Monday, 9 November 2009

But what do I know? Gerald could secretly work for MI6.

Recently I left a comment on Jax's post.

To the effect that it's easy to confess I am followed by a giant iguana called Gerald. Much easier than rationally explaining the fears I have about the future, and which she and many other explain so well.

My fears are not whether Squirrel will fall out of that tree; nor whether Shark's desire to dive will be the death of her; nor whether Tiger's teenage years will wreak havoc on us with anorexia, bulimia and self-harming.

Those fears I put down to the normal range of anxieties pouring from the heart of motherhood. I may yet do self harming and substance abuse myself. Then I'll call it coping strategy.

My fears are outside that range. But admitting any fears beyond the conventional is a hazard though, isn't it?

It's worse in the world I inhabit. Let's call my world the one where our kids have education other than everyday 8-4 at school.

Some people hate people in my world. Even though the people in my world are not all granola eating hippies, knitting with their own hair, or living in communes. As I've said, some people in my world are engineers, scientists, drama practitioners, artists and health workers, but I won't get distracted by that here. Whatever we are, some people resent us, because they believe every child should be in school, and if we keep kids out of school, we are damaging those children, full stop.

So, as a home educator, passing any comment about anything is like holding out a stick which someone can grab and beat us with. At the first sign of vulnerability, like expressing fears, some very judgemental people leap at the chance to attack.

Horrible comments stick around. One commenter I recall, whose voice leapt off the page and stuck inside my head, burst out - probably from a discussion about How nice is your cushion cover? - that home educators are a load of smug bastards who think they own a moral high ground because they home educate.

I wasn't standing on any moral high ground when I looked. Swamp, maybe. I had a bloody exhausting day of hard work, a heavy sense of responsibility, a broken bank account, and no idea why my cushion covers were in the freezer. Despite it, I still think home education is worth the trauma, pain and misery. So maybe they're right about the label smug bastard.

But really, I'm feeling battered enough without attracting that kind of comment, so I'll say at this point that Gerald is a lovely blue green colour, likes to eat granola, and goes to sleep at night outside the kitchen door.

And I can confess my fears are not coming from my role as a parent, and not just for home educators. My fears come from my place as a citizen, and they are about what you are allowed to do, and be, as a parent.

Because I believe right now we're heading for a life where the law will make provision for every parent to be vetted or checked; where the right of state entry will be automatic to every home if you have a child of any age; where the right of a parent to make decisions about the upbringing of a child is increasingly fragile and within a whisper of being removed.

Now some folks can read those fears and say Grit is a nutcase. She is clearly followed by a giant spiny tailed iguana called Gerald. Voicing that sort of They've all got it in for me! attitude, she deserves to be suspect. With that mental condition, she is placing her vulnerable children at risk.

And who knows what will happen to Gerald then? He will be homeless, and he is not a bad sort when you get to know him.

All I can say in my defence, before the evil lords of power come to get Gerald, is that home educators have to be closer to the coal face when it comes to discussing the law, our legal rights, and the statements from local councils. We have to think carefully about our arguments; we have to take responsibility for our positions; we have to weigh up the pros and cons of any scheme, any help offered by any council, any statement made by anyone in power. We have to read the tons of stuff, from OFSTED, government, local authorities, advisers.

We simply have to be closer to it as a means of survival. Any day as a home educator we may be stopped by the police and by truancy officers. We may be challenged in the supermarket; or called upon to defend our decision in the park, or playground. We have to walk around the world knowing as best we can what rights and responsibilities we have and be prepared to argue for them at the drop of a hat.

That does not make us any more moral, nor better parents than anyone else. It just makes us aware.

Now excuse me. I have to go. I must bath the kids, and Gerald says when he snuggles down for the night, he wants the blue blankie, not the yellow. The yellow makes him itch.


Michelle said...

My "paranoic irrational" fears loomed larger over the past two days reading about the study that revealed how learning disabled parents are losing their babies to adoption. But it's good right? Because it all helps the adoption targets.

sharon said...

Too, too depressing for words Grit.

Thinking positive thoughts and sending them your way.

PS I think you are spoiling Gerald giving him a choice of blankies.

Maire said...

A home ed child was prevented from travelling to a home ed skating meet by a jobsworthy on Leicester station today.

You should be in school.

I'm home educated.

Then you should be at home!

Grit said...

i've been following these types of stories michelle; my last remaining hope comes from the fact that many keep appearing in the daily mail.

sharon, you are right. i shall make him have the yellow blankie tonight.

maire, i am speechless. but all the more determined to go out and pick school hours to do it!