Have I written here yet about my favorite day of homeschooling? Because if I have, delete that post from memory, because today is my new favorite day.
My son is taking the AP chemistry test in Germantown, PA. It’s 45 minutes from where we live because public schools won’t let my son participate in their AP testing. (Because, in case anyone needs to be reminded, public schools do not have to serve their community, they only have to do what the law says they have to do.)
So even though my local school is administering the AP chemistry test to tons of kids, they won’t let my son join. Which means we signed up at Germantown Friends. And I was going to make this post about how much I like that school. First of all, you know I’m impressed if I’m even mentioning a school that I like. It’s a beautiful school in old buildings and the day we signed up for AP tests there were posters all over reminding kids to walk out of school to support stricter gun laws. I love a school that encourages social protest, and it reminded me that part of the education I’m trying to give my kids is that sometimes protesting absurd gun laws is more important than keeping to our schedule.
Not that I live like that. I can barely even stop sending emails on Yom Kippur, so how am I going to be a role model for social protest? I think that’s a big reason parents send kids to private school — to give the kids strengths and values that the parents wish they held themselves.
But then I found coffee shop/bookshop a few blocks down the street: Uncle Bobbie’s. And now I’m thinking, if only the test could last all day, because I’m so happy in this cafe.
There are book pages hanging from the ceiling. I need them in my apartment. The books are a three-room library of the black experience. I wanted to read everything. I picked up Locking Up Our Own: Crime and Punishment in Black America, because if my kids are going to go somewhere to protest they will need a supervising adult.
Then I picked up You Can’t Touch My Hair, because I know I’m not supposed to ask black people if I can touch their hair, but I want to see a list of other things I would probably want to do and need to be told not to do. I open up to the chapter titled “How to avoid being the black friend.” Fuck. Of course I always want a black friend.
I find a perfect sized room in the back of the cafe with a long, comfy sofa and a tall picture window, and I just breathe. I spent the last week thinking the test is too comprehensive and I was going to die
watching paying for the preparation. I had insane nightmares last night and I woke up with dark circles under my eyes which I have never had before. I don’t know what causes dark circles, besides AP chemistry, but I’m sure I’ll learn over the next week, leading up to AP biology.
That’s my problem. I see no break. I don’t know when I will not feel pressure to learn as fast as I can so that I don’t make mistakes. Last year my son studied so hard for AP biology and then he couldn’t take the test because I didn’t know public schools don’t let homeschoolers take AP tests. And this year I didn’t really understand how he needed to study for AP tests.
(Wait. Did you know that some kids just glance through a test prep book the night before and walk into the test cold to see if they can get a good grade? I guess it’s extreme test taking. Or like couchsurfing for great test takers. I don’t know. But I’m fascinated.)
The only reason I’m able to sit and breathe is that one kid is in a test that’ll last hours and it’s too far away from where we live for me to go back home and practice cello with the other kid. It’s the first time in so long that I am giving myself permission to not worry about the kids for a moment.
But still, I can’t help noticing the book on the shelf near the espresso bar: Stamped from the Beginning: The Definitive History of Racist Ideas in America. The book is thick, and I start worrying about next year’s AP US history test. If I want to make sure he also gets a chance to read about Thomas Jefferson’s slaves and Angela Davis’s Black Panthers and also he’s prepared to score a 5, then we will have to get an early start and keep a careful schedule and I’m already thinking I don’t really have time to breathe. But I guess that’s how I like it.