When Bill and I decided to homeschool, there was a long list of reasons why. Among the top five was his military career. We knew he would deploy during Fritz’s kindergarten year, and we knew that if he continued his employment with Uncle Sam, there would be many other times when it would be more convenient to have a school schedule that suited our needs.
Sure enough, six months after he returned, he began working in DC on temporary orders that did not give us an allowance to move. Unwilling to pay out of pocket to relocate the family from New Jersey, we put up with his weekend commute for about 6 months. It wasn’t fun, but it was better than deployment.
During the week, Bill lived in a one-bedroom hotel suite. He had a kitchen with a full-sized fridge, a microwave, full-sized range/oven and even a dishwasher (I didn’t have one of those in NJ!). The dining area had a table and four chairs, the sofa was a sleeper, and the bedroom contained a king size bed. I would have moved in at once, but it was in the city of Arlington and dragging four kids to the little playground a few blocks away would have been tedious to do 3 or 4 times a day. And keeping the kids quiet in a hotel for hours on end was not realistic.
We did go down for a few days at a time on more than one occasion, hauling Fritz’s 1st grade books with us. It was just an attempt to have a bit more family time. We were desperate.
Every day I was thankful to have the ability to homeschool. I’m not stupid. I know that administrators and teachers don’t appreciate it when kids miss school. I doubted I would have much trouble with the particular parochial school to which I would have sent Fritz, especially not in those really young grades. But now or a few years from now? You expect 3rd or 4th or 5th graders to spend much of their school day learning. Not learning in an ambiguous osmosis sense, but actually learning facts like history dates and state capitals and multiplication tables. How much of that does a good parent want their kids to skip? How often would I have pulled Fritz out to go have dinner with Dad in Virginia? I doubt more than once – if at all. School is important.
And so when I read this article, and I see that envisioned nightmare of mine happening to another military family, I am reminded that this reason of mine to homeschool is a very valid one. Dad is due back for a two-week leave from Iraq. One week falls during their spring break, but they’d like to keep the kids home the other week too. The principal initially told the mom the kids would get zeroes for the missed work – that it was an unexcused absence.
“I said, ‘We’re not talking about Disneyland here. Their father has been at war for the last eight months and all we have is this little bit of time together.’ God forbid if he goes back to Iraq and something happens to him,” Keila Rios said.
My bet is that the media stink will make this principal a wee bit more tolerant of the family’s request to do the schoolwork at home. Oh, and the best line from the article:
Griffin (the principal) told the Star he is a former soldier himself, and that he supports the troops and sympathizes with the family.
Yes, sir, I support you, I will just do absolutely nothing within my power to make your life even the tiniest bit easier or happier or nicer. But if you give me your APO address, I’ll be sure to send you some beef jerky and gum.