Home Education Magazine
January-February 2001 - Articles
"So, What Do You Do?"- Lisa Bugg
We were seating ourselves around the table in a small German restaurant on the local military post. The waitress was taking our drink and appetizer orders. Greetings were being exchanged, because Ed, who works with my husband, had a new girlfriend. Just as the waitress brought our tea, I was faced with the first question of the evening. Ed 's new girlfriend knew everyone at the table but me, since I was the only one who had not worked at her company. Logically, and innocently, she asked, "So, what do you do?"
My mind raced. Just what is it that I do? I could feel my smugly employed-for-money husband chuckle to himself. It was one of those "this is going to be fun to watch" chuckles.
It isn't that I have a hard time explaining homeschooling or the many other choices I make in how I spend my time. It's that the question's deeper meaning always jumps out at me and I never know how to answer. Just what are we doing when we homeschool/unschool or homebirth or make individual decisions about vaccinations or... Just what are we doing out here on this newly blazed path?
By homeschooling my daughters, I am giving them room to develop into young women who do not know that math and science are still considered boy subjects. I have daughters who, during their young lives, are completely unaware of what it means to be graded and judged on what they wear. They think nothing of taking months to master a skill or, conversely, figuring something out in an afternoon. Never will the idea that "this is the way it's always been done" sit well with these two young women, for they know in their bones there are other ways to do everything. They have spent their young lives thinking for themselves. I can't wait to for the time when thousands of homeschooled young women begin to move out into the adult world. We should be in store for some wonderful changes.
My sons are unaware that late reading is a cause for concern. They are busy figuring out some other part of the world. Reading will come to them when they are ready. They have no idea that "big boys don't cry." All of their emotions are fully functioning, thank you very much. My father-in-law wanted me to send them to school so they would "learn how to fight." What he meant was that they should find their place in the pecking order. My sons are unaware there is a pecking order, much less that they should have a place in it. It is my prayer that, when they become men, they will see the damage a pecking order does to a society that needs all the creativity it can find to survive.
How do I explain that by raising children in the manner I have, I have shifted the matrix from which these children work, thus changing the world? I have contributed to the re-evolution of my own culture.
I could answer her with something which hints at the things taking place for my children, but my work goes beyond that. When a distraught parent calls and asks about homeschooling, I offer a vision of lives lived in the matrix my children take for granted. When I hear story after story of 6 year olds needing Ritalin, or of young boys being shamed for not reading, I ask those parents, "Just what would you be doing if you accept what you are being told?" When asked if homeschooled children are successful, I always ask the questioner to define success. I scare a few people. I make a few others angry. But more often than not, I plant seeds. Re-evolutionary seeds that will sustain the future growth of a changed society. In reading the work of Carol Ochs, I came across these words: "We need to acknowledge that we fear freedom; that we are drawn to it, but resist our creative process. Freedom entails change, standing alone, taking responsibility; and all of them frighten us. We must recognize the extent to which we - each of us - have created our own world of meaning, our own reality."
I realized that this is what I do. I acknowledge the fear of freedom. I urge, expect, and sometimes demand that people take responsibility and stand alone. I pray that we create a new reality, one that does not include shaming children for not reading on time, for not memorizing obscure facts and parroting them back on demand. I have created my own world and I welcome every passerby to come visit with me, even if just for a brief moment. I'm intent on shifting the matrix. I'm a revolutionary.
I finally come back to the present and time returns to normal. I meet the new girlfriend's eyes and make a quick decision. I manage to mumble that I stay home with my children. My smug, "I work for money" husband lets out the last breath of his chuckle. I sense his disappointment. I sigh. Discretion is the better part of valor, even for a freedom fighter such as myself.
Well, that's what I do. What do you do?
(c) 2001, Lisa Bugg
January-February 2001 Issue
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