Let's see..to recap my story so far, I had become an overnight convert to John Holt's philosophy of homeschooling, yet allowed my first-born to fulfill her dream of going to kindergarten at the local public school. Despite the fact that both my daughter and I were frustrated and drained by the experience, I convinced my daughter's teacher to let her attend on a part-time basis.
By early November, we had all reached a workable compromise. My daughter was enjoying her three days at school, I was grateful to have her good company on the other four days of the week, and her teacher agreed that our funky little arrangement was having minimal impact on her classroom routines.
We made it through the next month and a half of school, and then it was Christmas break.
Well. Our break was a dream. Without the distraction and rhythm-busting interruption of school, the three girls and I hit a great stride. Along with our usual routines of shopping, playing, reading and keeping house, we baked cookies, made Christmas ornaments, and went on several holiday adventures with our friends. Our daily life was extraordinary only in its sweet simplicity and child-oriented fun.
One of the highlights of the season that stands out in my memory is this big cardboard box.
It showed up at our house with some sort of long-forgotten Christmas gift inside, but the girls fell in love with its limitless potential to be other things. For a while, it served as a donkey for re-enactments of Mary and Joseph's trip to Bethlehem. The older girls rigged up some sort of harness so that they could pull it along, and they would prop up my wee little third-born as Mary, and haul her around the house.
Later the donkey became a fantastic coloring table, and kept everyone happy and entertained for many long cozy afternoons of drawing.
At the end of the two-week break, my daughter returned to school without a word of hesitation or complaint.
After the first day back, she came home and told me, "I don't want to go to school anymore."
She offered no reasons, no problems, no explanations for her decision. She simply decided to be done.
And she never ever went back.