I should have seen it coming.
For years, I declared on numerous occasions that I would never home school my children. I cited all the reasons for my rational (and uneducated) decision that people now recite to me when I reveal that, for now, I am educating my children this way. Just a few days ago during the “be a pharmacist” slice of my week, one of my regular customers asked me where Julia and Brighton went to school. When I told him, I got the “look” and then the question I knew before he asked it , “What about socialization? How will they know how to interact with other children?” Now, if this 70 plus year old man wasn’t one of my Wednesday favorites, I would have been tempted to say something like, “Puh- lease. You can’t be serious.” Or maybe, “Yeah, Mr. So and So, I don’t know. We are pretty much in lockdown. No one in and no one out.” Or maybe, “You got me. Private sewing classes, private swim lessons, private baseball and soccer- which gets a little tricky, and private ballet lessons are getting kind of expensive, not to mention the musicians we hire for our house church of four when we convene on Sunday mornings in our den.” But, no. My sweet Momma’s training kicked in. I smiled, straightened my itchy white coat and said, “Oh, I think they will get it somewhere along the way.”
I never have been one to choose something that might rock the boat in my little lake. I like smooth water—the kind that no one really notices and if one does, finds little to criticize. Two years ago when we made the decision to teach Julia (and later, Brighton) at home, I dreaded the waves so much, I think I emailed my Mom instead of calling her. To her credit, she has done nothing but cheer me on in my unusual endeavor. Thankfully, today, home schooling isn’t nearly as “weird” as it used to be………still a little, but not as much. My boat has rocked hardly at all and that has surprised me.
There has been another little surprise that I hadn’t expected—only because I hadn’t thought of it. If I had, I may have succumbed to the idea of school at home much more quickly. I remember sitting in the movie theatre about ten years ago watching Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan email back and forth. At some point in the movie he said he would send a bouquet of freshly sharpened pencils to her every fall. See, I am the one whose heart flip flopped at that line and also had the urge to head to the nearest Walgreens to buy a 12 pack of No. 2’s. Many years before, when I was in elementary school, I thought those first couple weeks of school were the best—everything was brand new from the pencil I held in my hand to the cute little sneakers covering my feet. I was that third grader who, the night before school started, placed all the clothes my Mom had purchased for me on my bed- in outfits, mind you- then hung them up in the order I would wear them. However, as much I as liked the matching clothes fresh with folding wrinkles and tags, the new school supplies were really my prized purchases. My binder was slick and unscathed by scratches, stickers, stray marks or shoe prints from leaving it on the floor board of carpool one too many times. It was full of fresh, smooth paper. My pencils were long and smooth with complete erasers and no teeth marks....yet. My folders had nice sharp corners. The zipper pocket in my 3 ring binder zipped without a hitch and was stuffed with everything on the “list”- my favorite being my very own pair of mini-scissors. And who doesn’t love a box of brand new Crayons with their pointy tips??? My wooden ruler was free of pen and pencil marks down the edges where my hand would soon slip. The spirals of my notebooks were nice and round (not squashed) so the pages turned perfectly. And the best? My lunch box wasn’t rusted or bent and it didn’t smell bad.... yet. New, new, new!
A couple of weekends ago, a friend of mine and I loaded up the car with everything remotely related to school scattered about our homes, computers, a printer and some food and left town to plan for school. I loved every minute of it—looking at all the book lists, deciding on which books, art and music we'd cover, mapping out the year, getting to see all of Jessica’s stuff and of course, just being with her. A few days later, I got online and ordered all the new materials that I had spent time researching. By the next day, I was wishing I had sprung for Next Day Air! I could hardly stand it that I had to wait possibly a WEEK for it to make its way to Texas! Every day we left the house, I would hope that “TODAY” would be the day I would see the large cardboard boxes resting by our front door when we made our way into our cul de sac. Well, yesterday Christmas came. As I lugged two large boxes in, I was debating on when to open them—like right then or later when the house was quiet and no one would be snatching the plunder out of my hands. Definitely, later. After bedtime, when things were still, I had to grin as I opened up brand new spirals enjoying the sound of paper separating for the very first time. It made me happy to see booklets with no creases and with nice pokey corners. I loved the feel and the smell of the unwrinkled, crisp paper. Pitiful, I know, but I can’t deny it.
I try to recreate this for Julia and Brighton to a degree, but I know it is not the same. Their memory will be something else and that’s okay. I have my “back to school” memory and every year I get to teach at home, I will enjoy opening up the boxes left at my front door, perusing the great new materials, smelling the freshly sharpened No. 2 pencils, filling their desks with reams of white virgin paper and folders without tear or crease, unpacking new glue sticks, tape, erasers, scissors, Crayons etc. and all the while resisting the urge to click around on ebay looking for a white Trapper Keeper and a Holly Hobbie lunchbox with matching thermos.