We've been doing this thing for a good few years now and, despite what I said, the world hasn't ended.
This thing being the home education thing. And we have been through a few things now too, in pursuit of the home education thing. Some of them involving knocked out teeth, metal bars, head wounds, and a mermaid squatting on the toilet, but at least now I have got to that point where I can look back at those things and say, well that is maybe what this choice of life involves.
When we first started home education it felt very daring and rebellious and courageous, the sort of thing that good parents will do to protect their tender baby offspring, and maybe that is like fighting evil empires to rescue cute innocent rabbits with fluffy fur and big sad eyes.
But on those days when it all went horribly wrong and my hideous spawn knuckledragged their way through the day, grunting and yelling and thumping the shit out of each other, it felt like I was mentally and emotionally not cut out for this intensive life alongside them. On those days, home education is the equivalent to climbing a mountain naked with a cougar strapped to your back.
But then along comes a day, like today, when I feel I have some perspective on the matter. Maybe it is spring. Maybe it is the way the sun streaks through the window, and I can respond to that. I can look around me and see Shark is quietly reading and Squirrel is deep thinking, working out some maths, and Tiger is humming as she sits on the floor sewing a dismembered rabbit head to a plaque, and I can think, right, we are doing alright. This is alright. And now the sun is shining and the air breathes clean. I can look to the sunshine and say hey everyone, would you like to take a walk in the woods to find flowers and Spring things? Everyone gazes up and looks at Spring busting through the window and happily pulls on shoes and out we go.
It's as simple as that. We meet up with other parents and other kids and our helpful Parks people, and we run around in the sunshine and learn about ancient woodland and bluebells.
Yes, here I am living a life that I chose because I thought it was the right thing to do. But I have in many ways doubted my ability to withstand it. Some days it is the most difficult life I could have chosen: a life where the kids can strain me and drain me and hang me out to dry, a life which on a bad day can seem like the worst possible choice and the stupidest thing ever to have chosen; a life with humiliations, sacrifices, and the pressure to locate the yellow embroidery thread to stitch up a penguin flipper before Tiger smashes up the entire house.
But some days it is so right, because look out at that world. Yes, it has horrors and glories. There are woodlands, bluebells, and sunshine too. And I get to share it all with the people I love.