Oh my. Oh my.
Our family went out to lunch today to celebrate with Eli. He has been accepted into his new middle/seconmdary school for 7th grade and we will be putting away these wonderful homeschooling years. We toasted him with sparkling cream soda and each told stories about what these four years had meant to us.
I am struggling with this transition, even though John has been doing all of the heavy lifting with the schooling this year because of my travel. But I am certain that even at this hip little independent mountain school he will get an inferior education…he wants to be where the kids are though, where the action is. He’s twelve. I get it. But you see, I know everything there is to know about parenting, child development, and education. Just ask me. I know it all. And I serve on the Board of this little school where our daughter graduated from high school. So I love it…only not now, just not yet.
Homeschooling Eli has been the big surprise and great joy of my middle age… so far anyway. We came from a fabulous independent hip city Howard Gardner school where all our kids loved their elementary experiences. Then when got up here we romanticized the public schools in New England thinking they would somehow be like a sophisticated Little House on the Prairie. They weren’t and that was how we became first reluctant then enthusiastic homeschoolers.
Hannah is our nineteen year old. She just finished her freshman year at Mt Holyoke. She told Eli how he has been the best middle school kid she has ever known. She thinks that being home has allowed him to be more of himself than any other boy that age she ever knew, who had all became goofy penis joking heathens just to better fit in. Eli has an ironic sophisticated sense of humor and still unselfconsciously talks in a silly voice to the animals. She said she thought he had gotten a longer childhood, with a more natural lifespan because of homeschooling and it made her glad.
Benjamin told him that he wished he’d had some homeschooling. He’s a 23 year old college senior who got that kindergarten gift of time here at the other end of things. He is one semester away from graduating and counting. He told Eli that we and New City are the best schools he has ever seen, and believe me he has seen a bunch of them..colleges at least.
John talked about how much he loved studying ancient history and getting this second chance at sixth grade since he hated his the first time around. He talked about the freedom to follow any intellectual curiosity that popped up and what a thrill and lesson that had been to him.
And I talked about the joy I found in watching Eli make discoveries. We reminisced about the Salem Witch Trials and our trip to Salem. We remembered the Pirate term paper and the visit to the Pirate Museum. We remembered the NYC trips and all of the adventure fiction. I told him how grateful I was to have been given the privilege of teaching him and reading Treasure Island and all those great boy books. Davy Crockett and Daniel Boone are my pals now too.
Eli thanked us and said he was glad we’d done it and that he’d been pretty lucky to have had these four years. Then we ate lunch and I only cried a little. Until I got home and he headed to the river. Now I can’t stop crying. This was way too short. No more nursing babies and now no more schooling them either. I am crummy at transitions. I need to distract myself with something. Somehow the cow doesn’t seem quite right. And it is way to soon for grandkids. But I have to do something. My nose is all stuffed up and I look like a blowfish, swollen and ugly and miserable. I did that horrible cry where you go into the bathroom so you can look in the mirror and see just exactly how miserable you are. Then I cried even harder. Sometimes I cry for everything I have ever lost all over again. Pretty soon I will be loving the soccer matches and throwing parties for a bunch of new kids. We are already planning a summer get to know you party with the seventh grade. I know that it is likely at least one or two of these kids will become part of this family. But for now, maybe just for tonight, I am going to wallow….