We tried out a new piano teacher. And as an introduction to the teacher’s studio, he sent me the recital program from last spring.
One thing I noticed is that each student’s age, school and grade are listed. I read a little more closely and I can see the kids are ranked by how far along they are in their piano studies (most advanced at the end of the program.) And you can tell who is really talented by who is young and advanced.
I don’t need to tell you my competitive spirit kicked in. I told myself to settle. I told myself to meditate. I told myself that if I were doing what’s important to me every day then I would not have to be overly invested in my kids. I took a walk outside to have competitive thoughts with the dog.
On the way home, I said casually to my younger son: I can’t remember, what grade are you in?
He says, “I tell them I’m homeschooled. Why what do you want me to tell them?”
“Well what grade do you think you’re in?”
He says he doesn’t know. He says the kid he went to kindergarten with is going into eighth grade.
That seems so old to me. And also I told myself we would start doing math in seventh grade. And also my son was born in the summer, and it’s not good for kids to be the youngest in their grade. “You could be the oldest in your grade if you say you are going into seventh.”
“Why would I do that?”
“It’s hard to be the youngest.”
“I’m the youngest in cello all the time.”
“We could do math at a leisurely pace if you’re in seventh grade.”
“Mom. What are you talking about? Why does this matter? I don’t care what grade I’m in.”
I pause. “You’re right,” I say.
When we started homeschooling I worked so hard to shelter the kids from people who asked them leading questions: Who will teach you? Do you miss your friends? What do you do all day?
Now my kids are immune from those questions. I’m the only one in our household who cares that kids prove their piano chops by listing their grade in their school. I am the only one in our family who cares about school even though I’m the one who took the kids out.
I feel like an immigrant family. Where the kids are native. And I can never be native. I’ll always be a visitor to another culture, watching, in amazement, as my kids assume there’s nothing new about homeschooling.