When my son realized I had his dance class music on my iPod, he started asking for it all the time.

Then he started asking about the lyrics.

“Are they saying shit?”


“Can we say that?”

“When we are singing the song.”

“Really? Let’s go back to that spot in the song. I want to sing it.”

I explained that in other parts of the world, saying shit is not the huge deal that it is in the country.

“Everyone says it?”

“Well. Not six-year-olds.”

“When I can drive?”

“Yeah. When you can drive and you’re in that area of the country.”

“How will I know if we’re in that area?”

“Someone will say, ‘Yo yo bro, how’s your shit goin’?'”

The kids die laughing.

We listen to the song more.

They ask what it means to say, “Beats so big I’m steppin’ on Leprechauns.”

And they point out the song sheds light on Lucky Charms.

And I’m starting to think the car might be more educational than I realized.

Since we don’t have school anymore, and I can earn a living from anywhere, we went to Mall of America.

I gave a speech at the University of Minnesota’s Business School, and I ended up bringing the kids and spending three days enjoying the fact that the amusement parks are empty during the school day.

My sons went on each ride three hundred times while I answered emails near guard rails and contemplated the expense of homeschooing when you buy two, thirty-dollar wrist bands three days in a row.

Our favorite part of the park was this rope contraption that simulates climbing up the masts of a pirate ship. The kids had safety lines, but they seemed to serve mainly as psychological assurance. There was a park employee whose job was to rescue stuck kids. Since mine were the only ones there, they got private instruction on how to climb all the different types of rope ladders. The boys were so excited to learn something new. And I was so excited to watch someone else teach them.

I promised myself that I would stop going to the Lego store as a form of entertainment. There is no difference between using video games to take care of the kids and shopping to take care of the kids, except that while both are evil, video games don’t cost money every time we turn to them.

But the Lego store was right there, and I had a brainstorm to buy Lego projects the kids could do next to me while I get a pedicure.

While I was deciding if this idea innovative homeschooling or simply selfishness I realized that I think the two possibilities are actually opposites of each other. And since they are opposites, how will I ever take care of myself again until the boys go to college?

That’s when I spotted the wall of Legos. You can buy endless amounts of Legos in single colors. I imagined my interior design self with a blue shelf made of Legos, a yellow picture frame made of Legos, and I could see replacing our wood ceiling molding with Lego molding. I made extravagant Lego purchases for all three of use, and I told myself we are a homeschooling family growing creatively, together.

I was at the World Trade Center when it fell.  It’s a great way to teach history to the kids. Or politics. Or science. To tell the kids I was there, and tell them what it was like.

And after that lesson, I could teach them about resilience. Which I think is probably the most important thing in all of the world to learn  in order to have a good life. I learned about resilience in my 9/11 group for post-traumatic stress.

The thing is, the day was horrifying for me.  And I’ve been doing interviews about 9/11 for the last three months, and each time a TV station came, I shielded my sons from hearing the discussion.

But if I shield the kids from what’s horrible, I will shield them from what we learn from what is horrible.

We are going to the Apple store because they give free, one-on-one classes. I’m so excited that I don’t have to teach my kids how to add a movie to his blog. The Apple guy is going to do that. And I don’t have to teach my other son to find cool apps on the iPad. The other Apple guy is going to do that. I was never a die-hard Apple user until now. Until Apple made me love that I live in Wisconsin, where it seems that no one else signs up for one-on-one education.

I am making a list of things I don’t like to do that maybe could count as homeschool projects:

Making beds.
Dusting the floor boards.
Cooking Spaghetti 0’s.
Cleaning out my car.
Calling my dad to say hi.

Now that we do not have to prepare for impending strict hours of the start of school, we are visiting family more. Relatives ask if I’m really going to homeschool. They ask it like they can’t believe it and they have to hear it in person.

They ask questions like, “What about high school?” I think, “What about next week?”

I am worried about next week. Should I sign my six-year-old up for two hip hop dance classes, or only one?

He can spin on his head. My six-year-old. I taught him a headstand, thinking I was teaching him yoga. I know that children who are optimistic are happier as adults. So I decided I would teach my kids optimism. And people who do yoga every day have more optimism.

My son did not think of the headstand as a yoga move. He remembered the spinning headstands we watched high schoolers do in Central Park.

I remember the moment he saw it. He was freezing because I told the kids to pack light because New York City is not as cold as the farm, and then it was. And my son had to pee and he wanted to pee in the park, on the grass, and I kept saying, “This is not a farm.”

I want to tell my family that I am focused on optimism, not high school, and when the boys are in their teens, we’ll go to New York City and spin on our heads.

The biggest reason that there’s a huge gap between the education of rich kids and poor kids is the summer. The first summer I lived on the farm, Time magazine published a cover article on the topic which I studied closely.

The second summer, it’s clear to me that kids in our town do not go beyond our town of 2000 people for enrichment. This is remarkable given what the rich kids are doing. The New York TImes just published an article about the breathtaking variety and quality of summer programs that rich kids attend.

The problem with not leaving your home town for the summer is that you never get an outside perspective. You never know where you stand compared to the rest of the world. This doesn’t matter if you never intend to exist in the rest of the world. But I want my kids to be able to choose from a wide range of lives that are not necessarily possible in Wisconsin. Which means I have to expose them to that outside world very early on.

The gap is not so much about achievement at the early satge. It’s about exposure to achievement. And this summer both my boys went to camp in another state. I didn’t realize it, but doing that is equally as subversive as homeschooling my kids. It’s a rejection of my town’s way of doing things.

Melissa took my six-year-old to Texas with her. She is there for good, but he’s there for a week. I was thinking this would be a good method of homeschooling—sending my kid to go visit other people, and see how they live.

After all, it is not lost on me that last time we went to a Chicago suburb for a cello camp, my six-year-old said, “Hey, look at that truck! That’s the dirtiest truck I’ve ever seen!”

And I said, “Yeah. It’s called a garbage truck.”

I need to make sure this stuff happens when he’s six and not sixteen.

Also, I was thinking that maybe I could arrange with another homeschooling parent to send their kid to our farm and we send our kids to their city house. Like, an homeschooling exchange program or something. So I was really curious to see how things would go on this trip.

It went great because he was exposed to things I could have never shown him myself. He stayed in a boy’s house who has a movie theatre inside. He drove in someone’s truck who has a playroom in the back. He ate at a restaurant with a Confederate flag out front, and asked if that’s the flag for Texas.

When Melissa proposed the idea, I thought the scariest thing was that he had to fly back home by himself.

But now that  I see what the trip has done for him, I think the scariest thing is that he might grow up and live in Texas.