When my mother-in-law requested I help her figure out how to attach the VCR to the TV so that the kids could watch a video, I said that I couldn't do any better than they could.

I have always been intimidated by electronics and all the complicated cords and wires that mysteriously make TVs, VCRs, and DVD players work. When one of the many cords have been disconnected, I've waited for my husband to fix it, because I have no clue where it should go.

Well, I began to feel guilty that my kids couldn't watch a certain movie because I was unwilling even to try, so I started to look at where the cords were placed. I noticed that there were labels by the plug-in holes instructing where the video and stereo cords should go. As I tested out the cords in the different holes available, my niece pointed out that the colored cords were supposed to match up with the corresponding colors in the plug-in holes. Amazing! There was actually a simple order to these things. As I experimented with the cords using this knowledge, I got it to work! I felt very excited that had learned to do this "hard" thing.

I suppose many of our hesitations and limitations are due to the fact that we imagine that certain things are too hard for us to figure out or we aren't willing to take the time to learn. But if we will just try and keep on trying, we will succeed.

It was the first and only time I had contested a grade. She had given me a “C” something or other. I don’t remember whether it was a plus or minus. I’m going to say plus. It was a class on drawing and aesthetics. Like many teachers, she seemed to think her class was the only one we were taking, so she gave us astronomical numbers of drawings to complete each week. The one stipulation I remember was that the drawings weren’t supposed to look like anything in the “real world.” 

A famous abstract artist, Wassily Kandinsky, once wrote that we should make paintings like we make music. He was opposed to the idea that musicians should try to imitate the sounds of people or animals, and likewise, he was opposed to painters trying to mimic the “real world.” So he tried to mimic music with his painting instead. Apparently, my drawing teacher had a similar philosophy, but at the time it was lost on me. I quickly made my drawings (more like scribbles), taking care not to copy objects in the “real world.”

“You could have spent at least two more hours on each of these drawings,” my teacher responded to my complaint.

“But two more hours wouldn’t have made them look any less like the real world,” I countered, entirely in my own mind.

I had a good experience in public school. My teachers were, for the most part, kind. I had friends who were good people. I did well in my classes. I got good grades and scholarships and so on.

I hadn't really thought that much about homeschooling until my some of my siblings decided to homeschool their children. Sometimes I would raise concerns.

"I can see that you can provide everything your kids need academically," I told one of my older sisters one day, "but what about socialization? Don't they need friends?"