Gory Guillotine Movies, Greedy Shepherds, and Gobs of Gold

The wicked state of Pennsylvania does its very best to dissuade one from homeschooling.   This time, its evil plan was to force me to travel great distances, much like Marco Polo traveling to the mysterious realm of medieval China.

Speaking of China, my favorite part of homeschooling is history.  Why?  Because I made the choice to teach World History in a four year rotation, and I’ve discovered that history is fascinating.  I’ve also discovered that China is a very old country with a lot of this fascinating history.  I never learned any of it when I was in school.

When I was in school we learned about Jamestown, The American Revolution, The French Revolution…no wait.  The French Revolution wasn’t taught in history.  I learned that in French class.  They showed us the Gerard Depardieu movie, Danton, where everyone’s head gets chopped off and the blood comes pouring out of their necks.  It was the first time I’d ever seen anything gory like that and I was shocked and disturbed to discover that gory movies are mesmerizing.

Anyway, when I was school we learned about Jamestown, The American Revolution, The Civil War, The American Revolution, Jamestown, The Civil War, and we ended with Jamestown, The Civil War and The American Revolution.  I ended up loathing American history.  It was the same thing over and over and over…

Well, it turns out there’s a whole world out there with lots and lots of countries, and they have some amazingly exciting history.  Hopeless battles with 300 men fighting against an army of 80,000, and the 300 win…well, until they’re betrayed by a greedy shepherd.  Disguised kings who hide from invading armies in a peasant’s hovel and get yelled at by the peasant’s wife for burning the biscuits.  A woman who was supposed to act as regent Pharaoh of Egypt just until her brother grew up, but when he came of age she didn’t want to stop being Pharaoh.  When they told her a woman couldn’t rule, she said, “Then, let’s just pretend I’m a man, shall we?” and she dressed up like a man for the rest of her life, complete with a fake beard, continued to rule as Pharaoh, and everyone just went along with it.

This is great stuff!  Why didn’t they teach me this stuff?

When I was in school, I had 11 years of repetitive American history and one year of World History.  And in that one year, the only time I learned about China was from a Pearl S. Buck novel I was assigned to read.

But now, studying World History over a leisurely course of four years, we have a chance to learn lots and lots of Chinese history.  And whenever we read about China, we are like Pavlov’s dogs, and simply drool and drool until we get to Li’s Buffet for some of those yummy Chinese donuts.

What was I talking about?  Oh yeah, the great distances we must traverse in order to legally homeschool in Pennsylvania and how it’s like Marco Polo traveling to China.

Here’s what I’m referring to: once your homeschooled child turns 8 years old, you must create and sign a document that states things like, “I will teach my kid in the English language,” and “I am not a crook.”  This document must be signed in the presence of a Notary Public.

Notary Public?  What’s that?

I never even knew what a Notary Public was until I had to find one for this burdensome homeschool law.  In case you don’t know, along with performing other mysterious rituals, a Notary Public will look at your picture identification to see if you are the person you say you are, and then they’ll watch you sign a legal document.  They’ll stamp the legal document saying, “Yup.  The person who signed it really is the person they say they are.”

“Darling Husband,” says I, “Where shall we find such a dread Notary Public?”

Fortunately for me, Darling Husband knew where to find such a one.  He gave me a map and I set out on my journey.  First, I had to open the back door, step out on the porch, and open my yellow ducky umbrella.

Luckily, it was drizzling and the hammock was soaking wet, which allowed me to maneuver past this first obstacle that would keep me from my course.  If not for that blessed blessed rain, I would have been tempted to take a nap on the hammock and, much like Odysseus on the island of the Lotus Eaters, many years may have passed before I moved again.

After that, I had to labor up the muddy hill where we can’t get any grass to grow,

…and had to step gingerly over the wet grass (clover) so that I wouldn’t get water all over my sandals, which would take hours to dry and leave me with wrinkled toes for the afternoon.  Or, worse yet, I’d have to change my shoes.

Then, I had to struggle to open the back gate.  Darling Husband has some sort of plastic string thing around the top, that has to be unraveled,

and then the various metal locks that are rusting and stuck have to be forced free while lifting the gate at the same time, a feat which requires the strength of 10 men, or one very determined 122.6 (according to the scale this morning, not counting the shoes) pound scrawny-armed female on a mission to confront the dread Notary Public.

After this incredible journey of traveling through the yard and opening of gates with rusty locks comes to an end, lo and behold, there’s an entire road to cross.

But I was heartened to see that the end of my journey is in sight.  See that building far off in yonder distance?  That is the lair of the elusive Notary Public.

With a last burst of strength, I endured long enough to cross the road, after waiting for the one lone car to putter by, and stumbled on weak and weary legs through the parking lot.  I fell through the door, and from my splattered position on the floor, I lofted my Affidavit of the Supervisor of a Home Education Program form in the air, and, in a voice victorious, cried out, “I need you to witness the signing of this document!”

I signed, the Notary Public observed and stamped my document and then!  then!  the realities of the financial burden set in.  The Notary Public gravely told me, “That will be $375.”  (He actually did.)  But I managed to haggle him down to a staggering $5.00.  With weary arms I hefted my bag of gold onto the counter and counted out the obscene sum.  And finally, like Robinson Crusoe, I made my way back home again after many, many minutes parted from my beloved family.  I announced, “Family!  I made it back!”

Boy9 said, “What?  Back?  I didn’t even realize you were gone,” and we fell upon each other necks with tears of joy at our happy reunion.