We celebrate three years of homeschooling today. I’ve been thinking a lot lately about all the chaos, stress, and upset leading to our “we don’t really have any other choice” decision. It was the hardest choice I ever had to make. It has also been by far the best.
Originally published March 2013
I wrote this post months ago; it’s been sitting as a draft because really, it didn’t fit with any of my usual topics. But when it happened I wanted to make sure to write it down; to remember the moment.
Now, months later, it’s hitting me in a completely different way:
Recently I sat at our kitchen table, eating dinner with my family, when a flash of feathers caught my eye. That in itself isn’t all that strange; I’ve very strategically positioned a bird feeder outside one of our windows so when I sit in “my spot,” I can see the birds. It was the motion of the wings I found odd: a frantic flutter, then stillness, to the point where I would think the bird must have flown away. But then the frantic would begin again.
I continued to sit and eat dinner, but thoughts began to nag at me. Maybe something’s wrong, they started. Maybe it’s hurt. Maybe it’s stuck. Stuck? The bird feeder hangs from a “feeder holder” that clips to our deck; an arched piece (that ends in the hook that holds the feeder), is attached to a straight rod, which fastens to the deck rail. It was possible, I began to think, that maybe the bird got his foot caught between where the two pieces of metal meet and overlap.
Well, maybe. But still possible.
The movement would be so still for so long that I would think it was gone, then it would rouse up again; and finally, once I finished my dinner, I joked that “I’m going out to see what on earth is going on out here.”
The bird–it was a nuthatch–was stuck, but it wasn’t his foot. It was his head. I wasn’t ready for the panicked feeling that welled up in me when I saw this tiny, tiny creature freeze in fear and stare at me, his neck wedged between the two pieces of metal. (Never in a million years would I have guessed the gap was big enough to fit a bird’s neck, even one as small as this one.) My head was spinning as I slowly approached to try to lift the little one.
Nothing prepares you for the sheer nothingness that is the weight of a bird. I’m amazed each winter as I watch them walk on the snow; I know in my head that they are weightless and fragile, but until you pick one up, you truly can’t imagine. He was perfectly still as I cupped my hands around his little body and slid him slowly, carefully, up and out from in between the cold of the metal. The moment he was free, he flew away.
I went back inside ready to cry. What if I hadn’t gone out? What if I hadn’t seen him at all? What if he’d been stuck there….how much longer could he have been stuck there, without permanent damage? And then….how many times do we not act on a “hunch?” On a thought, on a feeling, on a suspicion? How many opportunities have been lost because we failed to do something, however small? What permanent damage has been done because I’ve chosen to ignore the nagging voice in the back of my mind?
Just some things I’m thinking about today…
That last paragraph…acting on a hunch, what permanent damage has been done, failing to act, ignoring the nagging voice in my head…..It occurred to me today that all those things perfectly sum up our decision to start homeschooling. I’m tired of just standing there. I’m doing something.