BJ, who’s a sixth-grader now, has been homeschooled since 3rd grade. Mia, my second-grader, has been homeschooled from the beginning.
A few weeks before the beginning of Mia’s kindergarten year I remember school supply shopping at Target and having panic attack on the backpack aisle. Was I doing the right thing? My daughter would never have a ‘first day of kindergarten’. Was I robbing her of a quintessential childhood milestone?
I flashed back to the first day of kindergarten for BJ. Memories of him dressed up in his first day of school clothes, spotless new tennis shoes, with his too-big-for-him backpack and matching monogrammed lunchbox, grinning and full of anticipation, flooded my mind. What an momentous day!
While cruising the aisle of Target practicing deep-breathing techniques and grabbing the things we’d need for our homeschool year, I made a call to one of my best friends. I needed her to talk me off the ledge, and since she’d homeschooled her kids off and on, I knew she would have sage advice. Or maybe she’d just tell me to buy extra Kleenex and to hit the liquor store on the way home.
I remember her asking me, why can’t she have a backback and lunchbox? And a new outfit? And the first day of school pictures?
Well, duh. We could do all of that. But was I shortchanging my girl? Taking something away that could never be replaced?
She told me that no, I was actually giving her a gift, and as the years have passed I’ve come to realize that her school experience has been a gift for both of us. So many memories we’ve share together that never would have occurred. And most importantly, she’s been able to learn the way that works for her. And to PLAY, and be creative, and get messy, and sleep in, and travel, and just be a kid. That is our reality and it is a DREAM.
I don’t really think much about the milestones we might have missed anymore, but I do treasure the ones we’ve created together.