If we hadn’t emigrated I most certainly wouldn’t have homeschooled for the past 8 years. Neither would I have started my own touring theatre company but that’s a different blog.
That’s not to say that had we not dragged ourselves to the other side of the world I wouldn’t have dabbled in the waters of schooling without school. But you know what?.. truthfully…I don’t think I would have dared.
Back then, for a few years before we made the big move, in my early 30s, I was different. I wanted to be liked. Desperate to be liked. I wanted to please. I wanted to be accepted. I wanted to get my children into the ‘right’ school. I wanted a BA1 address, having such a postcode said to people that I lived not on the outskirts, but slap bang centre in the middle of the historic city of Bath in the UK. I wanted the children to say Barth and not Ba’ath. That way I might be able to pretend to strangers, through my well educated southern born children, that I myself was as well bred as those that drove to school in the Range Rover and whose parents had bequeathed them the solid silver cutlery set.
I am ashamed to say this.
I’m just going to say it.
For a few years, I was a snob. Not a snob in the sense that I thought others were below me. No, that’s one personality trait that I can’t take ownership of. But the snobbiness that comes from striving to be something or someone that you are not? Yes. Guilty. SHIT, SHiT Shit shit. It’s hard to admit that about yourself.
Keep going, Liz. Breathe.
So. Homeschooling back then? Noooo. In fact, NNNOOOOOOO with a capital N. Too hippy shitty…Too weirdy freaky…Too living on the canal boat with the kids wearing each other’s second-hand clothes ..too funny haircuts…Too BA4.
And then one morning, walking along the canal path (and let us be clear here, not walking because ‘eco is me and I have the time to walk my child to school’ No. Walking as in ‘I can’t get parked near the friggin’ school, so have to park in the pub car park down the road and sprint ‘ walking) Late as always to get Sonny to extra tuition maths class before school. You know the one. The one where you’re told in no uncertain terms that your kid is shit at maths because he is 7 and cant recite the 9 times table. That one.
When suddenly, on one of those new agey wooden bikes with no wheels, no hang on ,it had wheels ..it didn’t have pedals, that was it. On one of those pedaless things, was a little boy about the same age as Sonny. Riding across my very important and busy pathway. Nearly colliding into my sons very polished and very expensive Clarkes shoes.
Across from him a woman, coming out of her hand painted, beautiful houseboat. Herbs balanced along the side, housed in old French cooking pots. The remnants of last nights late night moonlit chat in the form of two empty wine glasses and half a bottle of red left at the little-wrought iron painted yellow table. She was picking out fir cones from a basket for her fire and she looked over at him, witnessing the near head-on .. she smiled.
There it was.
You know when people ask “so what made you want to homeschool?”
That was it.
Her life versus my life. Femme parfait, on her woodsmoke, smelling ‘bobbing on the water calmly’ abyss. Smiling. Living the good life in second-hand clothes. Tending to her herbs.Not a school notice pinned anywhere on her battered fridge.
Not even… wearing a watch.
Dragging my son along the towpath in order for him to chant his 9 times tables to an overtired, underpaid teacher aide. In order for me to get to work. In order for me to earn money. In order for me to pay off the credit card that we ran up taking our kids to Alton Towers (a totally overpriced theme park in the UK) In order to feel happy thank you very much. In order to buy some expensive makeup to cover my frown lines. In order to look as though ..I smiled.
Homeschooling. Take two.
Too free…Too real.. Too loads of time… Too always seem to be relaxed… Too confident..Too calm..Too free…
It all flashed through my suddenly clear mind as to if and how we could do it. (Not live on the houseboat with femme beautiful, no, I don’t like confined spaces.. herbs or no herbs) To just change our lives. Escape from this mess of tangled time tight schedules that we had somehow created. Spending more and more money to try and find a place in our lives that felt safe. Like the safe, you feel as a child when you know that your dinner will be ready at 5 no matter what.
This life that we were living.. this BA1 life..it just wasn’t authentic. This life that never allowed me to look for more than 5 minutes into the eyes of my children without saying “have you done your homework?”. I wanted to escape. I wanted to change. I wanted to homeschool. I wanted to smile like the pedal-less mother.
That was in March 2008. Within 9 months we were sitting on a plane headed for a country my husband had never even been to. The business? Gone. The BA1 house? Gone. The ever so prestigious primary school? Gone. The debt? Gone (most of it anyway).
My story of the hows and whens of emigrating is at least another 4 blogs long. It wasn’t easy, not by a long stretch. But.. when you see a life in front of you and that life is what you want..like us, you’ll go to the end of the earth to get it. And that’s what we did.
A one-way ticket for 4 to New Zealand, please.Throw away the scissors kids.. you’re growing your hair.