I have discovered what I believe to be the biggest drawback to homeschooling. No, it's not socialization. My kids get to meet, talk to and interact with a lot of people of all ages. No, the problem is too much together time. You know how your kids start to bicker and gripe at each other after a few days of being couped up in the house. After about four days inside with your brothers and sisters, even the kindest children turn into monster children.
They grow three heads, five horns and their eyes turn red. Fire spits out of their mouths. Their heads spin around backwards. Smoke comes out of their ears. Their voices become like fingernails grating down the proverbial chalkboard. They become little monsters just waiting to pounce on the first poor, unsuspecting sibling to breath in their general direction.
Take that image, multiply it by 365 days, 24 hours a day. Increase it by 5 children. Now you have the image of a large homeschool family in the dead of winter. It's not pretty. It's downright ugly.
Yet, despite that, they seem to be inseparable. They are fiercely devoted to one another. When apart for only an hour they run to each other and hug each other. A few years ago the two oldest were going to an overnight at church. The two youngest were going to grandma's house (number five was but an infant and staying with Mom). They were spending less than 24 hours apart, yet you would have thought they were going to be apart for weeks by the way they were hugging each other and saying their good-byes. When the next year came around, the two oldest were again off to church, only to discover that this year instead of sleeping in the separate rooms in the same building, they would be in different buildings! They were visibly upset. "We've never slept in a different building before!" True. At 7 and 8 years old they had not been apart overnight since the second was born. They weren't consoled that Mommy would be staying with the girls and Daddy would be staying with the boys!
The most touching time came when our five year old (then four) ended up in the hospital with pneumonia. The kids were made several visits during the day, going back and forth to grandmas between visits. When bedtime came, they all were upset. Noah, at the hospital, wanted to call and talk to each sibling and during prayer that night prayed for each one. The kids with Daddy at Grandma's house where crying because they missed their brother. It was a time that really showed me how deeply they care for one another. They take for granted that their brothers and sisters will always be near them. I pray that this continues into their adult lives and that they continue to develop a bond that allows them to forever be the closest of friends.