Tuesday, May 3, 2011

I Don't Want to Tango

Homeschooling in New Brunswick... what to expect? Ian visited the school principal of HCS (our kids go there) yesterday about homeschooling with very positive results. She gave us a number to call to get the ball rolling. So? We called. We left a message. We got a call back and at that point it went horribly wrong as far as I am concerned but I am a she-wolf with Wolverine claws when it comes to my kids.

Here is the story:

I am on the phone with the person who is in charge of the transitional requirements. She pushed public education hard. Very hard. It was aggravating. As if I don't know the ins and outs of it by now. One phone call to the district office and I was so angry I couldn't shake it. It was one of those deep anger tremors felt when your choices are being presented as something evil. Or other than good.

It is the law that children be educated. Obviously that is a good thing. I am not here to break any laws. I don't want to hinder my children's chances at a good life. A good life starts with a proper education.

My train of thought went whizzing around my head. Can I tell her what I am thinking? No. I shouldn't. I mustn't... I mustn't say...

Yes now. Yes. So?

This inane discussion rocked my consciousness. It shattered my confidence. My courage was weak and that made me feel afraid. How could I feel such a range of reactions in one short discussion? I reacted on the inside. I think I held it together on the outside. Well, as much as I ever do.

The lack of friendliness was the first thing I noticed. The second was that I was immediately put to the question: Why do you want to homeschool your children? Uh... I--ah--I.... was taken by surprise at the lack of comfort I was already experiencing. I don't even remember what my answers were. I remember a lot of silence on my end due to shock. I didn't expect to have to defend our decision. Stupid of me I guess.

***Bumbling idiot discusses education with menacing faceless voice...Bumbling idiot ends up flat on her face with nothing but gurgles spewing forth from her ignorant mouth.

It was the homeschool inquisition. I was floored. I realize there are steps to take but I felt threatened... maybe it was just me. Maybe it wasn't. Maybe she was being (______) because she could. Maybe that was in the fine print of her government contract (I am not going to make many friends this way).

And then old feelings bubbled up. Feelings of being flung back into the system's meat grinder despite an attempt to pull free. Like when my babies were born. A time stolen from me like so many others. Why? Because I spoke too softly. I am reluctant to confront face to face or voice to voice. I do not stand up for myself as strongly as I could. Or should (note to self: must change THAT).

I am not a coward. I am a human being. I like to handle things as gently as possible. Is that bad? I doubt it. And yet...

As the day progressed I found my balance again. I found something to cling to to take my mind off of it. To let myself cool off. The anger abated to a recurring sense of frustration. Talk it out. Talk it out. Talk it out.

This is what I know:

The minister of education must sign off on this venture for it to be legal. For him to sign off I must fill out forms the lady on the phone is supposed to send me--or so I have been lead to believe. There was something in my voice she deemed (______) and determined I needed two days to think about it. How very considerate.

I've thought about it for months. It's been a long time. I don't say that to her because I don't like defending my choices. I am so stubborn that way and it gets me nowhere.

I was insulted when she asked me if I realized what a huge time commitment homeschooling is. Duh? Isn't that half the point? To spend more time with your own children? Far be it from me to criticize other  moms and pops but we've gone without many freedoms so we could afford to live on one income... so I could be home with them. Is our system so flawed it is considered a detriment to our society to want to spend MORE time with my children? How backwards is this?

I want to educate my children myself because why? I want to spend more time with them. I want to travel with them, even if it is only a day trip now and again. I want to nurture their minds as my own children... not the proverbial bricks in the wall. Sounds a little Pink Floyd, eh? Good. Great, actually.

Why do I feel like I am about to fall far and hard from a horse on high?

Well, lady on the phone didn't know I had met the minister of education face to face one day and I did confront him that day and I put him to the question about the quality of the education in our schools and in New Brunswick he was of the opinion things were particularly flawed. And from my point of view I had to agree. Or--at least--I liked his ideas of reform. I liked the way he talked about the relationship he had with his own son. I liked that he wanted to give kids a chance to show their talents in a more natural way... up and out of the classroom. Coming up with ideas of their own. Exploring the world around them. Learning their first language with fluency before learning their second language. I remember those immersion classes. Chaos. Disarray. Not much learned and very little gained.

Kids thinking for themselves? Uh-oh. We all know what happened to Mr Lamrock don't we?

Most Canadians aren't reformers. Not really. New Brunswickers are least of all. We are a people still basking in the waning sunshine of community. So what? We are no more behind the times than a foreign country's tiny seaside province. Only elsewhere it is called romantic. Here is it considered shameful to enjoy a simple life.

As for me? I want the reform and the simple life. How avant-garde. Remember--there is American blood flowing through my veins. Then again, these election results are truly telling. Maybe we are gaining a little ground. Hope springs eternal.

We can already see the effects of the tide of industry. It started as trickle and now it's a full-blown billion dollar tidal wave. There is a school only steps away from the McCain's factory and whatever spews into the air over there.

But I still like it here. Change comes slowly. I am proud of my maritime heritage.

So what I have learned, the patchwork quilt of understanding I have obtained, leads me to believe that I am not a slave to a system and I am not on trial for my choices. It is better to not react. It is better to deal with things when my head is cool. Calmly. Confidently. Stand up. Stand firm.

I would have immediately won the battle (I assume) if I had said I want to homeschool for religious purposes. That would have ended it. I could have lied and ended it. Freedom of religion. As I think about it maybe it is for religious purposes. Maybe a form of devotion. I am devoted to my family.

One family under God. United Church of Coughlin.

I await the imminent phone call. Only I will be listening from another room when it comes. Ian will have to take the reins on this one or else I might end up in a bit of a bind... I might lose my cool and that wouldn't do at all.

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