The Real Reason I Homeschool

IMG_00011Look, there are a lot of reasons people have for teaching their own kids.  Many of them are good and compelling.  But, for me, most have faded over time.  I see my kids growing up and I think, They were always going to be OK. 

And, anyway, homeschooling is hard and can suck the life out of a person, especially a person who used to carry a planner.  Our warm educational fuzzies have grown a little threadbare during these middle years, and the tender platitudes that used to spur me on now find me with my fingers in my ears and, you know, maybe rocking in my bathroom.

But, so help me, there is one thing that hasn’t changed–and that is my need to go slow through this life.  It turns out that a poet crawled into my head and, having rattled around there, came back and wrote a poem that exactly describes my Actual Real Reason for doing this life the way I do.

To wit:

Leisure

by William Henry Davies

What is this life if, full of care,
We have no time to stand and stare?

No time to stand beneath the boughs
And stare as long as sheep or cows.

No time to see, when woods we pass,
Where squirrels hide their nuts in grass.

No time to see, in broad daylight,
Streams full of stars, like skies at night.

No time to turn at Beauty’s glance,
And watch her feet, how they can dance.

No time to wait till her mouth can
Enrich that smile her eyes began.

A poor life this is if, full of care,
We have no time to stand and stare.

That’s my reason, folks.  What’s yours?

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Electricity

My chest is tight, I can feel it.  My arms have wrapped themselves up in front of me to keep out of harm’s way.  I draw in a breath but the air fills my lungs only partway and gets stuck.  I am electric.

This is when I’m floating outside my body, you know?  Just staring down at my dead tree self, seeing this mother, crackling and stiff.  She can’t bend, this one, not now.  She’s tucked in her branches and if a strong enough wind comes, she’ll land on her face.  Those angry features will break off and leave her expressionless, roots in the air.

And I just feel for her.  I see her so mad and I know why.  She’s had it up to here.  But shame on her, too.  She needs to shut it up.  She needs to stop the words, those boring, expiration-date words she’s said so many times before.  You kids need to be responsible.  The tortoise is not gonna feed himself, is he?  You may not sass me get your shoes off the couch stop bugging your brother we don’t say those words your room is a disaster area I have had it with you. 

The thing is, when she starts this, this woman I’m floating above, I know it’s not going to end well.  She does too but then she’s on fire by now.  She’s buzzing with purple energy and it’s razzed me as well.  So I feel sorry because I know how hard it is to shut your mouth when you see the sass in your son’s mouth, flirting around the corners.  You want to slap him with the lightening that’s filling up your arms.  And that’s why you hug them so close to you, so they’ll be out of harm’s way.

And then I hear her say things that bore me and her, and then she’s deflated, and they are angry now, or tired, which is almost worse.  And she’s angry that she’s angry, that they’re angry (how dare they be angry?).  She walks out of the living room and into her bedroom.  But the lock on the door doesn’t work well so she slips into the bathroom and stares at her Judas face in the mirror.  I’m listening for the kids, of course, while she fumes and grieves.  They seem OK.  Their skin is thicker than hers, apparently.  They can hardly see the veins in their wrists but she can see her white blood cells whirling around, fighting and cleaning, fighting and cleaning, like she herself does from time to time.

I feel myself sinking down again.  It’s time to come home.  She whispers a prayer that sounds very like a plea.  Oh, Jesus…  Then she unlocks the bathroom door.  I take a breath and the air fills my lungs full now.  I breathe out and start over.