Why the Tree of Life?

8.21.2011

Not Back to School

School starts tomorrow--- for everyone else that is. But not us! :) I dearly love that I can sit on the sidelines of back-to-school shopping and 8 1/2% off sales weekends. I am so, so happy that I do not have to fill out endless pages of school forms. Tomorrow, we can get up at our usual time, and we do not have to get out the door at the bootie crack of dawn to get anyone anywhere on time. I am not packing sack lunches right now. No child of mine is lying in bed sleepless with anxious butterflies in their stomach.

I'm glad summer is winding down, and with the school kids gone during the days, we get the parks and the museums to ourselves again. When school was let out at the beginning of summer, I met a homeschooling friend at a crowded park, and she looked at me and said with a voice full of irony, "Darn all these kids!" I laughed. Yep.

We did a few week-long day camps this summer (at the opposite end of town no less!), and as I was filling out those forms and making those lunches and getting people places on time and picking them up on time and making sure I wasn't late and charged extra fees, I realized, this is a little taste of school. Just a little. And I didn't like it, not one little bit. Sure, my week was quieter than the usual noise-level I deal with, but it was more hectic. The kids had fun, and I was glad they got to taste rock climbing and LEGO robotics and rocket science, but they also came home exhausted and grumpy. And I felt like I didn't really see them during those weeks. There was very little connection, and it was weird not knowing what they were learning or being involved in some way.

Sometimes I envy school moms for their free time, but then I remember those few weeks of day camps, and the price for that free time is too high for me. While it's fun for a week or two at a time, I don't want to hand my kids off to others to raise and educate. Where's the fun in that? I recently had an open and frank conversation about educational choice with a dear friend of mine. She sends her children to public school, and I, of course, homeschool. For her, the annoyances of teaching a child at home are too great, while she could stand the annoyances that came with sending her child to school ("parent" homework masquerading as kid homework, bureaucracy, etc...), whereas I would tear my hair out if I had to deal with the things she has had to deal with in connection with "school." It all comes down to what sorts of hassles you are willing to deal with, and which ones are just too much to be endured. (Not to mention I like teaching, while she prefers her career).

I would rather be at home, teaching my children. Sure, I have less free time, but it's an easy price to pay because I can't, I really can't, imagine what I would do instead. I want to be the one sitting beside my child when the light bulb goes off that c-a-t says "cat." I want the freedom to travel whenever we want, to take our vacations in April and October when it is actually a joy to be outside. I want to be the one holding their hands and saying, "I don't know. Let's find out!"

So, to all our friends who are starting school this week, good luck! I now know that we each see the other's road as too hard to walk and are happy in our own shoes. And even though we are on different schedules, there is a looseness to summer that I am ready to be at an end, so we will be buckling down, too, in much the same ways to finish out our summer term--- and looking forward to our own break in about a month and a half. Whoohoo!