When Briton was about two and a half, Will and I moved our family to Dublin. We didn't have any real reason beyond the fact that we just wanted to go do something different. Will had quit his job, we were almost done fixing up a house and we were ready for a change (humm, this is sounding familiar, isn't it) We lived in a teeny tiny, I mean teeny tiny little apartment about a mile from the city center and threw ourselves into life there. It wasn't anything extraordinary, we cooked dinner and went to the park and the grocery store and the farmers market. Will went to work during the week and on the weekends we puttered around town or rented a car and took off into the countryside. So it wasn't really the actual place that had a profound impact on our life, although, in a way, it did that as well simply because it was very different from the life we had been leading, it was more the function of our family that I look back on with misty eyed envy.
We were a tight little unit, the three of us against the world. Ok, against stir craziness, rain and trying to figure out the quirks of living in a country that is not your own. And on top of that, Briton and I were a happy little team. We spent all day together. Taking the train to the beach or riding buses around town just because he loved to sit at the front window on the upper deck, or simply sitting in our little living room building train tracks or rolling cars down the stairs (he was heavy into vehicles at that point in time) All of my energy was focused on him. Well on Will as well when he came home, but my daytime energy wasn't split up between PTO and a house renovation and snippets or piles of work depending on the week and golf and ballet lessons and a never ending list of things to do. It was just him. And I loved it.
Now don't imagine that I didn't have friends, I did, many of them, and I had plenty of good grown up time, but I very purposely focused on my son during out 18 months in Ireland, and we both flourished because of it.
When we got home, life changed in so many ways. For one, we became four instead of three, happily. We had a house to renovate and had moved back to Portland so our days were full of both new and old friends, favorite haunts, new finds...it was a good life, I have nothing to complain about that time (well, there was that one time when the toilet that we had sitting on our curb ready to be hauled to the reuse center was picked up by some crazy lady who was mad at her boyfriend and threw it at his car. But other than that, life was pretty mellow there) and I also have no complaints about our life here in Charlottesville. It's lovely, truly, truly, lovely.
But there is a small part of my heart that has been hankering for that solid focus on my child, my children, for a while now. A part of me that, no matter how ridiculous it seems, has been wanting to chuck it all and just hug them as tightly as possible before they grow the rest of the way up. To close my eyes and hold them for weeks or months. Sappy, yes, impossible, surly. I mean, at some point we'd all need to go to the bathroom. And eat. But in my head, it would be just what the mommy needs.
When Will first applied to Columbia I asked him what on earth we would do if he got in. His first reaction was to say that he was sure he wouldn't (I had other opinions on that, however, and we all know who won that argument!) his second comment was something like "Well, maybe you could spend the year homeschooling them in the city. That would be pretty cool!"
Ha! HA HA HA!
I'd go stark raving mad.
HAHAHAHAHAHAHA! I went a little mad with laughing just at the mention of it.
For one thing. Well, I'm not a homeschooler. I was a public school teacher, homeschool is the opposite of what I believe (ok, I realize that's quite a strong statement, be patient with me, it's just what I thought at the time) and for another thing, I'D GO STARK RAVING MAD!!!!!
I laughed, maniacally, I'll admit. And put that thought straight out of my head. Along with any other thoughts about New York. Until the letter came saying that he had been accepted (I never doubted it! OK, I forgot it, but if I hadn't I wouldn't have doubted it)
And then I had a strange idea.
What if I homeschooled them in the city for a year? That would be pretty cool.
Trust me, I get the irony here. All I can say is that I had to come to it in my own time. But the more I thought about it, the more I liked, and then loved the idea. It was, albeit in a round about way, the thing that I had been wishing for in the back of my mind. Time, with no house to renovate, no duties, no commitment, to just be with my kids. To focus all of my energy, or at least a much larger portion of it, on them. And most espeically on Briton. Because I'll tell you the truth, I can see him slipping away a little every day. Easing into tweenhood and all that comes with that. I'm not ready to loose him to Justin Bieber hairdos and texting and eye rolling. I need just a little more time with my little boy. And this just might be my chance.
It's not set in stone. And I'm not a fool, I know very well that it won't be all sunshine and roses. It will stress our budget and will mean that I will have very little adult time. But it's worth it to me. And to Will. And, as a matter of fact, to the kids, who seem to think that it's a pretty neat idea.
Besides, if you were ever going to pull your kids out of school for a year and try to squeeze every bit of culture and interest and opportunity that the world around you has to offer, wouldn't a year in New York be the one to choose?
So now I am, in the midst of packing and fixing and primping the house and making brownies for the bake sale and supervising homework, planning and researching this whole homeschool thing. I've been reading unschooling books (yes, there is such a thing), flipping through curriculum files and dreaming up all sorts of projects that you could never do with a whole class but could pull off with just two. Feel free to tell me how crazy I am, or to offer advice (I'd love to hear from other homeschoolers, or unschoolers, about their experiences). As I said, it's not set in stone, but you know, I kind of can't wait to get started.