My new friend Amelia sounds like swift-footed Achilles or bright-eyed Athena or sensible Telemachus. I wonder how many of you recognize those epithets from the Odyssey.

Should we teach the canon? I hated reading the Odyssey. Not that I read it. But I hated that my teacher spent all semester acting like we were reading it. Yet there are so many things that are best explained via the Odyssey, like hubris and epithets. So I’ve never stopped referring to the Odyssey.

I was going to have my kids read it. But when it came time to force feed share Canterbury Tales, which I really love, I ended up having my kids listen to a page of old English and then I read a translation of Wife of Bath out loud. So I guess I can do the same with the Odyssey. (Do you have suggestions for the one passage to have the boys read?)

Should we teach homonyms? Another reason to teach the canon is to make sure your kid knows the difference between cannon and canon. And really progressive homeschooling (which may be redundant now but won’t always be) will also teach canon with a tilde over the n. I am from such unprogressive schooling that I don’t even know how to find that thing on my keyboard.

I made a point of testing my kids on homonyms that would attract ridicule. A ten year old should know two/to/too. A twelve year old should know you’re/your.  I made those ages up. And anyway kids attract ridicule all the time if they go to school, and pretty much never if they homeschool. (Evidence for this: my younger son didn’t know how to spell his last name at age 10 because no one had ever asked him to spell it. There were a few kids around who noticed. They were clearly fascinated. Which makes me think the root of ridicule is fascination. But that is for another blog post. Or philosophical treatise.)

Back to homonyms. It’s clear to me that there are not enough people in the world who know proper use of affect/effect, so we should stop policing it. It’s like laws against anal sex. At some point we need to know when our rules are outdated. Use affect as a noun! Who cares! Do whatever feels good, just close the door.

Should we teach thank you notes? My friend Amelia (I bet you thought I forgot) sent us chocolate dreidels and latkes for Chanukah. My older son is vegan, and chocolate is a sore spot, but Amelia sent vegan chocolate dreidels and latkes.

I told my son he has to write a thank you note because the vegan part was just for him.

He said, “Then you have to write a thank you note too, right? Because the other part was just for you, so you will be her friend.”

I said, “She’s already my friend. She sent chocolate just to be nice.”

He said, “Great. You can write that.”

I said, “Fine.”

He said, “A blog post is not a thank you note.”

My younger son said, “It’s a thank you note if you send Amelia subscribers.”

It’s conversations like these that make me wonder if everything I teach my kids is just so they have reference points for how I lived my life, as a bridge between the world before and after computers. And everything they will need to learn for their life they will learn in spite of me.