The big kids and I went to see "Fiddler on the Roof" at the Waterville Opera House with our homeschool group last weekend. The show was very well done, and despite being a little long we all enjoyed it. I'd seen the show once before, in high school I think, and remembered just a little about it. What surprised me is that I either hadn't realized (or I'd forgotten) that the fiddler is only a metaphor for the lives of the people of their village, precariously balancing tradition and changing culture and surviving against the odds. Somewhere in my adolescent brain I'd seen it as an actual trade in their town, albeit a risky one.
The past few weeks I've been feeling like my own life is a bit like that fiddler. Of course my struggles don't even begin to compare to those of Tevye's family as they face anti-semitism, extreme poverty, and an angry Czar who drives them from their village. There's nothing like refugees to put your life into perspective.
Perpective aside though, my struggles have felt real to me--and its been a rough few weeks. Monday's post of cheery, homeschool love and excitement was pre-written (two weeks ago), and while heartfelt and honest at the time of writing felt fairly like lying based on my present state of mind. I've been dealing with some minor conflict in a couple of different areas of my life, which came to head just as two fairly large, long planned for projects were beginning with some other groups (one of them is a fantastic community build with Window Dressers organization to help keep our neighbors warm, reduce heating costs, and cut down on CO2 emmissions. Check it out.) In the midst of these deadlines and commitments, trying to appropriately deal with conflict and meanwhile trying hard to stick to our homeschool schedule, Wylie announced, which quickly progressed to pestering, that he'd like to try public school. For many of you, particularly those of you with kids in school this probably seems unoffensive, and rather normal. Even so, to me his request felt like a sock in the gut. I can't verbalize exactly why. It didn't feel like an insult as some have suggested. I know his curiosity well and can see where he's coming from. But, it put me in an instant state of panic and unrest. I'm still part way there.
So, in the past week we have explored the local school, he has tried out the classroom and enjoyed it, though is not ready to make any kind of commitment. He's not sure really what he's wanting from school, and I'm not sure that what he's looking for is really what he'll find there. I feel like Tevye from fiddler, balancing pros and cons... "On the one hand we didn't decide to homeschool him on a whim..."On the other hand, how much harm can come from 4th grade? On the other hand.....
As parents the decisions we make about and for our children are never easy. But, when they were babies I always seemed to know in my gut what was right. Now that they're older they have so many of their own opinions and feelings to add to each decision there's not just my own gut to consider. At what point and with what risks do we decide to trust their instincts against our own?
There are a few necessary steps to be taken before we can pursue the idea of school further, and Wylie is not sure what he wants to do from here. I'm taking it slowly and trying to keep it all in perspective. He's not moving to Siberia with his rebel partner, and none of us are facing an angry Czar. So its mostly good, despite my angst.
At the end of the play, refugees on stage, huddled against cotton snow flakes, struggling to carry all of their belongings as they are being displaced, Juniper turned to me and said flatly, "That was a sad ending". Yup.
I'm not sure how my little struggle will end, but I'm sure it will be better than theirs'.
And, in the meantime, we have this amazing new kitchen island!
Three cheers to Grampy, who is always up for a project when he visits, and is willing to work for chicken soup and BudLight. And, to Rob who is almost always willing to agree to my design inspirations (despite his initial doubt) and who tackles any project with the mind to finish it before the weekend is out.
We left for the play with the three of them, Grampy, Kale, and Rob, mulling over my design and working out the numbers. We came home to a nearly finished piece, ready for me to sand and oil. After 4 coats of mineral oil we've begun using it gently, but I'd still like to get another few coats on before we really get down to business on this beauty. This new island has a proper overhang so the kids can eat without dropping food all over themselves, space for all three kids at once, and a cupboard on the end for storing our favorite school resources right near the table--where they get the most use. We made the top and sides of birch plywood so they finished smooth and sleek, but should still be fairly rugged, and for 1/3 the price of butcher block. I love it.
Below pics from all sides, plus what happens when they all notice I'm taking pictures of them....