A few magical things happened this year to make homeschooling possible for us. I haven't written much here about bullying, but it was a major factor. Although it was a difficult experience for my son, we wouldn't have made the jump without it, so it was a blessing in disguise. I'd been wanting to homeschool for years, and my son was interested, but he always pushed it back another year. "We'll homeschool next year..." Even if he had wanted to, I didn't have enough time. I was always running around managing project activities and volunteers.
In the nine years of the project, I have watched hundreds of kids grow up. Some are married now, with kids of their own who will start coming to project activities themselves in a couple of years, and I will watch them grow too. My son and my project were born at the same time. He's grown up in it. He's been part of it his whole life. Since he can remember, people have been dancing, juggling, painting and performing all around him every day. He has always shared his mother (and her attention) with thousands of children.
As I mentioned in my last post, my son just turned 9 and he's changing. He's growing up, becoming more independent, not needing me as much for the little things, taking initiative... At the same time, all of these things are happening with the project too. My eldest student has taken on the coordination of the project, and with it, the main chunk of my job. This happened three months before I pulled my son out of school, so that by the time we started to homeschool, my student had proved his competence as coordinator, and I could focus on this new thing we were going to do - just my son and me.
This Friday, the project will be celebrating its 9th annual show for parents and community members. I won't be running around like a crazy person, screaming my head off until I'm left with no voice, and directing all the millions of details that go into putting on a show with 70 kids. I'll be sitting in the audience, watching the most beautiful show on the planet - my project, operating independently of me.
They say that the ultimate success of a social project is exactly that - to function without the founding director. So I feel proud, but I also feel a lot of other things. This project has been who I am for the last decade. It's nice to answer the "So what do you do?" question with "I run a free arts center for 3,000 kids." Now, I homeschool my son full-time. Since the project runs from our house, I am available for applying band-aids to scraped knees when needed, and I still do most of the external communication for the project (it's minimal), but other than that, the project runs without me.
Homeschooling my son might not sound as heroic, but it is. I'm taking responsibility for his education, and in 9 more years, when our homeschool project is done, our success will be measured by his ability to direct himself in the world, and to function without me.