(This is one of my favorite posts. It was one of those times when I didn’t really write so much as channeled thoughts from the warped soul of someone who was killed in their unschooled kid’s science experiment explosion. I wrote it back in April of 2007, but it’s just as relevant now as it was then.)
Other home schoolers’ blogs make me feel like such a slacker. Like Ava, who is a translator. Her husband, Carl, is a biologist who specializes in diseases of plants. This year, they’re educating their three kids via field trips to the Louvre and strolls along the Champs-Elysees, because she’s translating books from Arabic to French and he’s fighting grape blight or blot or rot or something. Anyway, whatever it is, it makes the wine bitter and undrinkable, so he’s my man. Sometimes, life is a Cabernet, non?
They’re both so intelligent that they have to drink three glasses of wine and take a Benadryl to talk to ordinary people like me. On Thanksgiving this year, I assume they hit the Beaujolais and then composed a “what our kids are doing in home school” post as they digested their dinde roti and sauce de myrtille. Sandwiched in between photos of French street scenes with tiny figures that might have been them or might have been almost anyone, including pigeons, were lists of what their kids were up to. I swear they only do it to make unschoolers like me feel inadequate.
My kids are very artistic, but they’ve never shown any interest in art history or anyone else’s art. Their kids are making a copy of the Empress Theodora and her retinue, a mosaic which appears on the south wall of the apse at San Vitale. Life-sized. In their hotel room. With pieces they manufacture themselves by breaking bottles, ashtrays, ceramic soap dishes and cough lozenges. (The picture of it is kind of dark, but I believe I can just make out the Smith Brothers logo on one of the red robes.)
My kids go to the library and get books about Pokemon, the latest fantasy novel, Barbie and fairies. Their kids write books like “Deforestation and its Impact on Biodiversity, Habitat loss, Trade and Endangered Species.” With footnotes. In Latin. I’m only up to page 568, but I can tell you, we won’t be getting any mahogany furniture anytime soon.
We visit museums and spend more time arguing about whether the blinds are made out of aluminum or plastic than we do looking at the exhibits. Their kids are docents at three museums and a private collection of Faberge Eggs. Imperial Eggs.The eight missing ones.
We have a Black Lab and three cats. They have a Giant Gambian Pouched Rat, a Komodo Dragon, several hedgehogs and a platypus. Laying eggs. It’s their science fair project at the homeschooler’s science fair. We don’t attend ours, ever since the unfortunate incident with the manure vs chemical fertilizer experiment. Who knew it had to be aged?
We play Mario Tennis. They play polo with real ponies and several members of royalty. We spend hours wading in tide pools, but never remember to bring our marine biology book, so all we can identify are crabs and those brown wiggly things with all the legs. Sandworms? Clamworms? Well, they’re ugly as sin and can give you a painful pinch, we know that. They often do research for the Cousteau Society. In a shark cage. With the door open.
Okay, maybe I’m exaggerating a little here, but honestly, this is what it feels like sometimes, when I read all the blog posts about museums toured, concerts attended, instruments mastered, classics read, projects completed, esoteric knowledge acquired and businesses in operation. Doesn’t anyone else just hang out with each other most of the time? Visit with friends? Read for pleasure? Make things just for the heck of it, not because they’re projects or educational? Consider Jeopardy or Good Eats or If Walls Could Talk highly educational? Doesn’t anyone take a walk without a field guide?
Sure, we get a lot of non-fiction out of the library every week and my kids are both very creative, but we’re pikers compared to what seems to be the norm in the homeschooling blogosphere. I have this recurring nightmare that my kids are going to turn 18 and sue me for not making them learn more. Oh wait, didn’t I just read that a 10 year old homeschooler did that? And represented himself. In a Class Action Suit. Tough luck, Ava and Carl.