This week the dishwasher and I are doing something a little bit different. We are doing a swap with another site: Shenk It Up!
I don’t remember who found whose site first, but as soon as I started reading Shenk It Up, I was hooked. Nate’s writing never fails to make me laugh and make me think, two things this harried mom loves to do.
Nate and I thought it would be fun if we “swapped” sites for this Sunday. I’m thrilled to introduce you to this really funny and smart writer. I’m also excited to get a chance to hang out at his great site for a post.
You can read my latest essay, The Sibling Zone, over at shenkitup.com But before you hop over there, please stay and read Nate’s great piece about his family and their unique American story.
As always, thank you so much for your support! It really means so much to me. I look forward to seeing you over at Shenk it up.
But now without further ado, I give you Nate Shenk:
The Abnormal American Family
When you think of the typical American family, do you picture a set of parents, two, or three kids and perhaps a dog named Max?
Some families may prefer to have a cat to a dog and a goldfish instead of a third child, which would still be considered as ‘normal’ in the eyes of the general public.
However, there are certain American families who defy all that is normal by having, not just a cat, dog and goldfish; but a whole herd of kids as well.
I’m not embarrassed to admit that my family does not fall into the categories of normal, or average; which is probably a good thing since I don’t exactly have much of a choice in the matter.
Growing up, my family consisted of one set of parents, 7 children, multiple cats and dogs, a fish or two and one large (very awkward) red van. My parents have never been able to give me a definite answer as to why they decided to have so many kids, but I’m sure glad that they did.
My father, after graduating from college, set off to sail around the world as a sailor and ended up spending a few months in the country of New Zealand. During those three months, he met my mum, fell in love, got married and sailed back to the U.S. Then, after a few years of being married, they began popping out the kids one by one.
So I guess my family is really only half American, which pushes us just a wee bit farther from normal, but I’m ok with that. Having 6 siblings and a non-American mum has given me the opportunity to think and see things outside of the box.
I happen to be the lucky middle child, with three siblings above and three siblings below; a spot I wouldn’t trade for anything.
It gave me the flexibility to be considered as either one of the big, or little kids––depending on the circumstances and which group was more desirable at the time. If there was a bunch of chores to be done; I was a little kid. If there was a movie only the big kids could watch; I was a big kid.
Not a difficult concept to grasp and it worked splendidly until the other kids caught on and decided to vote on whether or not I should be considered a big, or little kid. Unfortunately, I was voted off the island of the young and sent to the mainland of the old; where I spent the majority of my time being bossed around by my three older siblings.
Did I mention that the three siblings above me were all sisters? Yeah…just what every boy wants; three older sisters to bossed around by.
To make things even more abnormal for us, my parents decided to homeschool all of us from pre-school all the way to high school. Yes, my mother is most likely a saint but refuses to agree with that title.
I went to private school, with two other siblings, from my freshman year of high school to my junior year. When I got to my junior year, I bugged my parents about going to public school so much that they finally gave in. Jumping into public school with only two years of high school left is an experience unlike most and deserves an entire post all to itself.
Being American gives us many freedoms that we frequently take for granted, or simply fail to acknowledge altogether.
Naturally, not everyone is going approve of the fact that my parents homeschooled us and many seem surprised when they find out (after asking) that we aren’t members of some religion that encourages parents to pop out a bunch of kids.
We were a typical Christian family who just happened to have more than the average amount of children that were homeschooled. In many other countries, the freedom to choose how to educate your children is not up to you to decide and this is just one of the many benefits of being American.
During my junior year of college, I was fortunate enough to study abroad in Germany and, while I was there, began to realize just how lucky I was to be American. Not that Germany is a horrible country, or a bad place to live; it just isn’t the United States.
When I explained to my German classmates that I was homeschooled for a large portion of my childhood education, they were beyond shocked. Apparently, my parents would have been locked up (even to this day) if they had homeschooled us in Germany; it’s not only illegal, but looked down upon as well.
Out of my parent’s seven children, 5 have gone to college (the two youngest haven’t graduated high school just yet) and I’m sad to report that my college GPA of 3.5 was (so far) the lowest. Proof, at least in my eyes, that homeschooling isn’t such a bad thing after all and it’s a shame more people don’t see it that way.
I guess there are two things that you can take from this post; being American is awesome and that homeschooling isn’t so bad…just don’t do it in Germany (I don’t think they allow parents to teach in jail either).
Special thanks again to Nate Shenk! Don’t forget to check out the dishwasher at his great site shenkitup.com