Home Education Magazine
September-October 2001 - Articles and Columns
Questions and Answers - Laura Weldon
NO PARROTS HERE
Homeschooling would be easier if my children wanted
to learn about the same things that I happen to love.
Long ago I had the na•ve assumption that they
would naturally develop my passion for environmentalism,
muckraking journalism, anthropology, applied ethics,
messy art, alternative medicine and satire. I
knew these passions weren't genetic, my parents were
into playing bridge and visiting historical sites. But
I figured my children would absorb my fascination by
osmosis. Nope. More like reverse osmosis. They
seem to feel that just living with me is exposure enough
to those topics. More than enough.
I play tapes of protest songs and world music despite
their feigned death throes. I take them, alright,
drag them, to tiny art galleries, odd ethnic restaurants,
wildlife sanctuaries and community service projects.
They point out that they've never been to a video arcade
and on that basis alone could be considered culturally
deprived. I occasionally read periodicals aloud
hoping to discuss important issues with them, which
has caused them to say, "She's ranting again."
My grandiose art schemes, such as building a catapult
to fling paint onto huge canvases, are met with rolled
eyeballs. I only need to look serious a brief
moment before my daughter alerts her siblings, with
warnings like, "Oh no, mom's launching into another
sermon. I think she's on number 127, the Deeper
Meaning of Things." I concoct homemade tinctures
of herbal remedies, which admittedly aren't taste treats,
but aren't cause enough for them to call the kitchen
Mom's Evil Laboratory. You get the idea.
They are certainly their own people. They are
almost instinctively drawn to what I'm not. I
can almost hear the screech as my brain cells are continually
forced to expand to include their interests.
Several of them actually like organized activities
like scouts and 4-H. This requires meetings where
I have to sit in a folding chair and behave myself.
I prefer spontaneous, free form events, like "Hey,
lets paint a mural on that wall."
I hide it well, but secretly I'm squeamish. Naturally
they bring me snakes, toads, beetles, spiders, and even
slugs. They expect me to fawn over them. I
can only do a passable faux fawn.
I like safety precautions like helmets, seat belts
and peace accords. My 10-year-old son adores skateboards,
stunt biking and tree climbing. He plans to be
a pilot. He talks to me about airfoils and ailerons.
I'd only fly if I were being awarded the Nobel
Prize. Even then I'd probably ask if it could be delivered.
I'm a vegetarian. Naturally, my daughter is
smitten with dissecting. She wants to be a forensic
pathologist. Supportively, I've purchased poor
innocent creatures floating in formaldehyde, procured
eyeballs and hearts from the butcher shop, even taken
pictures of the gore she calls anatomy. She proudly
showed her grandmother the virtual autopsy web site.
My mother was intrigued. I restrained myself
from asking, "What happened to playing bridge?"
I have trouble with technical details. I even
require assistance getting film in and out of the camera.
I finally recognized this as an immutable fact
after indulging myself in a few temper tantrums over
broken film. Of course my oldest is a ham radio operator,
builds authentic model railroad layouts, fashions necessary
parts for our 1949 tractor out of steel and stuns his
boss into silence with his ability to fix highly exacting
equipment. When he was six he patiently explained to
me how to program the clock in our car. I forgot
what he said AS he was saying it.
I've been known to slip into situational ethics from
my pillar of universal truths at times, but I'm always
caught by my youngest. "Why do you talk about
cherishing all life if you want to get rid of the wasp
nest in the attic?" he'll say sweetly with seven-year-old
logic. "Why do you let the answering machine
get the phone if you are home? Isn't that like
lying?" Okay, maybe they are learning what I have
to say, but I wish they wouldn't use it against me.
Occasionally I'll get their grudging admiration for
silly feats, like my useless mental compendium of song
lyrics from the 70's or my willingness to sass authority
figures. But more and more often we find that
our interests intersect. I can't help but be awed
by the uniqueness of what they find fascinating, and
they can't help but understand what I thrive on. Best
of all, we laugh together.
Homeschooling would be easier if they parroted my
interests, but that would be indoctrination instead
of exploration. I'm glad they are their own people.
We all lean towards what helps us grow, like eager
plants inclining towards sunlight even if it shines
from different windows.
September-October 2001 - Articles and Columns
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