I was in my junior year of high school when a Navy recruiter came to my classroom to hand out bumper stickers. I remember staring down at the shiny blue sticker and realized that I wanted more after graduation than “just a job.”
In 1995, I carried over that same enthusiasm when I joined the ranks of homeschooling. I knew that I was undertaking more than “just a school.” Just like Navy boot camp, I entered this new phase in my life with much anticipation, and intimidation. Was I fit to teach? Could I keep up? What if I’m not cut out for this? Knowing very few who had chosen home education, I felt like I was jumping into uncharted waters.
Informing the authorities that I was pulling my son out of public school was like getting a root canal with the numbing side effects of Novocaine. Each time someone inquired over why my kids were “out of school” as we stood at the check-out line, or asked what school they went to, I’d get that self-conscious Novocaine sensation. Why are they staring? Why so many questions?
I felt uncertain out at sea – many ships passed by towering over us. Sometimes it seemed easier to stop paddling against the currents and to go with the flow. Sometimes I wanted to jump ship and let someone else take the helm.
Sometimes I had to dig out the compass to get our bearings.
I had to remind myself that I had not chosen “just a school.”
It is when the map is unfolded that I’m reminded of the excitement of an artist. Home school is like a blank canvas waiting to be filled.
There were so many opportunities, and so many ways for my family to be creative. Half our joy was not the destination, but the journey itself.
As I reflect over the years, I don’t gauge success over days gone smoothly. Like any good book or movie, you have the rollercoaster ride of ups and downs. It’s the tears and laughter that keeps you glued to your seat. It
is the victories and the disappointments that bonded my family together.
I felt like crying when I looked down one day and realized my shoes didn’t match. My daughter and I were standing in the parking lot at the doctor’s office. I wanted to go home and climb into bed. We had plane tickets for the next morning, and now we were running fevers. My daughter stared at my feet and busted out laughing. For the first time since we became ill, I saw a twinkle in her eye as she grabbed at my arm.
“Come on, Mom, maybe nobody will notice!”
Inside I tried to hide my feet. Each time a nurse or patient looked curiously our way, we both giggled at our secret. As I drove home feeling lighthearted, I realized that something amazing had just happened. Even though we had all the symptoms of being ill, the nurse encouraged us to continue with our family trip and to
Perhaps as she checked our pulse and listened to our hearts, she saw the healing in our eyes. There was a bounce in our step as we went home and packed. It was the vision of my unmatched shoes that kept our chins up.
There have been many times when I’ve reflected over that day. What if I had turned around in the parking lot and given up? What if I had gone home and canceled our trip? What if I had worn shoes that matched?
What a wonderful and crazy experience homeschooling has been. King Solomon’s riches cannot compare to the value of time spent with my family. The symptoms of Novocaine have long worn out. No longer do I feel intimidated out at sea. I have my binocular pointed in other directions. Bigger and better ships may pass us by, but that’s okay. We have our sights on something else. All kinds of experiences lie up ahead. Home school to me is not just a school — It’s a masterpiece waiting to be painted. I can color my school house red, or I can spray it purple. We can fill our days with warm cookies and books, or sprinkle it with field trips and charting the globe. My faith and my
family are my lighthouse. Off in the horizon I see mountains to conquer, and beaches to comb. I see jungles to explore, and glorious sunsets. It is those unmatched shoes in life that keep us afloat.
Homeschool— it’s not just a job, it’s an adventure of possibilities.
Helen Ruth Cates has discovered the meaning of life from her garden. She’s thankful each day for her family, the opportunity to be home with her kids, and taking care of their pets. If she’s not online researching nematodes and blogging at http://sluglines.blogspot.com/, you’ll probably find her collecting “crunch berries” from the rabbit cages, or stepping over books to climb Mt. Laundry.