I remember asking my parents about how many years I would have to go to school.
They were always reticent to answer…saying that after elementary school was middle school, and then more levels of school–junior high, highschool, etc. I felt so frustrated, and so eager to grow up and call my own shots properly.
I must have pestered them pretty hard about it, because they 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.
Still, I made no secret of the fact that I hated school–and this baffled my parents.
They said they would have cherished the opportuinty to not feel “slow” or behind in school, and told me often how grateful I should be that school was easy for me. I didn’t agree.
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!
Surely, my parents had made a mistake, because here, right up the street was PROOF! A family whose child didn’t go to school–and it was legal, it was allowed!
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 and dismay 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 since Kindergarten–that I was bored to tears and hated it!
I felt deeply betrayed– this was a turning point in my 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 them 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 then 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 freedom.
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.
I felt so trapped and frustrated, and my parents couldn’t understand why.
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.
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 “for my own good”
I found out about dropping out of highschool soon enough–and you can bet I jumped at that chance!
Of course, that was 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.