Is it already Friday? And me only halfway through my list of All The Things.
The state of NY requires homeschoolers to explain what exactly they intend to do during the forth-coming scholastic endeavor by the date of August 15—about the time when you begin to see the back-to-school pictures of every single other state. This, if you’re me, always catches you completely by surprise. But But But It’s summer! you sputter. Regular school only let out the last day of June (practically) and by never going to a store and being faced with the enormous bins of pencils, crayons, and strangely shaped plastic educational paraphernalia designed to break in the first week of class, you preserved the lie that you still had all the time in the world. But then the 15th rolls around and you have to spend fifteen hours figuring out exactly what it is you’re going to do. What will the children learn this year? you ask yourself, staring disconsolately at all the little scraps of paper and pretending that your school notebook is not buried at the bottom of a pile of junk in the schoolroom and that if you stop to retrieve it, you’ll miss the deadline.
The problem, of course, has been partly resolved for you by you and your husband painfully shelling out the vast sum of money that NY State gave you for taking the trouble to have all your children in early March for classes from your favorite online purveyor of classical education. That, of course, was its own trauma. Stopping in the midst of all your current failure to think about how you can fail next year is always a special treat. “But I’m behind in _____” the child wails when you ask her if she wants to enjoy another year of it. She stares at you in horror and you retreat and tell her it’s fine, she can do whatever she wants with her life, what do you know. Five minutes later she comes back and says, “Fine, buy it, I’ll just catch up in my life Never.” And in this way you know she is ready to go out into the world, she has understood the essential nature of modern life.
But what to do with the ones who are too small to go online? Hmmmm. Sure, this fascinated you seven years ago. You made all kinds of life-giving plans to make the art, the music, the history, the literature weave together in the gentle, warm, gracious fabric of Integrated Something or other…ok, sure, you never did that, but you Always Wanted To. But now? Now you don’t even want to. Instead, you get out another big piece of paper and map out, again, how old you’ll be when they finally all leave home because they have to because you packed up and moved into a micro-home to Make Them Leave.
Realize that, as a child, the year 2020 was the outer limit of your imagination and you never thought you would actually live to see it. But now its only four months away. So…if you don’t die in the next four months, how long can you be expected to live? Realize that it’s something more like 2050 or even 2060, hopefully not 2070—that’s a mile too far. This thought is completely appalling. Almost as appalling as realizing that the children won’t all really be able to leave your house for another ten years. So that’s crazy. Ten Years!? Really?
Then realize that the most functional ones will leave first. Stare into the fading twilight.
Wildly start typing up your plans knowing that the constraints you are unwittingly placing on yourself in the matter of art, music, pe, health, and really everything, are going to be a bad and terrible trial in February and you’re going to be very annoyed when you get to the end of the second quarter and realize you accidentally were doing something you thought you wrote down, but instead wrote down this thing that you’re writing down now, and that you wouldn’t have this problem if you faced reality and actually organized your life instead of hiding behind the stupid hope that maybe time doesn’t work the way that it actually does, but works in a completely different way, and why can’t you be a better and different kind of person…WHY?
Get on Facebook and scroll for a while, asking God or a sign. See a picture of Miley Cyrus and realize that actually, your own life is perfect and your children are wonderful and at least they like to go to church and know how to both read and sweep the floor. It’s only another ten years, and what’s ten years, so bring on September. And go check out more takes!