Last Friday my daughter and I went to pick up our veggies from our CSA. After greeting us, Farmer Steve asked if we had gone through the "U Pick". I asked which veggies were available to pick ourselves. He happily answered, "Cherry tomatoes." Without thinking my face wrinkled up, I stuck out my tongue, and I said, "Oh No! YUCK." I surprised him and myself. He said, "That is not the reaction I usually get." I shared my story of being maybe four years old and returning home from my grandpa's garden with the back of our Toyota full of veggies. The cherry tomatoes looked so beautiful that I couldn't resist trying just one. Forty years later, I can still feel the awful experience of popping that warm cherry tomato into my mouth and tasting the juices as they exploded into my mouth. I HATED the taste! To this day the thought of eating a cherry tomato still makes me sick.
Farmer Steve knows me from years ago when the kids and I spent a lot of time on the farm volunteering. After sharing my story he said, "Cathy, you are always going against the grain, aren't you?" I knew he wasn't talking just about not eating cherry tomatoes but also how I have eaten for the last eight years and how I have chose to educate my children, among other things.
Well, this year we will not be going against the grain when it comes to schooling. For the first time ever my children will be attending school. Sophia will be a freshman and Alexander a junior. After spending their previous years playing, exploring and even experiencing a feeling that I believe many children are lacking in - boredom, they are ready to find out what this whole school thing is about.
I do need to clarify that we aren't totally going WITH the grain. Sophia will be a full time student but Alexander will be going part-time. He will take two electives. His school day will be complete by 9:30am. As a part-time student he is able to participate in all extra curricular activities. Sophia has already started cross country training and Alexander will start next week.
Many people have asked in a worried voice, "How do you feel about this?" Truly, I am excited. When we chose to educate them in a way that is even alternative to homeschooling, the intent was that they followed their passions rather than a curriculum designed by strangers. Right now school seems to be the route that allows them to meet their current needs. Alexander chose to not go full time because he LOVES learning new things in a way that works very well for him and is afraid the staleness of a classroom may rob him of that love. Instead he chose to take two classes that he has found difficult to learn on his own.
I have always wanted my children to have choices and not feel they were doomed to a one track way of life. Right now this is the path they both want to take and I can't be anything other than happy for them. In fact, it has created a renewed closeness with myself and Sophia that I am absolutely loving!!!! I see her as a very determined teen who will make things happen for herself and right now public school seems to be the route she needs to take. She is a woman that needs to experience things - reading about them isn't enough.
As we move into this new world of public school, I do sometimes feel pulled towards the grain a little more than I want to, but when you know that it is meeting the needs of your children, it is worth it. Besides that, knowing who I am and who my children are, I can't see us buying into everything or ever totally going with the grain. It just isn't who we are.
Please wish us luck on this new journey. I know it will come with surprises, disappointments, and also many great memories.