February 06, 2009 09:28 PM by Lisa Stauber
ABC‘s Wife Swap features a the achieving Jones family from Colorado switching with the homeschooling Martinson family in California. The Jones have two daughters, the Martinsons have three sons… it’s boys against girls!
Heather Martinson is a fan of “Fun Schooling”, and loves hands on learning. She takes her boys to the amusement park to experience physics in action, and her husband Lee works from home as a writer. He thinks public schools are socialist. They embrace chaos and feel the children do better without rigid structures, routines, or chores holding them back. The boys pick out their own clothes, too, so they look just as chaotic as they behave.
Kerry Jones is a speech pathologist who works for the public school system and believes formal education is the key to success. Her two daughters practice dancing for hours each night, and everything is disciplined and orderly. The girls are always gone to some activity or another, so policeman Mark Jones usually eats alone in an empty house. The Jone’s don’t like spending time together, anyway, but love looking good. Heather insists that her daughters wear makeup, so they’ll look healthy and pretty.
Meeting the New Families
Heather doesn’t like Kerry’s plastic fruit decor. She is going to have drive for two hours to take the girls to a prestigious dance academy. “My family homeschools,” she tells Mark Jones. “She’s a little more plain,” Brooke says. Heather’s not going to be allowed to wear the clothes she brought while following the Jone’s family rules.
Kerry is surprised that the calendar is blank. “They never do anything!” she says. Lee can’t really coherently explain why the family homeschools. “What do you want to do when you grow up?” Kerry asks 7 year old Harrison. “Do? I’m only seven!” he answers. “I want to be a cheetah!” Kerry is quick to stomp on his wish. “That is an impossible dream!” she tells him.
Following the Family Rules
Heather now must get up before 6 am to make sure the girls get their chores done and drive them to school while Mark sleeps. Later, she shuttles them from practice to practice. The girls tell her that they don’t like hanging with their dad because he always gets them in trouble and criticizes them. Heather’s bored stiff waiting for the girls for hours. They get home, and Mark’s already asleep while the girls get right to their homework. Later, Mark drives Krista to tears talking about homecoming plans.
The Martinson’s have a homemade time machine, and Kerry has to try to teach them. “Heather and Lee are lazy and selfish,” she says. She’s not interested in Lee’s work, but thinks he needs to focus on the kids. The ten year old doesn’t retain much information, and Kerry gives him a writing test. He doesn’t do well, and Kerry thinks that’s proof that homeschooling doesn’t work. “Figure out how to homeschool well,” she tells Lee.
“Your approach to learning is an excuse to be lazy,” Kerry tells the Martinsons. Harrison and Riley are going to real school with a real teacher. Lee, a college dropout, has to take an accounting class at the community college to show how wrong it is to avoid college. Also, they’ve got to declutter and clean the house.
“Jones family, I don’t see a family here,” Heather says. “From now on, we’re going to slow down.” Mark has to live the girl’s lives for a day, going to all of their activities. “Girls, we’re going to put away all of your designer clothes,” Heather says. She wants them to stop conforming. She’s also going to have them teach themselves. “It stresses me out a lot,” Krista says. Mark calls their teachers and makes sure she’s going to be able to make up the tests she’ll miss.
“You’re an overcritical nag,” Lee tells Kerry. The kids aren’t very excited about going to school. “It’s boring and a waste of time,” Riley says. The boys can’t keep up with the academics. Lee has to be more involved in the boys’ activities, and he has to take them to gymnastics. Lee skips class, and Kerry confronts him. “Don’t raise your voice,” he warns her. “I can’t imagine that Lee knows so much that he can’t go to class and learn something,” she says.
Heather admits that she can’t teach calculus, and her son never learned it. She throws the fancy clothes off the balconey, but Brooke thinks it’s pointless because people do judge you by appearances. She tries to give the girls a homeschool lesson on English royalty, and Mark can’t believe that his girls missed a physics test for that. Mark thinks following the girl’s schedule is a waste of time. “I know they live a busy schedule,” he says.
The Jones girls have a heart to heart with their dad. “I think it would be a nice change if my dad would take to heart the things we’ve said,” Krista says. Mark doesn’t understand that they don’t want to be nagged and criticized all of the time. Heather makes Mark create a presentation about what the girls mean to him, using photos, because the talk didn’t go so well. He realizes that they should spend more time together. All of the Jones family ends up crying. Mark teaches his girls how to ball room dance. “I wish we could do it more,” Brooke says.
Heather tells Kerry the girls are too scheduled. “It is a busy life,” Kerry admits. She tells Heather that Lee is lazy and refused to go to class. “You could have just gone,” Heather tells him. Mark liked his assignment to remember when the girls were small. Kerry tells Heather that her boys are significantly behind in math and writing. “You are handicapping them. You need to get a grip!” she yells at Heather. “This is ridiculous.”
Photos courtesy ABC