The title of this post is mostly lifted from the title of an album by the San Francisco-based surf band the Mermen.
Sometimes, it takes a crisis to see what people's true colors are.
When Jason and I were first dating, we went on a two month trip to Australia and Fiji, and while we were in Fiji, there was a coup. It was ethnic, it was ugly, and frankly, having never seen a government collapse around me, I was pretty unsettled. The airports closed, the food supply altered radically due to the blockading of Fijian waters by New Zealand and Australia, and tempers and attitudes were fraying all around. And Jason handled it brilliantly. I knew at that point that he was a keeper, because if you can cope with armed gunmen in the streets with equanimity and aplomb, you can handle day-to-day dramas.
It says so in my bio, but just to make it clear, we're Californians. You know, California, where the huge drama about homeschooling being illegal just blew up, and up, and up some more? Yeah. Editorials, letters to the editor, blogs, websites, calls for action, calls for restraint, not a small amount of Chicken Little behavior.
The boys are still little, although this was to be the first year that we filed paperwork for Rowan. He'll be 6 in July, and so it's time. I've been pretty aggressive about letting people know that my kids are not in school, they're kids, and so most of the family is aware that this is The Big Year. And they know that we're homeschooling. So of course, when the media blitz happened... we heard about it.
Maybe I'm crazy. Maybe I just don't see things like everyone else... BWAHAHAHAHAHA! OK, maybe yes on both of those. But Jason and I just weren't worried. Concerned? Yes. Following the mayhem? Yes. Freaking out and making backup plans to leave the state? No.
So here's what keeps spinning through my head. People asked if we were running (we already live on a boat, so relocation is really just a matter of finding a weather window and a destination). People asked if we were going to just not file, stay under the radar. People asked if we were going to do all kinds of bizarre contortions to ensure that Rowan would remain homeschooled (sing it with me friends... he's just a kid, he's not in school yet, sigh)... but the suggested reactions all involved the underlying assumption that we were somehow doing something less than legal, shameful, something that implied that dodging, running, hiding, were expected reactions.
My friends, I've never been more tempted to go get t-shirts, bumper stickers, heck, a big ol banner to fly from the mainmast, that announce to the world "we're here, we homeschool, get used to it!" We have nothing to fear and no reason to cringe. If the Great State of California decided to criminalize homeschooling, we'd knuckle down for the fight, sure, but I don't see it happening. Just because it's become unusual in the last few generations doesn't mean it's shameful.
So thank you, to the judge in In re Rachel L.... you've finally inspired me to out myself and my family, to respond to this by reasserting my family's right to do what we're doing, because we can. Thanks for showing me who around me is really scared, and needs a bit more handholding. Thanks for showing me, again, that in California, a place where a citizen's right to access the beach is protected by law, a citizen's right to stand up and be proud of what they're doing is protected too.
Laureen is a writer, a professional editor, a scuba instructor, a beginning sailor, a traveler, and an obsessive researcher who's chiefly focused on, and delighted with, her husband Jason and her sons Rowan and Kestrel. She's a lifelong Californian, which lends a very distinctive spin to both her ideas and her politics, and she's discovered, in her peregrinations, that the world is far smaller yet far more fascinating than anyone gives it credit for being. She holds forth her opinions on that in her blog, The ElementalMom.