A glimpse at the (imaginary) correspondence of a (real) homeschool mom.

Dear Co-op Mom All Those Years Ago,

When Sparkler was only 4, she enjoyed your unit on seasons and weather. It didn’t occur to me to let you know that her older siblincgs, Bookgirl and Gamerboy, were currently fascinated by the concept of death-by-freezing. They talked about it a lot.

But I guess you picked up on that? I mean, when you were engaging the children in discussion and prompted, “And in the winter, we sometimes get…?”

Snow. The answer was supposed to be snow.

Sparkler piped up, “Hypothermia!”

Are you done laughing yet? We aren’t.

– Sincerely, Sara.

Dear Royal Monarch Assassination Inquiry Board,

Regarding the alleged killing of a caterpillar during a co-op science lesson. I can explain.

While the “science mom” went through her lesson on the life cycle of butterflies, I walked around the room showing each child a monarch caterpillar perched on a milkweed plant. It was gratifying to see the wonder light up their eyes. A real, live caterpillar!

Just as I approached my own daughter, the caterpillar fell off its leaf. It plunged to the floor, possibly with a tiny little scream, and hit the tile with an audible blat. It curled into a tight little crescent (is there such thing as a fetal position for worms?). I may have even see miniscule smears of its own green blood on the tile.

“Is it dead?” my daughter whispered.

“Maybe just stunned,” I suggested.

I picked it back up and placed it more securely on the leaf. Then I continued around the room to show the eager children what was, for all I knew, a caterpillar corpse.

I had no idea what to tell my friend, who had specifically bought the caterpillar to watch it become a butterfly. A coward, of course, wouldn’t say anything. A coward would put the curled-up caterpillar corpse back in its little net cage and hope for a resurrection before co-op ended. Ask me how I know.

After about half an hour, I checked on the monarch morgue. The caterpillar… was moving. It had uncurled itself, and was moving slowly along a leaf. It was alive! Even better, within the next two weeks, it transformed into a butterfly right on schedule.

So you see that I clearly didn’t kill the caterpillar. One day I might even get around to telling this funny story to the mom who owned the caterpillar.

– Sincerely, Sara.

Dear Circadian Rhythms,

I’m not actually sure who you Circadias even are, much less why you dictate how we humans sleep at night. But anyway, I need to talk to you about my son’s rhythm, which is decidedly offbeat.

He’ll go a full week on a normal sleep schedule with the rest of the family. Then he’ll sleep late, or be up too long at night, and his entire timetable flips. He’ll sleep during the day and be up all night.

We just work with it. If he’s on an awake-all-night schedule, Darren catches him for algebra lessons early in the morning before leaving for work. I drag him out of bed for one morning class a week, but otherwise we just do his school in the evenings.

I admit, he’s learned pretty good time management. He knows he’s got to get stuff done while he’s awake, so he’s good at knocking out assignments before getting too sleepy. Still, it’s unconventional, so I wondered if you had any suggestions. Thanks!

– Sincerely, Sara.

Dear Royal Monarch Assassination Inquiry Board,

About those reports of a monarch butterfly flying around with a tiny little bandage on its head—I have no idea what you’re talking about.

– Sincerely, Sara.

Dear One-Room Schoolhouse,

I know that multi-age instruction has its benefits. “The younger children learn from the older ones”—see hypothermia, above. But I would like to state for the record that sometimes the one-room schoolhouse approach is overrated. Sometimes kids can’t stand to breathe the same air as each other. I often do school with each child in completely separate rooms in the house. That has its benefits as well. Thank you for understanding.

– Sincerely, Sara.

Dear Circadians,

Thank you for your prompt reply. I appreciate your advice that we find a way to accommodate our son’s flip-flopping schedule. You point out how important it is that he gets enough sleep, so you suggest that we not try to conform him to a rigid daytime/nighttime schedule. We might have to buck convention to do what’s best for our child.

You know what? You’re right. And we got it covered.

We homeschool.

– Sincerely, Sara.


Photo Credit: Graphic design by Anna Soltis.