I've been careful not to involve too many outside organizations in my 'formal' on-line personality. To my knowledge everyone in my life has been supportive of this whole deal... but when it comes to business, it's best to err on the side of privacy.
Sometimes people get confused when I say that The Boy 'goes to school' and yet we homeschool. We *do* homeschool - we purchase a full year's curriculum from a store online and then in addition to that The Boy attends classes at a 'school' which is really more like a college for kids ages 5 - 18.
There are all kinds of classes everything from Art to Chemistry to classes on all things Hogwarts. The Boy takes a Lego builders class, a Maths class and a social 'Second Grade' class. This class is set up to be a shorter 'school day' - with snacks and recess and kids his age to give him the social aspect, as well as some learning, like he would get if he were at public school. Only... it's a bit of a different, more liberal and open environment because all the kids are fellow homeschoolers.
The Boy LOVES the school. He loves his friends and his teachers - and they all seem to adore him, which has been *great* with everything he's been through.
I started teaching Graphic Design there last year and, though in the past it's a class that starts off strong and fades out by the end of the year, *MY* class was full and had extra students bringing in their laptops to take my class. Saweeeeet.
This year I teach Graphic Design and Photography - and BOTH are full. In fact, my photography class has kids coming in from the halls and sitting on the floor (there aren't any chairs left) - and kids doing the 'homework' even thought they aren't in my class and it's not a requirement.
That's truly the basic premise being homeschool philosophy that you don't need to force a child to learn, but they will *choose* to learn when they see something they want to know more about. Thus far I have found that to be true for The Boy and for all my students.
My students are kind and driven and focused.... and goofy and talkative and funny..... they are often especially when times were so hard last Spring - the biggest light in my week.
Last year, our final term had just started when I found out about El Capitan, and I would have to plaster on a smile and say nothing to my students about what was happening in my life - not let my sorrow and sadness bleed into our classroom .... which was really, really hard.
At the end of each term many students will bring cards or candy or 'thank you' gifts for the teachers. I usually get cookies and a few cards..... but there was one student, in the book he's called Everett - and at the end our of class he said, "I have a gift for you", and he took me by the hand walked me down the hall.
He pulled up a chair, sat me down, and then he sat at the school upright piano and played Journey's 'Don't Stop Believin'. I *almost* couldn't control my tears.
Everett is *amazingly* talented and plays with a Portland orchestra. He's very.... emotionally in-tune with people and his surroundings - he always has a big hug for me and always seems to know my mood even if I haven't spoken. He's like this with his peers as well.... I often wonder if The Boy will grow up to be much like him.
This year he came in a few weeks ago and played me "Tiny Dancer" on you tube, which I told him was one of my favorite songs ever. So he returned the following week, dragged me and a few girl from class down the hall - and played us Tiny Dancer. Flawlessly.
He is amazing.
Then there's my own little 'Alice' - she and I share a mutual love of allll things Twilight and her Mom let me take her to the midnight showing of Breaking Dawn Part ii - and out for a fun day in St. Helens to see all the film locations. She's this amazingly funny girl with a wit and a mind and tongue *almost* as funny and quick at mine... which is awesome.
Last week, one of my girls - Sacha - is this brilliant artist and I asked her to draw something on the whiteboard - so in three minutes she dashed up this little number above. AH fucking MAZING. And then she added the bubble and wrote the message.
As a Mom, it's a wonderful thing to teach your child something new. You can see their eyes light up and their minds turning over more questions.... I love being a Mom. It's simply the very bestest job I've ever had.... until I started teaching.
These students (and their parents) are..... mind-blowingly amazing. They are articulate and smart and funny and sassy.... and *caring*. Raised and educated in places where they are emotionally safe has encouraged them to be these strong and open young adults who speak their minds and share their talent with unabashed confidence.
The traditional social lines that are usually drawn between 'students' and 'teachers' are smudged just slightly but in the most wonderful of ways. I know that they like their class - and see as how more and more of them pile into my photography class from the hallways: they seem to like me.
However, what they don't understand is how much I learn and benefit from them. They don't know how much they inspire me - not only as a teacher, but as a Mom and as a person. There are so many days when I have entered that room feeling somewhat overwhelmed by things going on in our lives - and yet after two hours with these kids.... I leave feeling hopeful and re-energized.
I'm not saying that kids like these don't exist in other schools... I'm sure they do. But, in this school they are everywhere.... and it's humbling.
I have students in my photography class who are *way* ahead of where I was several years into my career - they are blowing me away with their attention to detail and willingness to learn. Their images are nothing short of stunning...
I know that every child shines... by my kids - these kids - they SPARKLE.
Being around them makes me a better person and a better Mom and reminds me all the time why we chose to homeschool The Boy. It's a reminder that may be he'll be a little behind in Maths or whatever - but he'll be *Ahead* in soooooo many other facets of his eduation and personal development that it'll be worth a bit of catch-up when it's needed.
Because this amazingwonderfulawesome group of kids is between the ages of 12 and 14.
These are middle school kids..... playing Tiny Dancer for me on days when I'm feeling sad and bringing me more joy than I could have ever known at times in my life when it seemed like only sadness was around.
And then I'm grateful.... grateful that in the face of everything that has happened, I haven't changed, I haven't allowed anger and bitter resentment to change me or change my course. I've continued to make the choices and decisions I would have otherwise made.... and go fucking thing because several of these kids and their parents READ this blog. lololol
Clearly though... they are aware of my fondness for fbombs.
Thank f*ck for that. hahahahaha
One of the parents recently pulled me aside and told me that their child saw me on the news in the summer, they found the site and the sign and they both read The Blog. At first, she said, they were a bit concerned about the mature nature of what was happening in my life and wondered if they should keep the child from reading The Blog, so as not to expose them to nastiness or adult things and such. In the end, they let them keep reading.
She had pulled me aside to say that while she understands I make my own choices for my own, personal reasons, and that I have written several times about having to answer to my own children in twenty years time - she said to me,
"What you fail to understand if that you are answering to my child right now. They trust you, they look to you, in the classroom setting - as someone to listen to and learn from."
and... I'll be honest... my stomach sunk just a little because I wasn't sure what was coming next..... lololol
"And while we thought at first we should limit their exposure to your personal life, in the end, I'm glad we didn't. What our child has seen is someone faced with deception and betrayal, but who stayed the course of doing what they thought was right. They saw you using humor in your real life and your 'online life' and now my child see's someone who faced troubled waters but rowed on through with honesty and truth and patience."
Um...... ok I think?
She finished by saying this....."Now I'm not sure where they have learned the most, by being your student, or your 'friend' and watching you live this tragedy. Either way, those are life lessons I don't know how to have taught them and I'm grateful that you set the example you have because the lessons that were learned are important for your children and mine."
And then I bawled like a damn baby.
Big fat tears... big ole' ugly cry. lololol
I'm such a freakin' train-wreck sometimes... how can I be teaching *anyone* anything? ... seriously?!?!?!
But, at the same time, I've ever more grateful that I haven't detoured from me, because while it never occurred to me that young people so close to me would be watching.
Phew... glad I didn't f*ck that up.
Mother, "scorned wife", photographer, designer, potential blog writer and recent guest on The View.... life's been pretty crazy as of late - crazybeautiful that is!
You can see some of Elle's photography at: