It sounds awful but since Smootch started in-school school last September, my favorite days are the ones when she is home due to illness or inhospitable weather. Those days we play and make stuff and read books and watch interesting stop action youtube videos of people creating art or stories about robots who fall in love. And with someone to play with little brother, I actually get to do a little sewing and creating myself.
I know - I remember - there are some really challenging aspects of homeschool, but, at least for some time on most days, homeschooling felt a little like witnessing a miracle.
I miss being around Smootch at the times in her day when she is most focused and creative, which, as Smootch's habits are rather regular, usually just after lunch. That's the time when she just suddenly stops whatever she is doing, collects up some paper and drawing supplies, maybe glue and scissors, and sets up camp at the kitchen table. She always looks like she's tapping into some limitless, universal energy, connected and guided by human-kind's timeless drive to bring into physical reality what we dream of. She always looks like she has no choice, she Must. Make. Something.
Smootch becomes so angry sometimes at her school. How when they finally let her use her colouring pencils, it's to colour a picture of something and then cut it out. She says sometimes she just needs to draw something from her mind but she's not allowed and then she gets tired and thirsty and can't hear what the teacher is saying. She's outraged at her lack of autonomy, of movement, of freedom of thought.
No daydreaming allowed, even in grade one.
One day Smootch is in love with her school, her friends, her teachers. The next, she wants to be home. There are two drives at work here, one the basic human need to have agency over her time and abilities. To own her work. The other to do what everyone else is doing, to go where the kids are. To belong.
I feel like this is where I have fallen down, being unable to balance these needs for her. When at home she had the time and resources to follow her passions as far as she wanted but through whatever variables you care to mention - moving away from our homeschooling friends, homebody mama, inclinations to solitary activities - we've failed to create a community around us that we could access during school hours. We don't live near any homeschoolers who like us and want to be around us. Smooch is an extroverted child, what can I say? She even dedicates all of her drawings to people, because she feels her work is squandered without a connection to a person (though it makes no difference if that person is living or not).
Last summer, having so many friends she could spend her entire day playing with, and hearing the pied piper's song, she followed them off to school. I imagine she thought school would be like the endless days of summer, where you were able to be with your friends and pursue your imaginative play. Her previous experience was in a Montessori school, so what else could she of thought?
But school is not like that, of course.
On the other hand, I will never be able to provide a perfect life for her, so maybe her balance will have to be sought in other ways. She still has a home that supports her in her passions. Yes, she lost some energy to school, but, hey, easy is the stuff of cartoons and tv ads. Not really real, you know?
Homeschooling wasn't easy. School isn't easy. There is good and bad to each. Thank goodness for weekends and days too cold to walk to school (and I can't justify starting the car and warming it for five minutes to drive the six blocks to school). That is a sort of balance.
Those days are are deliciously long and unbroken by the artificial demands of the clock. When the pajamas are swapped for dress up and lunch looks more like
|(Yep, that really is my toilet. I've broken a blogging boundary here.)|
Those days there is
Enough time to find something really interesting
and let it utterly absorb you.
In this place where everything is fodder for the imagination.
And mama's papers are actually just interestingly patterned canvases.
Ah. But I must go. Got to be up early to make the school run. I hope tomorrow Smootch will get a chance to stretch out her creative muscles (or her subversive ones - school does teach all sorts of unintended yet valuable lessons as well), find a way to become absorbed in the task of the moment and appreciate the time and energy the grown ups around her have given to try to make her school a place where she can be sheltered from distractions and learn something. And later she can come home and meet up with her old friends, pencil crayons and drawing pad, and draw herself another world.
Balance. It may not be exactly what I ordered, but, in the end, it is what it is.