When I think about homeschooling my eventual children, here are some of the nice things that occur to me:
1) We can live anywhere. And then we can move and not worry about the new schools.
2) We won’t have to have the public/private debate and end up worrying that our kids aren’t in the most advantageous environment if we choose public or that we don’t have any more money if we choose private.
3) We can travel as a family, and it can count as schooling. Maybe we can do this on a boat. Boats sound nice in my fantasies. There was that family a while back who sailed around together for a year, and the mom wrote a book about it (of course). I can’t imagine this working very well when I was a kid, because of my brothers. They chased each other around the house a lot. And then the house felt small, even though it was a house. But maybe I’ll have quieter kids. Bear is pretty quiet. And calm. And low key. I’m really, really hoping our kids turn out just like him and practically nothing like me. I also hope they get his nose, because it’s adorable.
(I googled “boat” and got this. Amazing. source)
I was imagining something more like this:
4) My kids can play outside a lot. Playing outside is like the archetypal thing that parents imagine their wholesome eventual children doing. So it sounds pretty corny. But it really is great, when you get down to it. I played in a stream for a lot of my childhood. It was amazing. Really. I had so many adventures in that stream. I was so proud of that stream. When it dried up in the dead of summer, I was embarrassed for both of us. It looked so naked and sad and had so obviously failed, and it was mine. When there was a brief flood that caused panic among sheltered New Jersey adults, I snuck outside and forded my raging river stream, bursting with pride and excitement. Dad was very upset when he discovered that I was gone. He was also very upset when I came back, and he got to tell me how upset he’d been.
Maybe my children won’t fall in love with a stream, but I’d like to at least give them the opportunity to do a lot of fun stuff outside.
5) My kids can mess up without it being a big deal. They can try to learn a really difficult language and then decide they’d rather learn a different one and they can switch over without getting anything on their record. They can get all of the math problems wrong until they get them right, and it won’t even matter. Actually, it’ll just be nice for them not to have records.
6) My kids can hang out with each other. You guys know how much I love my brothers. Can’t live without those guys. And it’s always been that way. My non-schooled friends have pretty much always been friends with their siblings. And I’ve been friends with their siblings, too. People came in families, not alone. We all belong to our families, whether or not we like it.
Bear and I are in California this week, visiting his family. Sometimes it’s a little heartbreaking, to be on opposite coasts. I wonder how we’ll make it work. I wonder who we’ll have to choose– mine or his. I wonder where our kids will grow up, and which set of grandparents they’ll grow close with. You’re not supposed to put it like that. You’re supposed to say “they’ll be close with both, for different reasons” or something. But it’s much easier to be close with someone you see. Someone you spend more time around. Growing up, I had a primary and a secondary set of grandparents. That’s just the way it works sometimes.
And I don’t want it to work that way for Bear and me and our future children. I want both. I want everything.
My dad says, “That’s not the way life works,” sometimes. He tells me that people settle down. They make certain choices. They build a home.
I think, “People don’t always have to do the thing that people always do.”
I think about spending winters and springs there, summers and falls here. I think about how else it might work. And then I think about how I will homeschool my kids, and I feel relieved. The imaginary structure of my hypothetical future is flexible. There may eventually even be room for a boat trip. Who knows.