make ten years ago. It’s tempting to read that as hypocritical and weak-willed, but I’m going to try to stick with flexible and creative.


Filed under Learning Styles, Why Homeschool?

5 responses to “Consistency, Hobgoblins, Flashcards, Steak

  1. lapazfarm

    Oh, geez I can so relate.
    I thought I had all the answers with my relaxed homeschooling, bordering on unschooling groove. And then came JBug, who apparently requires consistency, flashcards, repetition, and all those other things I was loathe to admit into my neat, time-tested philosophy. Ugh. I still can’t say I’m a fan, but I have learned to appreciate (grudgingly) the efficacy. Dang it.
    Just when we think we’ve got it all figured out, God throws us a curve ball to keep us on our toes.

  2. Yep, relaxed and creative.

    I think the big thing about our approach is that we pay attention to the particularities of the kids we have. We know there are all kinds of different ways of approaching learning, eating, etc. and we draw on that information to help us respond to the particular needs of this kid, the one right in front of us.

    There is no “one right way”. And sometimes we have to try a few things before we figure out what works.

    You seem to be doing a great job. And 40 days of not enough protein isn’t going to do any serious damage to anyone 🙂

  3. Amy

    We were somewhat relaxed, got a little more structure, and have concluded that the next school year (not real sure when that’s going to be this year – still trying to decide how long a summer break should actually be. We’ve tried it different ways and haven’t decided which works best yet.) it’s going to have to be structure, structure, structure.

    My daughter also has memory issues. Which for her is just a part of the wonderful world of dyslexia. I’ve battled with guilt and not being to harsh only to discover now that I’ve made a terrible mistake. I am not doing her any favors by being lenient and now we both must pay for it.

    So, yet again I learn something new. The great thing about this life is that we wake up the next morning and get the chance to make up for the mistakes we made the day before! 🙂

  4. I think if you aren’t constantly changing the way you are parenting, you’re not paying attention. Kids are different, then when you’ve got them all figured out they change and grow. Just when you’ve got yourself and your style all figured out YOU change and grow. I agree with the previous poster who said you learn all about the different options and then keep them in your toolbox and bust them out when the time calls for it and put them away when they are no longer needed.

    Great post 🙂

  5. Definitely flexible and creative.

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