that one time I thought I'd get to be homeschooled

I remember asking my parents how many years I would have to go to school, when I was little.

They were always reticent to answer...saying that after elementary school was middle school, and then more levels of school--junior high, high school, etc.

Before I started Kindergarden, I remember looking out the car window at the drab building that my mother said would be my new school, and knowing, with dread in my heart, that I would not enjoy it.

This was of course passed off as me being dramatic, but even then, I hated the idea of being standardized, shaped-to-fit into someone else’s idea of who I should become.

At 5 years old, I retained a deep awareness of who I was and what was for me…and I knew that school would seek to destroy my intuitive connection to myself, even if I lacked the words to describe it adequately.

I felt so frustrated, and so eager to grow up and call my own shots properly.

I must have pestered my parents pretty hard about it, because they finally told me all kids had to go to school, that not going to school was illegal and they'd get thrown in jail, end of story.

FINE.

Still, I made no secret of the fact that I hated school--and this utterly baffled my parents.

They told me often how grateful I should be that school was easy for me, that I was easily the top of my class without trying.

They said they would have cherished the opportuinty to not feel “slow” or behind in school.

I didn't agree, but as a child - there was nothing I could do about it without invoking even more unpleasant consequences.

I consoled myself with the fact that it made my parents so happy to see me jumping through academic hoops, and tried not to think too much about What The Point of Hoop-Jumping Was.

When I was ten years old, a new girl moved into our neighborhood.

We got to know each other, and when I asked her if she knew what class she’d be in at school, she told me she was HOMESCHOOLED.

I was absolutely astounded, and thrilled!

Homeschooling wasn’t illegal at all, and we even had a new neighbor that could verify this fact.

Surely, my parents were misinformed, because here, right up the street was a family whose child didn’t go to school--and it seemed to be working just fine for them.

I remember actually cutting our visit short, after talking to her mom a bit, to get the real scoop--was she telling the truth? She REALLY didn’t have to go to school?

I left her house early because I was so eager to get back and tell my parents this life-changing news, that I could stay home and learn instead of going to school!

I was sure, 100% SURE they’d be thrilled to hear that, and would take me out at once.

I could absolutely taste freedom, on that short bike ride home.

Needless to say, they didn’t recieve my news at all in the way that I expected.

They reacted as if it was incidental news, instead of life-altering amazement!

They also looked slightly uncomfortable, and I realized with horror that it was because they’d been caught in a lie.

They really, truly thought that the school-people knew what was best for me, in spite of what I’d been telling them for years--that I was bored to tears and hated it!

I felt deeply betrayed--and this was a turning point in my young mind.

I swore silently that day, that if I ever had kids, that they would never have to go to school.

That I would do whatever it took to let them have a choice about it.

I asked my parents how old people were when they finished highschool--and they said 18….but then you have to go to college, and that could be four years, or six, or even eight, depending on what you wanted to do in college.

I determined that I would do whatever type of college I could be done with in the shortest amount of time, so I could get back to doing what I really wanted to do.

They reminded me that people have to have jobs to survive in the world, after college.

That even after college, there was no such thing as the freedom I expected.

This was just how life was - you spent the majority of your waking hours doing stuff you didn't like, for reasons that weren't your own--and that the best thing to do was to suck it up and get used to it.

Eventually it dawned on me that if the government considers you a legal adult at 18, then nobody could make you go to college at all.

I started thinking about how to move out around age 14.

I felt so trapped and frustrated by the relentless grind of modern life, and my parents never could understand why.

Wasn’t there ANY way to pursue your own interests as an adult and make a decent living, without hating the majority of your waking hours??

My parents thought they were helping me, by trying their hardest to get me to accept their view of the world—to accept that it’s just normal to spend your life waiting for fleeting moments of relief (vacations, bonus checks) between long, mind-numbing stretches of work.

They thought I needed to “be more realistic”. I have always known that it’s extremely unrealistic to live a life where misery is the mainstay.

Ironically, even though my parents never wanted me to move out young, that’s exactly the desire they created in me, due to how they treated me.

I found out about dropping out of highschool soon enough--and you can bet I jumped at that chance!

Now, that was perhaps also a lousy decision, but that's what happens when you feel like you're desperate and out of options - you leap without judgment or care.

Regardless, it worked out for me. If it’s not all right, it’s not the end.

Kids are often WAY smarter and more conscious than we parents give them credit for.

Listen to your kids, and don’t act like they’re broken and need fixing when they tell you the world you’re preparing them for is intolerable.

Instead, seek to empower them to do work that needs doing, to think about things that matter, and to forge a path that does not require them to abandon themselves to the machine of “normal”.

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