“Do your kids ever wish they could go to school?”
This question, most recently posed to me by a friend, is something that I often wonder myself. I mean, I happen to know the answer so I don’t actually wonder, but back when I started homeschooling I kind of assumed that the kids would go through spells of wanting to go to school and it’d be me against them and I’d have to either put my foot down and say This Is The Way It Is or I’d eventually cave and let them scamper off to join their peers.
However, they are extremely vocal about not wanting to go to school. They say things like, “I’m NEVER going to school.”
And then I think, Oh dear, I’ve totally brainwashed them!
This year, day one of real school (public school, that is, not our homeschool) found us sleeping in, eating breakfast at 9 am, and then jumping into the canner and staying there for the rest of the day. Mid afternoon I suddenly hollered, “Look at that! The bus!” (except it wasn’t the bus but I thought it was), and then I lapsed into a dreamy speech, “Do you guys realize that if you went to school this would be the first year that all of you would be out of the house? Do you know what that means? It means that I would’ve just spent the entire day in the house by myself. Alone, all by myself, doing whatever I wanted, all day long…”
Through my half-closed lids, I could see the children, each of them standing still, watching me closely, trying to comprehend what I was saying. Then my oldest tentatively, almost fearfully, asked, “Do you wish we were in school?”
I snapped my eyes open wide and said firmly, slowly, “No. I want you right here with me. I like hanging out with you guys.”
My son exhaled sharply (had he been holding his breath?) and muttered “Good.”
The moment gone, the kitchen was once again a blur of flying feet, flashing knives, and fruit.
But my heartstrings were wrung just a tiny bit because my son sounded so genuinely relieved. Like he was unsure of his place in our family, and actually believed that I might send him away—regardless of his preference—for just a few hours of coveted alone time.
I felt kind of flattered, too. My kids, social animals that they are, actually want to be here at home with boring old me. What a pleasant surprise.
It won’t always be this way, I know. Eventually they’ll be chomping at the bit to get out of this house and on with their lives. They’ll get jobs and buy cars and higher education and fall madly in love and leave me to go make their own nests. All that will happen, sure enough, but just because it will happen (and should happen, hallelujah!) doesn’t mean I have to rush it.
So I won’t. I’ll savor our mid-morning breakfasts and hodge-podge lunches with all of us crowded around the little kitchen table and these late summer nights where they run pell-mell through the yard shrieking their fool heads off.
These years are fast and furious, so saturated with both exhaustion and exhilaration that I can hardly comprehend it.
But that’s not going to keep me from trying.