Wednesday, April 5, 2017

To go see a whale or Not to go

A fellow homeschooler posted that there was a beached humpback whale on B' 118th street yesterday.  She posted a cool picture and I was trying to decide if I should go today or not.

It immediately presented itself as a basic conflict I have about homeschool.  On one hand, it could be a once in a lifetime experience.  On the other hand, they are perfectly happy watching Jeffy videos.  How much do I try to create a childhood with amazing experiences and how much do I trust that if I can refrain from abusing them, their childhood will be plenty magical because there just happen to be many wonderful experiences that come our way?

(PS I have this same conflict about homeschool materials.)

There is no substitute for seeing something in real life.  I waffled a bit but brought up my conflict to a friend who quickly urged me to go (as she herself, across the world, was at that exact moment going on a quirky graffiti tour in Tel Aviv).

I made myself a cappuccino, calculated how much time I had until it was time for me to go to work (3 hours), googled the drive (20 minutes), and asked all the boys if they wanted to go.  They all did.  I even woke up Chana to ask her (she told me to take pictures).  We hopped into the car.  After all, that's what homeschooling is all about, right?  The ability to spontaneously hop into the car and go check out a dead humpback whale beached on your home beach 20 minutes away.

When we got there, it was a bit disappointing.  The police were there and had set up blockades so we really could not see very well.  Jack took a picture (I wouldn't have bothered but here it is):

See the whale? Barely? Us, too.
I contemplated the frustration of not being allowed near the whale by bureaucracy, marine biology as a field, and moved on to thinking about and how frustrated I would be if I were a marine biologist and the public was standing only 3 feet away from me commenting on my work.

I also felt frustrated that this is the type of situation where the human drive for knowledge is so obvious, so blatant, and so thwarted.  People are fascinated.  They want to see.  They want firsthand experience.  But they are stuck behind barriers.  (Not saying there aren't good reasons for this, just saying it's frustrating.)

The kids pet some dogs, played in the sand, and got a rousing game of ball going with some other kids there (#howDoHomeschoolersSocialize)

On the way home, Jack asked me to sing Ma Nishtana.  He happened to see the Maccabeats new video on facebook and had me play it for him yesterday.  Then last night he wanted me to sing it.  And then today.  The kids all caught the words "kulana mesubin" and started laughing.  I asked them if they know what it means, and they didn't.  And I told them leaning.  Jack noted that Elazar does eat leaning sometimes.  I said that the song says on all other nights we eat both ways, leaning and not leaning.  But on Pesach we all lean.  Elazar said: Hey, like kings!  I said yes.  He was thrilled that he realized the intent of the leaning.  We talked a bit about other things we do that are king-like at the Seder.

So did this end up being the once in a lifetime experience I was so nervous about not availing to my kids?  Nope.  Was it a pleasant interlude?  Yep.

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