“What?!! We have to do schoolwork?”
“But Mo-om, it’s Christmas vacation!”
The cries of my two homeschooled sons – every year, every break.
And every year, every break, I explain the same thing. “Homeschool is different from regular school,” I say.
“That’s why we go to Red Sox games in the middle of a weekday afternoon, and why we read Richard Dawkins in our pajamas while you are hanging upside down over the side of the couch. It’s why you can announce at eleven in the morning, ‘Mom, I need to run around the block. Time me on your iPhone.’ And why we have lunch at Whole Foods every Thursday. It’s why we can go to Costa Rica for three months. And it’s why we can spend six months studying the American Revolution when you become enamored with George Washington.
“But it’s also why we don’t really have any breaks. Other families do it differently, following a more structured schedule and taking the same breaks as traditional schools. But that’s not how we do it.”
It certainly wasn’t how we did it this fall.
When my father was sick and dying, we didn’t do much of anything that anyone would call school. But the boys played quietly in my parents’ basement so that they wouldn’t bother my dad when he was sleeping. And they sat patiently on my parents’ bed to run for toiletries while my dad was preparing to get up in the morning. They spent time with his lifeless body before it was cremated. And they read Psalm 23 at his funeral.
It wasn’t school; it was life. And I’m glad we could live it together.
When I stayed with my mother to help her settle in to life without my father, the boys watched forty episodes of Liberty’s Kids while their daddy was working. And they built a manger for the Christmas show at church. And practiced piano and did some math online. But mainly they hung out with their daddy and played a lot of Beyblades.
It wasn’t school, exactly. But it was life, a life in which their schooling does not always trump daddy’s work or mommy’s responsibility to her family.
Which is why we have to do a little work over “break.” Which is okay with me.