At 7:00 a.m. on September 6th, 2012, I woke up to my new schedule, butterflies in my stomach, lists of to-do’s racing through my head…
It was 2 hours until schooltime and I had a lot of juggling to do to pull off our first day of homeschool in the manner I had dreamed of for months and months.
How was I going to get everything done in an orderly fashion? We were used to just puttering through the day until naptime, doing a little of this, a little of that…
What in the world was I going to do with Baby Betsie? After months of eating every non-edible object in sight, she had started to become trustworthy again…only to learn how to climb. Nothing is safe from her reach now, and most of it still goes in her mouth after she scales the table to fetch it.
And, most importantly…when would I find time to blog? (answer: well past my bedtime).
But this was no time for second-guessing. We had much to accomplish, me and my Mister, and even if the day was kind to us and went by slowly, Gideon was too excited to be put off for long. With a 9:00 a.m. deadline, I bathed, I groomed, I drank my coffee, I read my Bible and prayed, I led the kids through their new schedule, I made the bed, I made breakfast, and, sending the children upstairs with Mr. Gore to tidy up their room, I put the last finishing touches to my wardrobe and to our schoolroom. Straightening the large round rug in the middle of the room with my toe, I looked at my domain, glistening and gleaming from the overhaul it had received earlier that week, the smell of crayons and chalk feeding my enthusiasm….
I took a deep breath.
It was time.
Throwing my heavy bathrobe over my clothes, I tightly cinched it with a sash and called for Mr. Gore and Gideon to come downstairs (while Miss Sunday was left to “baby-sit” Betsie in the Betsie-proofed nursery).
Gideon was all smiles as he came down the stairs – he had been waiting for this day as expectantly as I had. I fussed over him and told him to stand with Papa for a first-day-of-school picture…
And then I began to reveal the plan that I had envisioned over and over again in the past months…
“Okay, Gid! Go grab your backpack and put on some shoes.” I said.
“Where am I going?” he asked, confused.
“To school!” I answered.
“But I am at school!” he laughed.
“Nope…not yet,” I replied, my heart doing crazy hyper things in my chest. This was the moment I had been most looking forward to, more than the party, more than the schoolday, more than anything…
We went on to explain to Gideon that, after telling us goodbye, he needed to go out the back door, walk through the side yard, go to the front door and knock. Then he would be at school.
His expression was priceless, and I knew that we had hit the jackpot with this idea. The novelty and fun of this adventure resonated so deeply with our little 5-year old boy.
After gathering his things, he told his Papa goodbye, but before he turned to me, he said “Oh! I need an apple to give to my teacher!!”
This child is truly mine, for that was the final detail to our day that I had completely forgotten. A red, shiny apple lay drying next to the kitchen sink, forgotten in my excitement. Me and Gideon may have many faults, but we are very faithful to the roles we choose to play…
Apple in hand, he turned to me where I stood beside the backdoor, a vision in white terrycloth. I knelt down beside him, and, licking my finger, began to scrub at the remnants of cinnamon toast now stuck to his face…
I took his face in my hands, and memorized him, kissing him, hugging him, and telling him all the things Mamas of Kindergarteners get to tell their children: “I love you!” “Be a good boy for your teacher!” “I hope you have fun at school!”
He hugged me back, his smile of wonder now a permanent fixture on his face, and Mr. Gore and I waved at him as he began his solitary walk to his first day of school.
I shut the door, the old-fashioned shop bell we bought at Victorian Trading Co. jangling above me.
It was showtime.
I untied my robe and dropped it, revealing the “teacher” dress I had ironed the night before, an Anthropologie gem my Mom had bought for me last Spring with a little bumblebee print, topped with a black cotton cardigan. Slipping on my t-strap wedges, I ran on tipey-toes through the kitchen, letting down my hair as I ran. I couldn’t stop giggling and suspected that I was smiling like a 5-year old at Christmastime (yikes…I was right).
Mr. Gore and I followed Gideon’s progress by the office (schoolroom) windows, and within seconds, I saw his shadow pass by the living room window, followed by a little knock.
Mr. Gore got into position with the video camera, this time facing the front door rather than the back.
Smoothing my hair one last time, I crossed over the entry rug and opened the door. Gideon looked up at me, dazed, his smile somehow huger than it was when I had last seen him…
“How did you DO that?!” he asked in awe.
“I’m your teacher now!” I said, laughing. “Welcome to your new school.”
“But this is my home!” he laughed.
“Nope. This is school now…” I said, my smile matching his as I scrubbed his hair and touched his little face once more. I was dying to scoop him up and hug the living daylights out of him.
“This is for you!” he said, holding out his apple. Laughing, I accepted it, sealing this new phase of our relationship with the most timeless token of scholarly affection known to teachers.
We posed for a school picture, my student and me, our first of hopefully many. Whether the sheen of tears in my eyes is from laughter or sentimentality, I’m not sure…but probably both.
and with that, our Home Academy was finally in session.
I shared the following later that night on facebook:
Gid was hilarious today and somehow managed to be the class clown in a class of ONE. Public Schools…you should thank me for keeping this one at home.
But really, I’m the one who is thankful. I will admit that I have broken down into tears several times in the past week (tears of frustration and doubt this time rather than sentimentality or laughter), but if homeschooling provides memories of God’s grace like the one above, then I am positive…
we’re going to do just fine.