February for most people means the worst part of winter is almost over. People start dreaming of spring as they hear birds chirping in the morning and enjoy slightly more hours of daylight.
That used to be true for me.
But for the past two years, my focus has changed. February has become the time I make a spreadsheet listing all of the open house dates and enrollment deadlines for the private schools in the area. This is the time I start daydreaming about dropping my kids off at 8:15. I wonder what it would be like for them to run into school with their friends, meet new teachers and eat lunch in the cafeteria.
Those deadlines are now quickly approaching, so this morning I decided we should do a test run at one of the schools that is most appealing to me. I wanted to see what kind of traffic problems we might encounter. What would the drop-off line really be like? Am I totally underestimating the toll it might take on our family to get up and out the door on time?
I packed up all of our schoolwork and we were out the door right on schedule. Even with snow-covered streets and a traffic pile-up due to construction, the drive wasn’t any worse than I thought it might be.
In fact, I was filled with so much hope that I was confident I could even improve on my timing on the way home, despite a wrong turn and a detour.
Oh, yeah. I was cruising. I was making record speed. The baby was hungry. She was down to her last cracker. We were seven minutes from home. We could get there before her whining turned to an all-out screaming fit.
I saw the cop.
He saw me.
I turned off the timer.
When the officer came around to greet me, I couldn’t decide if I was more nervous about the fact I was driving 50 in a 35 mph zone or the fact that all four of my children where strapped in their seats at 9 a.m. With the bill that was in the Senate last week to require Illinois residents to register their home-schooled children with the state, I suddenly felt like I had a neon sign above my head, flashing the words, “Unregistered Home Schoolers On Board.”
“So, where were you headed this morning?”
I didn’t even have time to think about telling him anything but the truth.
“Well, we home school. And we were looking at a school we are considering for the fall.”
My explanation didn’t seem to phase him. I was kind of hoping he would peek his head in and see our fabulous math curriculum and how diligently the kids were working.
“So, sort of like a tour, huh?”
“Yes. Sort of.”
When the officer came back a few minutes later, he actually looked like he felt a little guilty. The poor home school mom. The four kids. The hungry baby. The tour of the school that would probably now never be a possibility because clearly this woman isn’t fit to be on the roads at 8 a.m.
He was explaining how he didn’t need to keep my license and I could do all the paperwork online and it really wasn’t going to be so bad, when I interrupted him.
“Do you think this is a sign from God that school isn’t going to work out?” I asked.
“It doesn’t seem like a very good omen, does it?” he replied.
Now, I’m just waiting for the truant officer to show up. Maybe he will take a look at our curriculum.