It’s always my hope that homeschooling — contrary to expectations — brings us closer to the “real world” and gives the kids more chances to do “real work.”
Of course the world of visiting grandparents or spending hours drawing is real, at least as real as the world of the desk. But what I look for is opportunities to participate in the wider world in some meaningful, uncanned way — something that hasn’t been cooked up “for kids.”
This is harder than you’d think — most people just don’t know what to do with a teenager who’s available in the middle of the day, other than ask them to babysit. (Which mine does, BTW . . .)In any case, we got a chance yesterday. Our parish has a commitment to “sacred arts,” meaning that we host multiple exhibits throughout the year. Next week the biggest one we’ve ever hosted will begin. There were crates on crates on crates to unpack, display hardware to assemble, and lots of signage to set up.
A man said “I have job for you” with some kind of European accent, handed us a screwdriver and a hex key, and put us to work. We spent two hours at the back of the church putting together signs, while a team of workmen hung giant paintings from iron bars along the sides of the sanctuary and the artist herself moved among us, giving further instructions. My daughter, who balks at unloading the dishwasher Every.Single.Day despite it being her job for the last several years, approached this fiddly task with delight and a surprising level of focus.I wish I had time to write the essays in my head about the impact of getting a behind the scenes look at the world of a working artist, not just for the aspiring teen artist but for non-artists who think that art just happens without skill or labor. I’d like to talk more about homeschooling as life, not just preparing for life.
But in reality I really want to avoid letting weeks go by before I post again, so that will have to keep percolating. Just take my word for it — we had an inspiring afternoon that made homeschool a teen seem a little less crazy. We fell into this little gig almost accidentally — surely there are more. I was so delighted with our good fortune and her good work that I only laughed when she told me that she “forgot” to order her massive Mint Condition Cooler as decaf. (And she bought it with her babysitting money.)