I always wanted the blue one. Being a tomboy of sorts, I never wanted the girly colors. My mom would gather us in the living room every year, the day after Labor Day and she would give us our Back to School baskets. They always included slippers, pens, pencils, crayons, and color-coordinated items. The choices were the same every year: Red, Blue and Purple. Purple was the obvious choice for my sister who loved playing dress up, having tea parties, and pretending to be a princess. Purple made me gag. I liked climbing trees, arm wrestling with the boys, and have mud fights. So for me, blue was always my obvious pick. Except that it was my brothers obvious pick too. So year after year on our “Back to School” morning, we would fight over who got the blue stuff. And I usually convinced him to let me have it by giving him some of my cooler pencils as an incentive.
When I was 8 years old my parents pulled us all out of private school and decided to homeschool us. At that time homeschooling was absolutely unheard of in Connecticut and although they faced a lot of opposition, my parents stuck to their guns with their decision to homeschool us. People just didn’t get it, no matter how hard we tried to explain.
This week my parents sent their new kids back to school. I came over to take some pictures of them with their new backpacks and school supplies and I couldn’t help but think back to our “first day of school” every year. My mom always tried to make it as normal as possible for us, taking us shopping for new school clothes even though we just as easily could have stayed in our pajamas. And every year on the day after Labor Day she would make French toast for us before giving us those baskets. We would put on our new slippers as we sat down at our kitchen table, with a cool and crisp breeze blowing through the window, and we would start our schoolwork. Opening up book after book, lesson after lesson from curriculums by Abeka and Bob Jones until we were finished for the day. I loved going back to school, even if it just meant going back to sitting at my kitchen table because, for me, it meant the start of a season where I would grow and learn, develop and explore. More than any education my parents ever provided, they always encouraged us to do what we loved and what we were good at. So once our school work was finished for the day, whether that be by noon or 6PM, they let us then explore things that we were interested in.
So on this crisp morning, the day after Labor Day, I will sit at my desk wearing my new fuzzy slippers and thank my parents for teaching me the importance of doing things that I love. I could have gone through the routine of 12 years of school, 4 (or more!) years of college, and working a corporate 9-5 job. But instead, I took an entirely different path…and I am so happy that I did.
(yes, it’s true – my mom is not much taller than an 8 year old)