To say we had a rocky start to our first day of home schooling is an understatement. Or maybe not, if you perhaps consider it is every 5 year old boy's dream to have a flat full of (hunky) fire officers. Should have read the back of the cooking chocolate packet, do not use in the microwave. Who'd have thought a little bit of chocolate could create so much smoke. To be fair, I did phone the fire brigade and ask, "sorry to bother you, but as my flat is filled with smoke do you think it is ok to open the microwave door?" At no point did I order 2 fire engines. And the last blow to my ego was delivered when one officer enquired if it was a day off school, and my son replied "I'm home-educated"..... todays lesson is Home Economics.... strike one.
I've always been a traditionalist, my friends at school used to laugh at my 'old fashioned ways'. As a parent the educational path of your child is pretty traditional and easy to follow, you have lots of messy fun with them and then off to school until, well pretty much until they leave home. So off we both went on to another stage of our lives.
I enrolled at University to finally get round to finishing my degree, which was a very exciting prospect and did not disappoint. The fly in the ointment came when my son started refusing to go to school. This became an ongoing battle, but somehow I always managed to get him there.
Until one day he asked me if he was to drink the cleaning products in the bathroom would it make him sick enough not to have to go to school. Horrified that such a young child could think this way prompted me to do some research into home education.
We lived in London at the time and discovered many, many other families who were all home educating their children, all with their own, and a variety of, different reasons. So we jumped aboard the alternative bus and became part of a wonderful community of the most interesting and diverse people you could meet.
My son thrived in this environment, his joy and happiness made his cute, chubby little cheeks glow again (he will kill me for this bit, ha!) Our days were filled with Ice-Skating, parks, woods, trees, fishing, and a house full of home ed friends, as well as my young Uni friends. As an only child and a single parent this was what we both needed in our lives, and I thrived with my son.
My son is now 20 and is about to go off to university. Apart from the usual sleepovers and maybe the odd holiday without each other (more recently) I have spent nearly every day of those 20 years enjoying the company of the greatest love and achievement of my life. At 20 we have swapped days in the park together for Netflix box sets, juice boxes for the odd cheeky beer, notes under the bedroom door for abbreviated speech, that I don't understand, on a messaging service. We have grown together. I am now confident in the work I have done as he moves on to the next phase of his life. He can cook, does his own laundry and Ironing, and knows to use different cloths to clean the toilet and the bath.
And me, well, I have the added fear of turning 50 at the end of the year and have all the soul searching, wrinkle finding, hot flushing that it brings with it to look forward to. Not my idea of fun, or how I see the next chapter of my journey. I only had one child, and I have for the most part of my son's life been a single parent. There was a period of 2 years where I was married, but that was the best I could do.
I don't like surprises, so I have been doing some forward planning. The big one being I won't be cooking myself any healthy well balanced meals for a while. Not because I am going to be pining for my baby boy, but because I'm all cooked out. 20 years is enough for any human to tolerate. I'm having a break. I'll either get really fat, or I'll get really thin. I'll let you know what happens.
I'm still trying to decide what I want to be when I grow up. I'm a little bit scared, and a little bit excited about being on my own again. But how do you top the greatest achievement of your life, eh?
Lisa Ives, lady in waiting (for something amazing to happen)