I was never a very good student. I was a goof-off. I talked too much and quite frequently got in trouble. My mother used to say that I was very smart and bored in class. I am not sure if that's true. I wonder if I would have been labeled and medicated had that sort of thing existed. What I do remember is being very interested in reading. I loved to read and would get in trouble occasionally for reading by flashlight under the covers. I did not love to study and I did not love how restricted I felt in school. I started working part time in 11th grade and after starting to make money and having the freedom that it bought, I chose not to further my education past a high school diploma.
As an adult I continued to read and felt a kinship with the biographies and autobiographies of self-taught Americans. A few of my friends chose to homeschool their children and after my daughter began public school in Kindergarten, I felt called to look into the possibilities. Maybe the fact that I never went to college helped me, but I never questioned my ability to teach her. What could she possibly need to learn that I was incapable of learning too? She was so tired at the end of the day in 1st Grade. It took so much out of her. She loved school, but she seemed to be stressed out by the teacher pleasing that school took.
In Kindergarten she would come home with homework that instructed her to write a number several times across the page and then it would tell her to draw something that number of times. I have a vivid memory of the number 12 and the 12 lady bugs she had to draw. There were so many tears. The lady bugs were not perfect and she loved her teacher. How could she turn in a project that was not perfect? That's when the light bulb went off in my head. She didn't have a clue what this lesson was about. The purpose was to learn the number 12. She thought it was an art project. My heart broke for her and the wheels began to turn.
I spent most of her 1st Grade year starting a business and planning for homeschooling. Regarding the starting a business - again, had I been to college I would have learned that one does not just start a business. There is so much more to it than that - business plans, marketing plans, licensing, capitol, etc. Had I know what I should have I would have never done it. In retrospect, my lack of education served me better than an education would. I had no fear of failure, because I didn't realize I was expected to fail. What I learned over that year - her 1st grade of school and my first year of business was that God gave me the ability and the rights to pursue our dreams.
What did I hope to teach my child through my parenting and as her teacher? My goal for both of us was to take all those labels that signal probable failure or at least disadvantage and roar past them on the road to a life of our own design. A single unwed mother with a an only child abandoned by one parent. According to the statistics, we would be on a road of government entitlements and public school and daycare and a safe job with good benefits. In short, a life of mediocrity and merely surviving.
On behalf of both of us, I chose freedom. And we have taken full advantage of our life outside the box the world expected us to live in. If that still doesn't make my politics clear, this is it: I need just enough government in my life to keep our world safe. Beyond that, we're fine on our own.
|With one of the artisans at Roanoke Island Festival Park. Manteo, NC|
|Riding her first horse at Cacapon State Park. Berkeley Springs, WV|
|Sharing a birthday with Thomas Jefferson at Monticello. Charlottesville, VA|
|Snake handling with the naturalist at Cacapon State Park|