Spent yesterday evening up on the mountain with the home school families I've known for years, whose kids grew up with my kids, whose kids graduated with my kids. The occasion was the celebration of another graduation from high school, the last of three in that family, and another home school mom who successfully educated her children grades K-12, sending them on to higher education.
This family has a gorgeous home and acreage that backs up to Shenandoah National Park. To be on their deck overlooking the lake and mountains is almost like camping ... and to be with so many friends was like heaven. Trails from the property lead directly into the Park and up to Skyline Drive. There's pockets of hidden hideaways along the trails ... creeks ... swimming holes ... rock scrambles ... shady cool places to perch and sketch or write or watch wildlife or just reflect.
Most of "my kids" who had graduated the past several years were there -- the home school alumni -- back from school or the military. The kids caught up with one another and played volley ball and swam in the lake and pool; the parents visited and laughed and enjoyed watching the kids; and I relaxed in a non-political atmosphere. I needed that....
As I sat on the deck overlooking the pool, watching our young 20-somethings outdoing each other with back flips off the diving board, I thought about the achievements of their parents, my friends ... parents who had sacrificed financially in order to bring up young people to be responsible citizens in today's world. I thought about the moms who had put careers on hold for years to make lesson plans, learn science experiments, educate their children in the way they wanted without turning those kids over to the public school system but, instead, making whatever personal sacrifices were necessary.
Many home school classrooms include The Ten Commandments, the Bible, the American flag, the Constitution, the Bill of Rights, and prayer ... things that are often not allowed in government-run public schools. Our kids learn American history and American government, and they register to vote when they turn 18. Tuesday's Republican Primary? There was 100% turnout of parents and kids 18 and over to the polls by those present at that gathering last night, a group of about 50. Yes, we teach the importance of voting, too.
Even while visiting with other parents, I watched the alumni -- the kids I had known since they were young during my 10 years as teen coordinator with the local home school group: Nate just back from Iraq with the Marines and returning to VMI in the fall; his brother heading to Randolph-Macon in September; Lee home from law enforcement training in Texas; a number of others home on summer break from college; two had graduated from college this year. I listened as they excitedly made plans to meet each other and go canoeing today. I love those young people who have grown up and are busy making something of their lives.
The nastiness of politics went away as the calmness of the Blue Ridge Mountains settled over me ... and I relaxed in the presence of friends who are always there.
Oh Shenandoah, I long to hear you, Away you rolling river,
Oh Shenandoah, I long to hear you,
Away, I'm bound away 'cross the wide Missouri.