As I waved Charlotte and her class off on the bus, after watching their cross country race at Karori Park, a child’s voice still rang in my ears…
‘Why is her other daughter not at school?’
And another child’s voice…
‘Does her mother not work?!’
‘Who teaches her daughter?’
And I answered, ‘I do!’ with a smile.
They laughed, slightly awkwardly, with looks of obvious confusion. There was no time for deep explanations. They were following the line onto the bus, back to school.
I simply said, ‘It’s okay! I’m at home looking after my toddler anyway and Sophie wasn’t happy in a school setting. She’s happy now and I’m okay with teaching her.’
[They smiled politely, unable to fathom anyone wanting to stay at home to ‘do school’.]
I felt slightly awkward now. There wasn’t time for more explanation. This wasn’t the time or the place. I simply said, ‘You girls are very fortunate to be going to such a wonderful school. Sophie had the opportunity but, for now, she’s choosing a different learning path.’
And that, was that (I certainly didn’t want to go into the anxiety attacks Sophie started having, after starting school, and meetings we’d had with a child psychologist).
But I so wanted them to ‘see’ more.
The hours I spend dedicated to Sophie’s natural learning in a home setting, socialising with other wonderful home-schooling families.
The hours I spend doing unpaid chores – that if I was out earning mega bucks (and sending all my children to day-care and school) I’d employ a cleaner to do. And when Charlotte has a friend round, particularly a friend with no younger siblings and from a home where both parents do paid work, they often scoff at ‘the mess’ – the creative array of toys that are in the middle of being played with, the toilet rolls that are turned into puppets, the cardboard boxes that become boats, the glitter on the table, the play-dough, the baking bowl waiting to be washed after a morning session in the kitchen. There are books often scattered, open on tables or even along the hallway. There are teddy bears in boxes. Paintings are blue-tacked proudly on the wall.
It is a home where the children outnumber the adults three to two. A home where creative play and family time is highly valued. A home where our children feel at ease expressing themselves. It is not a show home, a pad for entertaining and elegant dinners. There will be time enough for china serving sets (if we really desire) and candlelit dinners (okay, that’s a nice thought) again.
Simply put, we do what we do for LOVE. For no other reason. I don’t earn a wage. I don’t wear a suit. My husband supports the family financially and with his calm, amazing spirit. We don’t go jet setting to exotic destinations every school holiday. I get more excited buying a new book for one of my children than a new pair of jeans (and when I do get a new pair of jeans I am, of course, absolutely stoked… especially as the old ones were going bald at the knees).
I could choose to hand over my younger two children to professionals and go out and get a ‘real job’ – but seriously, what I am doing right now is the most real, most important job of all. No one else knows my young children like my hubbie and I do. When Sophie says, ‘I was so sad at school. I don’t want to feel that way. I want to learn at home. I enjoy being at home. I enjoy learning in my own way …’ I feel right in choosing this path, in partnership with her, my husband and her siblings.
She isn’t lacking in social contact. She’s by no means shy. She talks to everyone and plays with other children confidently and independently. We understand her and why this path suits her learning needs best, for now. So, am I fool? I felt like one, in their eyes, just for a moment. I forgot to visualize the ‘parent raincoat’ – and let the unsettling comments (not intended to be unsettling of course – just matter of fact observations) wash over and away.
I feel like a fool some days when the endless washing, cleaning, sorting and other responsibilities of being a full-time mother, teacher and house-keeper get overwhelming. But, I am a happy fool 🙂 So there!
My wonderful friend, Cyndi (Latte Junkie), set the theme of ‘Fool’ for this week’s Lyrical Sunday prompt.
I love the theme and will try to write a poem soon –
but the prompt brought the above post out of me first!