Diving In

October 21, 2014

Last month we made a big decision. We withdrew Camille from the local public school and officially entered the world of homeschooling. It's been an interesting transition with several twists I hadn't expected and most of them center around the process of sharing this news with others.  We had been so caught up in discussing and researching our decision that I never really gave any thought to how to share our news with others. In fact, the first few times I found myself entering into conversations about our decision, I stumbled about looking for the right words and wondered if this was how it felt to "come out".  I found myself inhaling deeply while trying to quell the  desire to just rush through the revelation and leap ahead to their initial response. I quickly realized that I needed to come up with a "spiel", not unlike the ones I have crafted over the years regarding Camille's adoption or our nomadic life as a military family or the story I tell about how a Catholic Cajun girl ended up raising two Jewish kids.  I needed to have a handy little snippet to share with folks and the more I recited it, the easier the telling would become and the less I would worry about others' reactions. And so I did that.

But then I jumped into the pool with the homeschoolers and that's when the cold water shot up my nose and the sputtering started all over again. Suddenly, I was telling my story and realizing it was being prodded from a different angle. Like a new puppy at the dog park pool, I had been so eager to meet others who were homeschooling that I naively thought I would automatically be a member of the pack. If I had been paying closer attention to Hugo's recent dog encounters, I would have been able to anticipate that I would have to be carefully sniffed and inspected before any frolicking/connecting could begin. It doesn't matter how unconventional or rebellious one's decision may seem within the mainstream context, there still remains a deep-seated and very human need to place others into recognizable boxes. I soon realized that I would need to not only be able to identify the type of homeschoolers we would be (secular, ecclectic), but also defend our decision to homeschool and explain why we hadn't always been homeschoolers. So once again, I found myself crafting a story that would be told and re-told until it began to feel a bit easier to recite while doing a bit of my own sniffing to see if this might be a good fit for future homeschool connections. 

This recent homeschooling plunge has been a funny little trip into the weird world of human dynamics and an educational reminder that regardless of one's experiences or opinions on school/homeschool, there is a hard-wired and very human desire to examine others' decisions in the context of your own. And in the midst of all this there is my naked insecurity sprawled like a panting dog desperately wanting to sound smooth and coherent, while sputtering and slipping in the piles of anxious drool. Would this all work? Were we doing the right thing? Would we regret this?

None of these probing examinations or my attempts to respond really matter because the reality is that Camille is suddenly smiling again, happily diving into books, writing up a storm, asking strong thoughtful questions, and having fun. This is clearly the right decision for her at this moment in time and I am taking my cues from her (and Hugo) by shaking off the muddy questions and anxious slobber to dive in beside her.
Kelleyn Rothaermel said...

First welcome back! Missed you and your adventures. Never thought about not being met with open arms when jumping into the homeschool pool. We have gone back and forth whether to homeschool or not as our 12 year old is really struggling. He says he wants to stay in public school, but he just isn't thriving and he is a super bright child. Happy that you were able to make a decision that was best for miss C!

Josh and Rebecca Arthur said...

Hi Lucia! I loved reading your thoughts on this and have found myself feeling some of the same emotions in recent months. We did a fairly non-traditional thing and pulled Elise and Caleb out of school to travel for 3 months in between Josh finishing school and starting a new job in St. Louis. It was wonderful and challenging and opened our eyes to a host of discoveries here in the U.S. of A. We just arrived in St. Louis and the kids actually started school at the local public elementary school today...I, with mixed emotions and them feeling very excited and a little nervous. We'll see what the future brings; I hope to be able to make a decision that's best for my kids and their learning like you did for Camille.

Heather said...

I was so happy to see your blog pop up on my feed! I've missed your evocative photography and insightful words. Congratulations on diving in to a new adventure in education! Although I know public school is what's best for my kiddos at this point, I do miss our days of shaping our own learning and finding our own rhythm. Good for you doing what's best for your girl! I'm sure you'll find your feet soon. Have fun!

Dim Sum, Bagels, and Crawfish said...

Thank you for the warm welcome and thoughtful comments. Hoping to be better about blogging again. I have missed it.

Karen said...

I was about to email you and see how it was all going when I thought to check the blog. Glad to see you posting! And everything you wrote is so very true. I think that's why I didn't bother trying to connect with other homeschoolers last year -in the sense that we were so transient I didn't want to worry about making connections and defining what type of homeschoolers we were when only to be moving on so quickly. And to be honest, they type of HSer we were changed with the months. It is also funny to me as I am about to pull them back out that I am grappling with all the same issues I had the first go round! I guess we never stop worrying or questioning ourselves.

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