Monday, 2 November 2009

Now I have Munchhausen's Syndrome by Proxy

Seriously, anyone would think we decided to home educate these triplets like we choose pizza for lunch. Shall we have mushroom? Or just cheese and tomato?

I don't know about you, but we went through agony of thinking about the education of our kids, because like you with yours, we love ours. Like you, we didn't take our decisions lightly.

And I don't know whether when you made your decision, you were able to sit back and think, That's settled for the next few years. We don't have to think about that again until 2012.

If you did, that must be cool. I would like that feeling. And I envy you that.

Round here, the agony of debate continues everyday. Because everyday I wonder if we make the right choice and do the right thing; whether this worry I have about Tiger's maths, or Squirrel's reading, or the general reluctance of these kids to write, whether these worries are justified; what I should do about them; how I can best approach life so that everyone's encouraged in their various ways.

And then there's all that laundry to be done, so get up early and go to bed late to fit that in your educating day, Grit.

Doubts, fears, worries, laundry. These are my everyday. And to a large extent, I live with them because I have various convictions. Not religious ones, although sometimes I think this would be easier if I believed in that god; my beliefs are about people and education. And I am prepared to see through my convictions in practical ways by taking on that individual responsibility towards my own kids.

Having done that, and lifted that enormous weight on my back and shoulders and head and heart, I would like one part of my day to be able to heave a big sigh of relief.

I would like a part of my day to feel safe and free from worry, to know that I am supported, and trusted, and respected for my choices.

I would like to think that you, seeing my kids everyday, would know that my choices and responsibilities have some substance; you can see that Tiger, Shark, and Squirrel are happy kids who engage in activities, events, who enjoy life, learn new things, and look forward to everything this world has to offer. They appreciate their home education, and they're learning all the time about the expectations we have, and which I share with you. I want my kids to be responsible; to be resourceful; to be respectful. Those are our 3Rs. Through these, I want them to grow wise, learn independently, and learn how to learn all the time, so they have that to guide them throughout their lives.

But I rarely have that room to breathe. I rarely feel that I am supported, and trusted, and respected for the choice I've made.

When I read this today, I confess to sitting down and bawling out my eyes and howling from the top to the bottom of this house.

Memorandum submitted by Dr Paula Rothermel FRSA, Educational psychologist expert witness

1. I am one of the leading academics in the field in the UK and the only expert witness specialising in court cases where home education is an issue. My 2002 research involved 1099 children and remains the largest and most in-depth and authoritative independent of home education carried out in the UK. The research involved 419 survey questionnaires to families and 238 targeted assessments (with 196 different children) to evaluate the psychosocial and academic development of home-educated children aged eleven years and under.

2. I was invited on two occasions to meet with Mr Badman.

3. At our first interview Mr Badman was interested in what I had to say. His opening question was to ask me if home educating mothers suffered from Munchhausen's by Proxy. ...

4. At our second interview Mr Badman was dismissive of my work. He insisted that my study covered just 30 children. He indicated that someone had told him this and insisted that my conclusions and findings, therefore, were of little significance. Nothing I could say would sway him from this view.
This government should know that I have judgment, I have sense, I have a heart that can break a thousand times over and I will have strength in me to mend it again and again and again.

But I cannot for the life of me understand what motivates this attack of me and mine; what drives this cruel campaign; what informs this frame of reference used to judge me and my choice.

Today it's just another day of standing up and finding the strength to take this on, this hurtful and cruel way of describing me and how I live. I will do that, and I will fight for the choices I make and to keep the way that we live. They are my convictions, my family, our way of life, and no person will shake them.

But sometimes people, you will have to forgive me, or join me, when I climb to the top of this house and scream with all my lungs that you, you destroyer of choice, you corruption to my family, my life, my kids, you attacker of me, of mine, of us,



Elizabeth (My Reading World) said...

Oh Grit--I would so love to join you and shout from the top of any house--though I think I'm pissed off enough to be heard shouting from the lowest valley in the land!!

Theresa said...


Lisa G said...

It was totally disgusting, I despair that Mr Badman finds it so easy to dismiss us all as mentally ill and by all, of course I mean all us home educating mothers....mysogynistic much?

Sharon McDaid said...

Too true and very well said. The man is displaying his bigotry more openly here.

mamacrow said...

this is how I felt too. and I would join you on top of the roof but health and saftey would probably jail me or something. 'heavily pregnant woman daring to move a foot of the ground! get her!'

sam said...

I did munch all the children's halloween choc..was that an act of proxy?

Danae said...


Something else. If Badman was asking Paula Rothermel about our mental stability that early, doesn't it rather prove that he was prejudiced against us?

kelly said...

I think he's the one needing a mental evaluation.

Potty Mummy said...

I'm amazed that this man is being taken seriously. What an idiot. I wish I had something more helpful to say but I have no way of expressing how depressed it makes me feel that the government is listening to him.

sharon said...

Seems to me that this government sets up committees, reviews etc with no intention of paying even lip service to views that do not accord with their original premise. Note the activities arising from the Drug Review too. Huge sums of money are spent on these things with little or no discernible variation in the government's original actions or decisions.

Despair doesn't even come close does it?!

Unknown said...

I can identify with your anger, but as someone who is trying desparately to find the silver linings to all the Balls shaped clouds, I have to say I love your version of the 3 Rs. I'm going to add it to our ed phil :)

Jax Blunt said...

Can't do the climbing for the same reasons as Mamacrow, but joining with you in the shouting. Just where do they get off?

Maire said...

Yes your three Rs are pretty much my three Rs, so much more important than the other sort which are bound to be a by product.

I am rather speechless blog wise about this, whitewash seems less appropriate when this is obviously a witch hunt.

Grit said...

hello people, and thank you for your comments. this is a constant attack on home ed, and there seems to be no end to it. they are really sinking to some depths. and the more they demand compliance, the less they are likely to get it.

Merry said...

Here i go again. Hear Hear.

I did pretty much the same - this particular little gem clutched my heart and wrung out the fear and horror of what might be going to come next. I cried too.

jen106 said...

I have a gorgeous 7 month old daughter, and plan another child within two years. I see the crap that goes on in public schools, and wonder how I could afford 12 years of private school...Education these days is a joke. When I was young I thought people who homeschooled were religious freaks, now I know better, and wonder if I can do what's best for my child and homeschool...

Grit said...

hi merry; it did affect me; it was so casually cruel, and betrayed what an enormous gulf there is. bah. we're only stronger by it.

hi jen! i would say that the first years of education outside of school simply feel like an extension of normal involved parenting - lots of play, exploration, talk, freedom, mess, time together.

and as for the arguments and conflicts with little kids - i will add those to the educational mix too, because you get to be a real part of the aftermath of resolutions, negotiation and peace making, and can build those on your family terms, which has got to be a strong step in relationship building with your kids, no?