Thursday, 16 December 2010

Hey! I'm joining your society!

Confession time from a home educating mother.


Never. Not once! Hang on, I think in 2008 I bought a carton of chips from Burger King! Maybe that day was it. Shark is adamant she will never eat anything from a burger bar ever again. Squirrel says she's not eating there, so just try it. Tiger says, can she go home and have pasta?

Of course we've eaten from chip shops, yes. We are British. And Indian take aways, of course. Pizza? Certainly. Lots of cafes, too. But I'm told, they're not the same. Grit, a fast food burger bar is completely different.

Now this has secretly worried me. If you're a school-choosing parent, you won't be worried, even if your kids don't eat at McDonalds either. Because you're already normal. But me, I'm vulnerable to an accusation. That I've kept my kids away from school and I've kept them from doing what all other kids do in normal society. All kids eat at places like McDonalds, right?

Actually, it gets worse. I have another confession.

I have made Shark, Squirrel and Tiger visit McDonalds to look at the walls.

I've done it now. That is fuel. What is more un-normal than that?

I won't defend myself. All I can say, is that the walls in the Milton Keynes Shopping Centre branch of McDonalds are fantastic.

Go and look for yourself! The stone used there is Travertine. Delicate ripples, thousands of years old!

When we got there, I read how the rock was made; we drew ripples in notebooks, smoothed our hands over surfaces and felt how cool thousands of years feels; we wondered about chemical properties, hit the wall with our knuckles (the stone won) and we came away with ideas about why an architect might specify this rock as the most durable and decorative for facing walls and floors of shopping centres.

I know I get carried away. I can't help it. Rock is beautiful. Intricate and ancient. But don't think that I've ever studied geology. No. I just look it up on Wikipedia! I don't understand the half of it. I don't care. I love rock. And that's why I took the kids to the Milton Keynes branch of McDonalds, to communicate a love of rock, to stare at the walls, and dribble with love.

They stared at the rock too, traced their fingers along the exquisite lines, and loved it, just like me. It's my special treasure of that moment.

But it's also my humiliation. It's my vulnerability. Anyone with half a grudge against home ed gets to accuse me. Because I'm not a geology teacher and I didn't even take my kids to McDonalds to eat! Just a half-baked idea that we'll stare at walls? How weird and out of touch can home educators be?

I don't want to be vulnerable. So, quietly, without telling anyone, I made it my mission, that at the first available opportunity, my kids would eat at a fast food outlet. If not McDonalds, then something so similar, so cloned, that no one could say, 'Get you! Going to McDonalds to look at rock?' They would say, 'What do you think of the McDoubleMcBurgMcJuicyFry?' And my kids would reply, 'Hmmm. I've heard it's not as cool as the McTripleMcDog with extra Mcs'.

If my kids did that, then everyone would heave a big sigh of relief, because it would show that my kids are normal too. Phew!

Of course I have problems.

Like the vegetarian thing. And the way that Shark shouts 'I am never eating in a McDonalds! I would rather DIE!' She did that dramatically, with scowls and hand gestures and table thumping.

But this is important. I am resolved. This is our entry ticket to normal. So today, after the home ed ice skating group...

...we followed the Americans (I told Shark they made me do it) into a fast food outlet modelled on the McMc style. Where I ordered Three regular fries to go. (Yes, I admit, I needed help.)

Shark, Squirrel and Tiger, brought to this by peer pressure (I win again!) then hung around a playground, ate their McStyle chips from McStyle cartons, and declared them, 'Not as nice as Rocky's'.

And I feel pretty much invincible.