The Hidden Joys of Homeschooling

Lunar School Bus Interior - Sit Down And SHUT UP!!!Whenever adults ask my children where they go to school and they answer “We’re homeschooled”, their second reaction (shortly after “That’s great!”) too often is to say “I couldn’t do that, be with my kids all the time!” I never can understand that. Silently, I always wonder “Then why did you bother having kids in the first place, if you can’t stand their presence?” Not that mine are always a bundle of joy, of course; they are people, as am I, and in either case we all sometimes need alone time, or get annoyed with each other, and so on. But the idea that my own children bother me so much that I couldn’t actually imagine spending more than an hour in the morning and maybe 3 or 4 in the evening with them is unfathomable to me.

Today, my daughters showed me another reason why I love schooling at home.

Diary of a Girl Day

14:00:

We leave the house promptly, intent on an afternoon hanging out together. The plan is to go shopping at a local second-hand store called “Plato’s Closet”, then go catch a movie, grab a bite to eat, and come back home. One of my daughters has decided to leave the youngest one at home with dad (advantage number one of both homeschooling and working from home) so that we might enjoy something we haven’t done in a while: each other’s company. The movie and dinner are on her. Isn’t that sweet?

Off we set on foot towards our destination. On the way, we decide to detour to Bath & Bodyworks, where we sniff the perfumes and lotions but in the end, don’t spend a dime. We have plenty of that “stuff” at home already, and anyway that isn’t part of the plan.

By 14:30, we have arrived at our destination and are looking around to see what the girls could wear. They start with a bit of a game of their own device. Each of them finds a wide belt, then spends some few minutes assembling an entire outfit that would go with it. Well, fashion gurus would protest that they didn’t get accessories, and therefore it isn’t an “entire outfit”. Nonetheless, they get the essentials: shoes, dress in one case, shirt and top in the other, and set off to try them out. I wish I had a camera, actually, it would have been wonderful to document this! Aly’s natural fashion sense “wins” the game (not that they’re keep score, mind you), and, although not all of those items make the final cut, Nikki does get an absolutely wonderful pair of jeans, brand new with the original tag still on it, and a fabulous pair of shoes to go with them.

To save time, I start helping them out. Pants, t-shirts, shorts, skirts, once I have their sizes, I get cracking looking for things for them. Most of my choices make the cut, as long as they fit. Having spent all my life and much of my day-to-day time with them, I have a pretty good idea of their style.

Mini skirt?  Really?Skirts are a challenge, though. It seems somewhere along the way, it became acceptable to consider a piece of fabric that barely covers your genitalia to be called by that name. This has the additional drawback of ignoring girls who actually have hips and butts. They’re not mini skirts anymore, they’re micro skirts! Blah!

15:45:

We still have a handful of items to try out, and I suddenly realize we’re rapidly running out of time. Moreover, the store is becoming full of people who are looking for space in one of the 4 dressing rooms, and my daughters have occupied two for over an hour now. Yikes! They have accumulated so many items that I realize checking out will take a while. “Wrap it up, girls!” I urge them. It takes them 15 minutes to do so, though I try to help by collecting items from the changing rooms and sorting them either into the “purchase” pile, or onto the “return” rack. Finally, we are ready to pay. Aly’s pile is so big she can barely pick it up, and Nikki’s isn’t too shabby either. She’s added three pairs of shoes to her selection, too, including a pair of Nikes that really are rather cute, if very casual.

16:15:

“We’re not gonna make it!” I tell the girls. Aly has finished purchasing, but there’s still Nikki to go, I myself have a pair of shoes and some sunglasses, and the movie starts in 5 minutes.

“There’ll be at least 10 or 15 minutes of commercials,” Nikki points out.

I look at the time again, trying to decide whether we should eat now and watch the next show. Finally, it’s decided: Aly will go get our movie tickets at the theater, literally located next door, while we finish with our purchases.

She comes back no more than 5 minutes later. Nikki is finishing up, and it’s now my turn. The cashier, having heard of our plan, does her best to process us quickly.

“What are you going to see?” she asks.

“Slumdog Millionaire,” I answer.

“Oh I’d love to see that!” she replies.

“We’re pretty excited too,” I say, smiling.

We are, too. We’ve heard wonderful things about the movie and expect to be wowed. Years of commentary on various movies our family has shared together have honed my daughters’ criticism level to something a little above that of most of the other kids they hang out with. Yes, they enjoy a “fluff piece” movie, but they can be pretty critical, too, and when the buzz about a movie is this high, the bar is set in their mind.

16:35:

slumdog_millionaireFinally, we are done and, laden with our purchases, we exit the store and quickly make our way to the movie theater. We have a few minutes of panic when we realize Nikki, through a misunderstanding with her sister when she returned from purchasing our tickets, has lost hers. Aly goes back to the store and finds a customer had found it on the counter. Whew! At $8.50 a ticket, no one relished the idea of having to purchase another one. Finally, we enter the theater, order our popcorn and soda, and find our seats in the nearly empty theater. The movie has already started, but we arrive in time for the title screen, so I figure we didn’t miss more than 5 minutes.

In case you’re wondering, what follows are one hundred and twenty minutes of pure joy. I won’t describe the movie in the post, except to say this:
GO SEE IT! Run, don’t walk, to the nearest theater and spend the money. You won’t regret a single penny.

18:30:

Dazed and amazed, we exit the dark confines of the world of “Slumdog” into the real world.

“That was a GOOD movie!” exclaims Nikki. (I can practically hear the underlines, all-caps and bold font in her enthusiasm.)

“Yes it was,” adds Aly, grinning ear to ear.

“I practically turned into a puddle in my seat when she picked up that phone,” I say. “‘Hello?’“, repeating a line from the movie, which they immediately understood.

We stand there for a few moments, discussing other salient points, unable and unwilling to let it go just yet. We bask in the memory.

Phon-ey CallFinally, I call home. Hubby hadn’t been feeling well when we left, and I knew Tai had been in a great mood. You can read into that “boisterous” and therefore draining on someone who’s under the weather. We took turns speaking to her, in fact, making sure she had behaved herself.

“What time will you be home?” she asks Aly.

“Around 7:30,” is the reply, which is in about an hour. “We’re just going to get a bite to eat, then we’ll be on our way.”

They hang up, and we are once again on our way, closing the loop toward home.

While we eat, we discuss the movie some more, make small talk, and generally prolong our moments enjoying each other’s company.

19:40:

Another hour finds us safely home, relaxing after a tiring but wonderful day. Tai is excited to see us and can’t wait to see what we got, Rip is relieved (poor thing, I’ll have to thank him properly soon), purchases are displayed for Tai’s benefit and put up neatly, and we are back to the real world.

Drawn Away by DandelionsIt’s been a great day, and I can’t imagine having been able to muster the enthusiasm for it had we lived a more “normal”, standardized life. When you live by the “children belong in school (away from their parents)” mantra, it’s difficult to imagine such a day, or such generosity coming from children so (relatively) young. How could it be otherwise? The “normal” way serves to alienate parent and child, while pretending that it is for the good of both. Now there is nothing wrong with children being in school, parents earning a full-time living, per say. The problem lies in the reasoning it has engendered. I am regularly appalled at the number of mothers, especially, who blithely quip how they can’t wait for their toddlers to start going to school, excited at the idea of not having to care for them all day. Sometimes, the comments come from mothers of children not-yet two who can barely walk yet. Summer always brings a further continuation of this theme. “Oh man, the kids are going to be home all summer, what a drag!” these women groan. Groan! Yes, I know their constant presence will disrupt the routine you’ve been living with for 10 months out of the year, but considering that by the time these children have finished all their extra-curricular activites, you’ve actually spent more time with your co-workers than your own flesh and blood, I think such logic borders on the insane.

I’m not the crazy one.

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