January 20, 1998
There are a lot of headaches that one must deal with to be an unschooler. For eighteen years, my parents or myself have had to answer continual questions on everything from my social development to my ability to get a Real Job. And yet, despite all the challenges I wouldn’t trade these eighteen years for anything in the world. Today was one of those days that reminded me of that...
My alarm woke me sharply at six-thirty, and although I didn’t want to get up quite yet, I knew it would be worth it. My friend Poldi (a homeschooling mom who lives around the corner) and I take walks together most mornings, and even though it’s hard to motivate myself to get up when it’s still dark, it helps when I think to myself, “Poldi is getting up too, and I can’t be late...”
So out into the cold I went, down the quiet street, and saw the sun peeking through the gray clouds. The sky turned pink just as I reached Poldi’s door, making all the effort to get up worth it. Poldi is from Austria, and I find it fascinating to talk with her. She reads a lot, has strong opinions on what she reads, and is not afraid to share them with me. Our walks go by quickly, as we pass through the not-yet-smoggy New Jersey morning. We had a minor incident with mud today, since the rains have turned the path in the park to one big puddle. But, laughing, we squished through the brown mess, and ended up on the other side of the puddle none the worse for wear. We always see school buses picking kids up as we finish our walk. We watch sadly, as kids are herded onto the bus, ready to spend a day indoors even if it’s sunny out...
I burst into the house just as everyone else was getting up, which is always a good feeling! April (11), Loren (5), Ruth (my mom) and I sat in the living room, talking, and I looked at the clock. It was almost nine, and I saw my peers outside the window on their way to school around the corner. After the clock, my eyes glanced at the scene before me: Loren ensconced on Ruth’s lap, April lounging on the red easy chair, myself on the floor at her feet, Matthew (8) cooking pancakes in the kitchen. A wave of thankfulness came over me, that I have this time with my family. Of course we get sick and tired of each other sometimes, but being home in an unregulated pattern makes it possible for me to catch these special times, when everyone is in harmony.
At 9:30, Lori came to pick April and me up to go to Border’s Books. Lori is our friend who lives around the corner, and she is helping me to learn Spanish for my upcoming bike trip through Europe (in September). Today, my first assignment, is to get a dictionary and some tapes. Border’s is huge and I know I could spend hours in there, but Lori has an appointment at 11:00 and we have to leave. But before we do, I run into the music section and pick up a CD of “Helen Reddy’s Greatest Hits.” There’s a song on it, “I am Woman,” which I just heard the other day and love. April and I are planning to choreograph a dance to it.
When we get home, April and I decide we don’t want to wait to dance, and so the living room is cleared of its furnishings. (There still isn’t enough room, but we are used to dodging the lampshade and several chairs.) Helen Reddy’s voice comes out of the speakers, April and I start to try different moves, and immediately we start arguing. It always happens, whenever we do a dance together, but we know how to work through it and after about an hour we begin to make some progress. “I like that movement!” we say simultaneously, and we smile at each other--peace is restored. By the end of two hours, we have choreographed a third of the song, and it’s time to move on to our art class.
Every Tuesday afternoon, April and I “do art” together. This particular afternoon, Ruth has to take Matthew to the dentist, and so she leaves us with Loren and his friend Raffi (6) while she’s gone. The boys are busy in the next room, and April and I decide on a project: we’re going to do an “installation.” We look around the living room, and decide that the wide doorway needs some decoration... So for the next two hours, we ransack my collage box, creating a 3-dimensional piece of art using paper, string, leaves, ribbon, and lots of scotch tape. Raffi and Loren come in every so often; they tell us they are making valentines. “Look at this one!” Loren laughs. “I cut it wrong, and so it turned into a circle!”
At four o’clock, Art Class ends. We’re done with the installation, name it “The Archway,” and I go upstairs for my first self-taught Spanish lesson. To my surprise, I’m enjoying Spanish grammar! I think it has to do with the fact that I really want to learn it, and as I conjugate verbs I think of the bike trip next fall. I imagine Emily and Erica and I beginning a conversation with someone we’ve never met, in a language in which I can now only say “Hi! How are you? My name’s Sara...” I attack the lesson with increased enthusiasm.
My mom and I have tickets to a play at Crossroads Theatre after dinner. Crossroads is a professional African-American theatre in new Brunswick, the city right across the bridge from where I live. It’s been there for twenty years, but only last month (when we discovered that their shows have previews with relatively cheap tickets) did we go to see a play for the first time. I was great, and so we come back for more.
The play is called Spirit North and it is a world premiere. Written after the OJ Simpson trials, it examines the controversial subjects of race and the US justice system... As the lights went down, we settled in for a long evening. In my opinion, it was very well done, but it could have been more powerful if the first act had been condensed so the second act could have come sooner! I liked it a lot though. Also, a night alone with Mom is such a treat!