Smell that? It’s spring. Being a former landscape architect and Indiana native, I love this time of year. The snow piles are melting, the air is fresh, and the grass is greening up. In fact, those first spring crocuses have pushed their heads through the sod and are in all their glorious spring splendor, announcing winter has passed, spring is here, and summer is right around the corner. Because we homeschool, those little crocuses also serve as a reminder that we are entering homeschool convention season. You folks in The Woodlands have a good one . . . or, as they say here in Indiana, a “good ’un.”
Now, I know that for the womenfolk who are reading this article, even the mere mention of homeschool conventions sends chills down their spines. To a homeschooling mom, it’s like the circus coming to town and Disney World all wrapped into one. However, to the husbands of those homeschooling moms, the words “home school convention” conjure up the same good feelings of having your bowels cleansed or having the skin removed from your tongue.
Don’t get me wrong. I know there are some dads who are reading this who look forward to the time each year to get away and stroll up and down the aisles of wall-to-wall people, stand in long lines to pay a lot of money for a pretzel that costs as much as their first car and listen to some curriculum salesman drone on about the virtues of . . . whoa, I’m getting a little squeamish just writing about it.
Here’s the deal, my fellow homeschooling dad: your wife needs and wants you at her side during the whole painful ordeal. Believe me, I know. My family and I travel all over the country speaking at state homeschool conventions. Most of the attendees are women, and I see it in their eyes and hear it in their conversations. In fact, I wonder if they don’t envy those women who have their husbands by their sides. These men prove by their presence that they are committed to home schooling and to what is important to their homeschooling wives.
So, Dad, let me shoot straight with you. You need to make it a priority to attend The Woodlands Convention this year. I don’t mean a brief swing by the convention on your lunch hour or maybe a few hours on Saturday. I am talking about taking a day or two off from work, finding someone to watch the kids, and opening and closing the joint, all the time glued to your wife. I can hear the air being sucked from your lungs and see you squirming in your seat. Take heart; I’m not asking you to go unprepared. I am going to talk you through the finer points of making it a great experience for you and your wife.
The Family Man’s Guide to a Successful Homeschool Convention … for Dads
- Leave the kids behind. I know it’s not easy to find someone to watch the kids for a couple of days and nights, but I am telling you there is nothing that breathes life into a marriage or home school like a couple of uninterrupted days of hand-holding closeness without the kids. I know you love your kids and that they may want to attend, but tell them that this year it’s just for Mom and Dad. Get on Priceline.com for a good deal on a nearby hotel (or even better, reserve a room right on site), and then plan to take your wife to one of her favorite restaurants for dinner.
- Once you get your hotel reservations, throw away all your expectations for a romantic get-away. Instead, think “home schooling” because that is what your wife will be thinking. So when you get back to the hotel room, stretch out on the bed and say, “So, what did you enjoy most today, Honey?” By using self-control, you will show your wife just how much you love her and your commitment to your family and home school.
- Determine in your heart to stick to your wife like you used to. Resist the temptation to stand and shoot the breeze with Joe, whom you haven’t seen in a week, and walk the aisles with your wife.
- Do not rush your wife. Allow her to take as much time as she needs to examine every item in each booth. I know I am asking a lot of you, but you can do it. Also, take it to the end. Instead of asking, “Are we finished now?” assume she will not be finished until the closing bell rings. I repeat, do not be in a hurry.
- Listen to your wife’s questions, and then give thoughtful answers. When your wife asks what you think of a Latin curriculum, don’t just say, “Sure, Honey, whatever you think.” Instead, listen to the features, think it through and give her a thoughtful answer. When you sit down at lunch or dinner, don’t expect her to be focused on you, but listen as she talks about all that she saw and learned during the day. Smile, hold her hand, and ask questions.
- Be extravagant in your spending. Take it from this cheapskate that when you allow your wife to buy what she thinks is necessary, you prove to her that she’s worth your hard-earned money, that you are committed to home schooling, and that you want her to have the best tools to make her job easier.
- Do not fall asleep during the speaking sessions. Pinch yourself periodically if you have to. Better yet, give a friend permission to smack you in the back of the head if he sees you dozing.
- Encourage your other homeschooling dad friend that you see in the convention hall. When you pass him, draw close and say, “You da dad . . . keep up the good work . . . hang in there . . . you make me proud . . . don’t make me smack you in the back of the head!”
- Last, when your wife asks you what you thought about the wall-to-wall people, the long lines for a mortgage-payment-sized pretzel and all the curriculum salesmen, say, “I wouldn’t have missed it for the world.”
My fellow dad, there is not a homeschooling mom in the world who would not kill for a man like that.
You can do it.
You da dad!