Friday was Princess' second day of school, and J-Man's third. I enjoyed the day with Tombliboo, as devastated as I was, and I started to see good things about school. For one thing, I had all my jobs done well before they got home- when 3pm rolled round, I was ready. I enjoyed being with Tombliboo, we went to the beach and played trains, and he helped me bake. The day went surprisingly quickly.
The kids came home bursting with school. J-Man had won a book for being the top student for the week- kind of ironic, since he hadn't been to school for 6 hours a day, 5 days a week for 5.5 years, had done no school work- just played, had fun and lived his life. Then again, dh realised perhaps it was like a bribe, since we had said a decision would be made by Monday. Princess won a book too, and then she was able to choose someone else to win yet another book- naturally she chose, J-Man.
J-Man was very sure he would be going back on Monday, Princess seemed non-comittal though J-Man badgered her about it at every turn. I hoped a couple of days at home would remind them how much fun it was with us. We played a game of Settlers of Catan (which we currently play around 3-4 times a week!). Tombliboo (2.75 yrs) likes to be the banker, though he eventually hordes all the cards, and takes them away to play with his trains. Part way through the game, I was dismayed to hear J-Man announce ,"I can't stand this- my brain isn't being used, and I need to do school work!" He ranted for a bit more, before going to his room to bring out his school maths book. This annoyed me enormously, since he seems to have done just fine with playing games for 10 years, and I said, "If you haven't been using your brain all this time, why are you top of your school class?"
The weekend was fun, and I thought- if school is how it is to be, then I guess we still have weekends, and I can make myself as available as possible for them after 3pm too. Maybe it won't be that bad...but it bugged me to think of our family being like everyone else's- outwardly...there was no way I was happy about losing them each day. I kept thinking about that saying, something like "Being a mother means that your heart forever beats outside your body"...which I hadn't really felt like before, until suddenly 2 of my children, the most important people in the world to me, were gone for 6 hours a day. In truth, and not to sound dramatic- just what I really thought. I felt like I did when I miscarried. An overwhelming sense of emptiness, and I wondered how I would ever really recover. And where did I fit now- not with radical unschoolers, the only place I really ever felt like I fitted...and certainly not with the school mums who were glad of the peace.
A (non-HE) few people told me it must be nice to have a break, but it wasn't. I got the feeling that there would be a whole bunch of people quite pleased this had happened.
After dinner Sunday night, we discussed what would happen in the morning. The kids knew they needed to make a decision about whether or not they would be enrolling in school, and I still hoped that while it looked certain they would- perhaps after a few weeks, or at least when we move to our new house, they would want to come home. Hoping like crazy that this wasn't permanent.
When dh asked, "So- would you like to go to school every day?", Princess immediately answered, "No- I'd rather stay at home." I was all ready to say, "No worries- but you can still be home-schooled again if you change your mind." I had to recover quickly, and ask her to repeat what she had said. She didn't want to go back? Really? 2 days was enough to see that while it was pretty fun, it wasn't preferable to home. Hallelujah!
Then to J-Man, who I realised was the one who was really keen. Princess had just been going along for the ride, and said that the only reason she decided to go was because J-Man wanted her to. And, yes- if he asked her to, she probably would jump off a bridge.
And, blow me down if he didn't say he would rather stay home too. He said, "I like school, but I see it's too much of a sacrifice- I would have have so much less time to be with my family and do the things I want to do if I wasn't home until 3:10pm each day." Oh boy! Is it true? Did my children just realise for themselves how school is inferior to home? With no interference from me, and seemingly a fair bit of encouragement from the school corner...and after only 2/3 days? WHOOPEE!
Suddenly the world seemed normal again...but I was still nervous they might change their minds...but then I was also pretty sure, now that we had been to hell and come out of it so quickly- that there was little chance they would go permanently. They can think for themselves, they can make informed decisions.
J-Man got upset (really upset) with a game he and Princess were playing and I held my breath. That had been the catalyst for his decision to try school. I waited to hear he had changed his mind and he would be tootling off again in the morning. But no, he went to his room for a break, and when I looked in on him, we chatted and his equilibrium was restored. He went back to the game, and I wondered how long I will hold my breath each time they argue over Lego....but then got on with my private (and texting) celebration.
My children would not be going to school in the morning. They would be home with me- and I wouldn't quickly forget what life without them was like. I would make sure to cherish them, and let them know how much I enjoyed their company, and themselves. And Monday rolled around, that's what I did.
The big kids joined us in our itty-bitty double bed for snuggles in the morning, and we all stayed there way longer than usual. It was a very happy day, an ordinary day really- nothing earth-shattering, nothing different at all really- just a normal ol' day, but everything was different for me.