As many of you know, this blog is preceded by Little RV on the Hillside which shares some of our experiences as a family living in a tiny RV for five and a half years. We had five and a half years of adventures along with some scary moments (like when we thought the RV might slide down the hill during an extraordinarily heavy rain storm).
One thing I don’t often talk about is how it effected me. When it comes to my personal life, I try to focus on the positive things in life and keep the negative to a minimum. It is not that I never share the negative, but as much as possible I try to counter each negative with a statement of a positive that is kind of a “nevertheless”.
For example, the three of us were living in a tiny RV with no bedroom. Nevertheless, we had a roof over our heads! I always tried to keep my eyes on how much we actually had rather than what we did not have. I was not always successful in that and, even when I was, it did not remove the effects of my living situation.
Being transparent here is not easy, but I think it can be healthy. And it can give others a chance to get a picture of some of what we were going through in our situation and what makes this house so special to us. So, here goes.
I am an introvert, which is not the same thing as being shy, although I can be shy, too. As an introvert, I need some solitude – some alone time – to regenerate. As much as I love being around other people, it is draining if I have to do it alot. I need solitude to recharge. In the RV, I had no real solitude. Dave worked crazy schedules and I was home educating our son. I oftentimes felt drained and like I was trying to just catch my breath. It did not help that the bugs here love me. So, even when the weather was nice, I had to stay inside most of the time. (Thankfully, our son did not have that problem and he was able to go run around outside.) I got eaten alive and the bites tended to get infected.
As a result, my life became rather sedentary, which was unhealthy. There was no room to work out in the RV and going outside was often not much of an option. I am sure it looked rather comical to see me running from RV to van and van to RV in the summer. I could go outside more in the winter if it wasn’t too cold.
I realize that some people will wonder why I didn’t put him in school. That would have given me some solitude when his school schedule overlapped Dave’s work schedule. It is a legitimate question and I don’t know how many will understand the answer. We truly believe that home educating our son was best for him. He was all antsy boy and a later reader. A typical school would most likely have labeled him ADD and we did not want that. Plus, by keeping him home, we were able to allow him to learn to read at his own pace.
There was also the issue of his heart. The state we lived in had programs in the school system that went against parents, but we had a lot of support for home educating him. There were a lot of former teachers we knew and even a reading specialist who assured us that his learning to read later was not an issue. We just needed to keep plugging along.
When we moved, we had no idea all that we were going to experience. I did not expect to be in a rural situation with so many limitations. I did not expect to stay in the RV for so long. We were able to get him to a co-op learning group a couple of years, but did not have the transportation or money to do it more often. Should we have put him on the yellow bus? Believe me, we thought about it many times. Each time, we came back to our reasons for teaching him at home.
We wanted to keep his heart close to ours and to raise him with our standards, not the standards of other people (teachers and a school system). We wanted him to learn about real history, not the selective and edited history that removed the true beliefs of the people who worked so hard to found our nation and give us The Declaration of Independence and the Constitution. We wanted him to learn real science…not pseudoscience…and to be able to distinguish between fact and assumptions and faith (whether that faith was biblical or atheistic). We wanted him to be able to think logically and be able to identify rhetoric. Admittedly, there are some “holes” in his education. But you know what? There would still be “holes” in the school system, especially where they really focus on teaching to the test, which is happening a lot in the schools.
We did not want him to be cooped up for hours on end inside a classroom. We wanted him to have the freedom to take advantage of the snow and climbing trees and building whatever his imagination fed. We wanted him to be able to live life and learn from life instead of just books. We wanted him to be able to explore his interests while he was actually interested in them instead of making him learn them according to a schedule when his natural interest may have been lost. We wanted him to be exposed to different people in different situations rather than always being stuck with those his own age.
We wanted him to be available to help others and to learn “non-classroom” things (like building a house and plumbing and making a deer stand). Yes, there are some good things he may have missed out on, but they were replaced by other things the classroom youth did not have. He got to visit some places during the hours they were not so crowded. He got to work alongside adults as well as other youth. He also got to miss out on the negative things…like drugs and promiscuity. Every single high school in our area has a big drug problem. In fact, our whole area has one. I like to think that we protected him from that.
So, is it good that we educated at home? No matter what choices we make as parents, there will always be times of wondering if we did the right/best thing. Looking back at it, I think we made the right choice, given his personality. Maybe I am wrong, but what is done is done. We believed we should teach him at home and I was willing to make the sacrifices necessary to do that. I paid a rather heavy price as an introvert with Post Traumatic Stress stuck in a tiny RV. Yes, I paid a price. But it was worth it. HE was worth it.
We have been in the house four years now and I am still struggling to recover from those year in the RV. But I am getting there. One step at a time. One day at a time. I am very grateful for this house. In it, I have an “office” in which to study. With our son graduating from high school, I hope to pursue some dreams of mine as G-d permits. I also plan to just rest for a bit. Take a breather. Catch my breath and try to relax.