A quick update for those that follow here:
The last month or so has been busy times for this homeschooling mama. We have entered a literacy fair which takes place tomorrow. My zany six year old has made a fantastic poster to display on the book Rabbit Hill by Robert Lawson. I will post a picture of the poster later. We have also recently gotten into geocaching. What fun! Letting my son embark on a treasure hunt, teaching him how to use lat/longs, directions, deduction and to spot a well camouflaged cache. There are also tons of riddles to solve and it often takes the whole team to accomplish this.
We took our first family trip to Gettysburg. The first day was cool and very foggy, which only served to add to the mystique of the area. We took off beaten paths through the woods, lined up for General Reynolds, “fired” Union cannons and ultimately fell to enemy fire. After all that work, we enjoyed a steak dinner in the oldest house in Gettysburg (Dobbin House Tavern) and then retired to our hotel room. My six year old was very excited by a shower that was large enough all three of us could have slept in there with room to spare. We met up with my uncle who I had not seen in four years or so and let J take a dip in the pool.
The next day, we started at the museum, film and cyclorama. My son was engaged and I watched as his tiny little mind was taking it all in. After the film and a short break, we completed a 3 hour audio tour which took us 6 hours due to frequent stopping and soldiering that we felt compelled to do. It was such a pleasure to take my son to the spot where his namesake earned the Medal of Honor through a remarkable act of bravery. I could see his pride when I explained to him what had taken place on that patch of dirt and that I had named him after such an honorable soldier.
My sister has finally had her baby, though there has been some family drama post birthing. I am just pleased to not be involved in the drama. I was geocaching when it all took place and (fortunately) unable to answer the phone.
I have been thankfully recovering from a little downtime. Fiona was my faithful friend, her sweet voice helping to ease very old scars. The world so often lets me down and I want to believe that my past is an anomaly. But every day I sit in this place, I watch these people interact, I read the news, I read comments on blogs and videos and I know the awful truth. My past is the past of so many women and that reality is often too much to bear.
For today, I choose not to give in. There is no past that can take away my today.
Judgement. Its such an ominous sounding word. Its official. Heavy. It is the weapon by which so many people keep others in line. I have seen it used for good, but much more often for evil. Evil is a strong word, but ultimately, it is the little evils that make our world a colder place.
Women are the greatest doers of evil. They judge. They gossip. The same women who last week discussed the health benefits of fish oil, made fun of our Australian guest today for last week’s sharing of her child friendly fish oil finds. These are the same women who declare their moral superiority because everything they give their children is chemical free, color free.
Last week, I had a similar experience with a few of my coworkers. All childless, judging a parent for a horrific accident that cost the life of his child. As if the parent did not have enough guilt to last him the rest of his life, now he has the world passing judgement on his entire life based on one day, one moment, one mistake.
Why do we as a nation think that five paragraphs or a three minute news story gives us some kind of right to judge an entire person’s life and character? Who do we really think we are?
I don’t understand why people bother to have children if they don’t want to spend time with them. Listening to one of the mothers at my son’s gymnastics class, you’d think her daughter was some huge inconvenience. You’d think she just appeared, unasked for, like a puppy on the doorstep. No lady. In fact, you and your husband created your child. You chose to carry her and give her life. Now, treating her like you can’t stand to be around her; talking to the other mothers in gymnastics, telling them how much you can’t stand to have her at the house for the summer—that is something I can’t understand.
This all came about because another mother and I were discussing our homeschooling plans for the upcoming school year. The other mother is homeschooling her daughter for the first time- kindergarten. My son is now in first grade, and we’ve now spent over a year homeschooling. She is from another country. So, she was getting advice and tips. Hearing this, the mother of the other poor little girl began her put downs. “I just don’t understand how you can deal with your kids all day every day without a break.” “I couldn’t be home that much.” “I have to get out of the house, I have to get her out of the house.” “I love my daughter but I just couldn’t deal with her full time. I can’t wait for her to go back to school.”
I looked at her sweet little toe-headed five year old and thought of how it must make her feel to have her mother tell strangers that she doesn’t want to deal with or be around her all the time. That can’t do much for a child’s confidence. Children experience enough judgment and criticism from the world around them. At least their parents should want to spend time with them, feel compelled to do better for their kids. If you don’t want more for your kids—and not just want more but be willing to provide it—who will?
This is not an incitement on parents who public school. People send their kids to public, private and charter schools for many reasons. They also homeschool for many reasons. Sometimes those choices boil down to a “this is the best we can do for now” situation and many times it boils down to “this is what I think is best.” All of those are perfectly acceptable. What I am baffled at, are the parents who say things like “I couldn’t deal with her full time.” If you can’t stand to be around your kid, its because YOU did something wrong. Children are a reflection of their parent’s parenting skills. All children deserve to feel loved and wanted, no matter their parent’s choice of schools.
It’s nice to be a grown up. As I sit and listened to my coworker’s stories of the past weekend, this simple sentence was all I could think. They proudly admitted to large quantities of alcohol consumed, not remembering how many jello shots they did or many hours of the night. I thought of snuggling with my six year old in the dark of DAR Constitution Hall, listening to Tori and watching his eyes follow the intricate light show that accompanied the rich, living sound of her piano. I remembered being proud of my son for looking at me when Tori began to sing “Gold Dust Woman” and saying, “That’s someone else’s song.” Proud that he could decipher Tori Amos from Stevie Nicks.
Don’t get me wrong, I have nothing against alcohol. Sitting in a 15th Century style restaurant with food, décor and staff made to bring you back to Medieval Europe, I happily taste tested the sample of mead placed before us. Last year at Disney, I got ridiculously excited over some fruity cocktail with a light up ice cube inside. I enjoy a well-crafted drink, and I enjoy savoring the flavor and the slight warmth and relax that just the right amount of drink can bring.
It just isn’t a prerequisite to having fun anymore. I was happy enough to stroll the streets of DC, pop into a museum and watch my son’s glee when he spied a Jackson Pollock painting, the artist we have been studying as of late. We were actually almost late due to fact that before leaving home to check into our DC hotel on Saturday, my son was experimenting with Pollock’s techniques with reckless abandon. Even the neighbor kid stopped by and decided to give it a try. I was unwilling to cut him off early and eventually, he used all of the paint and we had to call it quits.
And so I sit happily, knowing someday, when they are “grown” all of their stories will not revolve around how much they have had to drink and who did more shots. One day they will learn to slow down and appreciate how life feels sober. Those moments of clarity and full feeling cannot happen between drunkenness and hangovers. They think me a prude and I smile. I no longer have to escape and someday, they will be happy enough not to have to escape either.
Sometimes you are just inspired. When life has found me sitting, day in and day out, in a mold infested room with fuzzy blobs of people like substance whose brains have long since rotted from neglect, inspiration has been hard pressed to find me. The sheer blood boiling ignorance of having to tell someone to turn the page to find the answers they seek; of having someone so unaware of the basic facts of life that are going on around them– its maddening.
One man’s misfortune is my luck. One of the few people whose light burns brighter than the rest has found himself under the misfortune of being thrust back into our administrative hovel. He is a dreamer, and with his love will soon be off on a world adventure. My bones are green with envy. To be able to throw off the world, dispossess themselves of all the ties that bind, and just go. My heart longs to go on such grand adventures.
Alas, I am bound here by chains stronger. But I am working on our release. Paying off our debts is goal number one. Anyone who has a Master’s Degree worth of student debt knows what I mean. We aren’t over our heads, but we have enough to make freedom out of reach. So, a short time of focused goal tending and then, off to see the world.
I have already freed my son of societal expectations by not forcing him into the government run institution that erodes their self and builds up an artificial, commercial consumer who has more wants than dreams. My goal: to teach him to find passion for something. Anything. As long as it is his passion.
For today, I am playing hooky from work. Taking my son to a concert he picked. And delaying the mind numbing ignorance that makes me angry and anxious.
Until then: out to collect my daily prize!!
I am working on some unique ideas to help parents in our local area find things to do with their children on weekends, holidays and other school vacations. If there was a website available to you for this kind of thing, what would be most useful to you? Do you prefer lots of pictures? A good description of what is available? Discounts to that place (if it costs money)? Perhaps worksheets or other activities that you and your child can take part in at that location?
Would you subscribe to this kind of website? Would you pay for access to this kind of service? Would you purchase materials (such as ebooks, worksheets) from this kind of a site? Would you like this site to link you up with amazon or other sellers of activities that can be used at the sites (for example, if the activity was to fly a foam airplane, would you want the site to tell you “These can be purchased online or at Target” or would you rather that it said something to the effect of “Purchase online now”)
Share your comments below.