So, we are drawing to the end of our endless days of summer boredom homeschooling. If you asked me to summarize the last four months I would probably gaze at you slack-jawed with incomprehension, and struggle to string together a sentence of sensible words.

A couple of days ago I took the two big girls off on a movie outing to farewell our relaxed and home-based life as they head off to school on Wednesday. On the way there I begin to prepare them for the sensitive and traumatic transition ahead of them as they adjust to the concept of leaving the nest so to speak, after 4 months of being at home.

I turn down the stereo and launch into "Kind (and misjudged) Mothering Episode Number 45298793459873445487".
"So my Girlies, it's the end of our time together huh?" I say softly, aware of the pangs of loss and regret that will hit in earnest in a few days as they connect once more with a world beyond the borders of our home, but wanting to give them a chance to grieve and talk about the change.

"Thank Goodness!" they yell. "At last!" Whoops of excitement and relief fill the car. "I can't wait!"

The little darlings.

If only they knew. My knuckles whitened on the steering wheel and I gulped at how this whole parenting lark is so far beyond the confines of my control.

In all honesty, it hasn't really been homeschooling as we knew pretty early on in the piece that we would send them to the school on the corner, fortunately before I purchased curriculum. The closest we got to home-education was a flimsy flicker of Unschooling and letting the girls decipher their own interests. I reckon it is an amazing approach...especially if you have say, 4-12 kids and live on a Mediterranean island teeming with wildlife and a community of elderly and interested contributors to your offspring's journey into adulthood (a la Gerald Durrell). And have no television. They would rise to chase the sun and fall asleep with dust in their hair, exhausted and happy. Learning would be all around them in nature and creation, there for the taking.
It's safe to say that Gerald Durrell would have survived 3.5 seconds in our current environment of Camp Rock and toasted cheese, staid libraries offering trashy pre-teen paperbacks about preppy 'spies' or puppy fairies and toys that require no input from the imagination. The closest thing they come to wildlife is watching me change the flea collars on our fat, docile cats or the odd daddy long legs dancing in a corner.

I am digesting the fact that we are not providing the richness of experience that both Greg and I lived as children. On the other hand I am amazed at what fantastic opportunities they have ahead of them and therein see-saw the collision of my background and my children's future. I get sideswiped by the monumental task of moulding sweet natured children in a world of snipey greed and self centeredness. Just being young, unself-conscious kids is a non-existent trend. There are probably not many places left in the western world where children can just be children. Instead they are armed with information, technology-bristling experiences because we ourselves as adults are living super-charged turbo lives that have no space for simplistic time. I am guilty and confess to harbouring a sliver of bizarre pining for the weighty comfort of the third world. But in my defense, a childhood spent staring at ant tracks under an arc of endless African sky, breathing deep the acrid puff of woodsmoke on the wind each dusk, jumping to the crack and pop of msasa pods bursting to the dust and frolicking in blackjacks and long grass has resulted in my niggling suspicion that the streamlined environment we live in now is slickly reminiscent of a fish bowl. Sometimes the Nemo in me just wants to get back into the open sea.

Dawn  – (February 2, 2009 at 9:43 PM)  

You write so well! It will be fun to read of your girls' adventures at school, and that baby is still the most delicious child ever, I love the pictures.

Erin  – (February 3, 2009 at 8:34 AM)  

So Wednesday's the big day, huh?

Praying for your heart during this, Amy. Praying for those lovely, curious, and resilient learners you are raising.

Suburban Turmoil  – (March 1, 2009 at 1:41 PM)  

Okay, I've bookmarked you. Your pictures and your writing both are GORGEOUS. :) Best stuff I've read all day, for sure.

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