So I’m participating in Kelly Chadwick’s Creative 30 project. Everyday she’s posted a new creative assignment to get our juices flowing and thus far we’ve drawn self-portraits on post-Its (it was actually supposed to be on a napkin but I improvised), found pictures in the clouds, and done photo-stories.
(My drawing (on the right) may or may not have looked like a police-sketch of a serial killer but hey, we’re learning that the worse evil is not to try.)
One of our assignments, however, was about creative, free-flowing writing. The task was to set a timer for 15 minutes and just write until the clock ran out. The prompt was “my favorite thing about elementary school.”
So here’s what I wrote for my assignment. It ends abruptly but that’s because my 15 minutes were up.
Being homeschooled I guess I didn’t know what I was missing when kids said they went to school. In fact, just yesterday I had a conversation about “bus memories” with a friend. I never rode the bus. I woke up every morning to my dad singing through my bedroom, joyfully opening the blinds to my room letting in painfully bright rays of bubbly sunshine so I could “greet the day”… That didn’t last long… I remember having a “heart to heart” with my dad about this habit (I was literally probably ten years old). My proposal was that if he would let me set my own alarm and wake up on my own that I would absolutely promise to be at “family devotions” on time, alert and ready to participate. My offer was that as soon as I was late, even ONCE, he could resume his barbaric ritual with no complaint from me. Knowing what I know now, I think it devastated and impressed him all at once… In fact, I think he liked greeting me every morning.
Growing up in my house, my mom was borderline fanatical about health and nutrition. We had to take this nutritional supplement called “Barley Green” which was basically dehydrated grass. We’d put two spoonfuls in about 6 ounces of apple juice and Irish car bomb it until it was gone. There were eight of us in the house so my dad would line up the cups biggest to smallest (mine was always number three because it was dad’s, mom’s (even though mom was older…never understood that one)), then me, then on down the line. My cup was always green.
I was always most efficient in the mornings. My goal was to complete all my assignments before lunch…and I often met that goal. My mom is a curriculum master and we tried everything. We even did ATIA curriculum which was basically a sacrifice of praise to the conservative Christian gods. We learned basic Greek, memorized HUGE portions of scripture (I had Matthew 5 and 6 memorized by the time I was 11), and had to read all sorts of books no one’s ever heard of.
I remember standardized testing. That’s what homeschoolers have to do to get credit for passing a grade. A certified teacher can either personally evaluate your progress or you can take the state standard exams (the one thing I did learn about the world “outside” was how to use scantrons…go figure). For most of elementary school we got evaluated by Mrs. Sellers. She drove a massive station wagon you could hear coming a mile away. But she was a nice lady.
When I got to fifth grade and beyond, however, standardized testing was the social event of the season. Central Florida has a ridiculous number of homeschoolers and they’d all come from their “little houses on the prairie” to come to testing. Seriously, homeschoolers are either dropouts or children of the corn. You either wore all black gothic regalia or clothes you handmade yourself for 4-H. Somehow, me and my siblings were somewhere in the middle…basically normal…but not really…because we were still homeschooled. My little extroverted self, however, couldn’t have been happier to do multiple choice tests which I passed consistently with flying colors (except Spelling and Reading Comprehension…those always got me) only to take breaks and experience the most celebrated of all traditional traditions: recess.
Oh. My. Gosh. Did you know that kids play for FUN!? Together?! E.V.E.R.Y.D.A.Y.?!?
It was seriously my favorite time of year. How sad is that…or precious? I can’t decide which.
My mom liked us being able to explore extracurriculars. We did a wilderness survival class where we built shelters out of dry brush and pine needles. We learned how to survive a plane crash in the ocean by jumping in the pool with all our clothes on and inflating them with air to stay afloat longer. I got to study Greek Mythology one semester which was also when I began my obsession with comic books…(lame…I know…) Apparently ancient Greece had their own nerds because that’s all basic Greek Mythology was… Ancient heroes and villains.
I got to try music. I played recorder (like the nice kinds…that you pay money for). I played piano, learned French Horn (but that was more in middle school). Oh, and going back to ancient Greece, we did a “world fair” one year and each had to research and present a country to the co-op (there were maybe 5 or so families participating). I picked Greece. I’m still not sure what happened, but I basically did no research or preparation at all…so out of character I know. But when it came down to my presentation…I bombed…like the worse bomb ever…like the kind where people on the front row are humiliated for you. Yep. That was a memory I never wanted to bring up again…awesome.