Monday, August 15, 2011

the Real World

Okay, enough with the dreamy—isn't life lovely?—posts. (Well, at least for this moment!) It's time to get down to Business.

We saw a fight today.

A real one.

Downtown, walking to our car from the shops.

Two grown men directly across the road from us, screaming expletives at each other.

It escalated,

until suddenly there they were, punching each other, one with his shirt off, chasing the other into the road, testosterone ripping the air.

It was scary.

I told the kids to turn away. It happened so fast. Our car was just past where the men were, so I couldn't think what to do—this was the way we needed to go. We backed up, we crossed the road away from them. Stood with a bunch of others, all waiting, poised. Ready to run, call the police?, I guess.

But the whole thing was over in about 2 minutes.

With no-one hurt (luckily),

one man running off, screaming ugly, ugly words down the street, shaking with rage. The shirtless one strutting back and forth, slowly putting his clothes back on. Life resumed. Weirdly, like nothing had happened. I mean, you've got to keep going, right? To your car. To your life? You've got to keep walking.

But the kids were rattled.

We talked about it, all the way to the car,
and into the car,
and on the drive home.

Somehow we made our way back to joy—turning the Ugliness we heard and saw into something silly, something manageable for an 8 and 11 year old.

But I was rattled too. And for the first time I thought,

If they had been in school they wouldn't have had to see that.

If they went to school…

I could take them there (to that nice neighbourhood, with those nice kids, trees everywhere, so peaceful),

in my car.

I could pick them up, drive them to whatever Activity was booked for them,

then take them home.

A neat life.

Weekends could be spent in beautiful spaces only, with us protecting them,
and they might

never know how ugly the world can be.

But that isn't the life we live.

We see things we don't want to see.

We meet strangers doing strange (and sometimes scary) things, talk to shopkeepers struggling to make a living after floods/a cyclone/a Financial Crisis, see kids on the street wagging school and smoking cigarettes.  

We hear ugly words.

We talk about it all,

day-to-day life, world events, sad histories, people being Unfair and Unjust.

We live, truly, in the Real World.

Which is funny, isn't it? That people say homeschoolers are isolated and shut off from Reality. They say, What about the Real World? What about when they get out into it?

What's that you say?

The Real World—that unpredictable, fascinating, incredible thing? The thing we experience every single day as we go out into it,


We can't avoid it.

It educates us,

every, single, minute of our lives.

Which is
what we chose. And just what we want it

(for better, for worse)

to do.

linking, as I often do on Mondays, 
with Owlet… :)


  1. This post is so spot on! Indeed the Real World is not the little segregation of 20 odd people the same age as you...

    Love your blog Helena :)

  2. I was gonna say that that's the first time I've ever heard of someone contemplating school to shelter a child! :)

    I'd be totally rattled by that. I don't think I've ever seen a fight.

  3. Yeah but in school they would see other kids doing the same thing..or worse. You are so right...the real world is full of all kinds of people and that is where we all live. :) We started 'school' today was so lovely. :) [well most of it, she WILL NOT READ without a fight...sighs]

  4. Echoing Karen- at school, they would see violence and here expletives and it can be quite frightening. The difference is that they were with you and could talk about it and work through the fear straight away rather than bottle it up and not know what to do about it.

  5. Holy wow! Grown men! Yikes! I agree with Karen, they would see worse at school. It's the world, we can't hide it, just talk about how maybe the situation could have been handled better.

  6. It never ceases to amaze me when people ask how my children will manage to live in the real world if they don't go to school. I don't know if there could be a more constructed reality than school? Except maybe one of those closed set reality tv shows...?

  7. Umm Helllooooo....if they were in school they would probably see that nearly every day. Zak went to school for six whole days a couple of years back and he was amazed at the violence and bad language that flew around. He thought it a little funny the first couple of days but soon changed his mind when he saw it was the norm. Its pretty disgusting that adults behave in this manner and I guess no wonder that kids begin to mimic this type of behaviour. A very big shame. Hugs lovely, sorry you all had to see such ugliness. :-(

  8. I saw the most fights i've ever seen while at school (and i worked in a bar in Scotland for 4 years, so that's saying something!)...and mostly that's because, as everyone says, school is not like real life..children are forced into close quarters with many same-age peers whom they having nothing (apart from age) in common with...not surprisingly that leads to fighting, swearing and worse....

  9. Fights at school EVERY DAY, honey. And they are trained to stand in a circle, chanting and cheering it on. It's a prison mentality, to a sort. You know? Basically, if you're not the lowest person on the totem pole, then you have a chance at not being beaten up. It sucks.

  10. The other commenters are right - there are fights at school. But they seem "different" to watching grown men on the street, who supposedly are grown up.

    I remember taking a group of kids (well, girls) on an excursion. As we were walking down the street to get some lunch, a man and a women had a huge domestic (except, not at home). Bad language, bad violence. The girls did not know what to do! "Miss!!!" they hissed! They stared. They had no "street smarts". I hustled them out of there. At school they would have gathered and even filmed the moment on their phones.

    The thing I noted that is different - you shared this experience with your kids. You talked about it on the way home. You would not have that opportunity if they were in the 'care' of someone else for the day.

  11. I think the real world is right here right now in what we live in, whatever that means to each of us. To claim that one setting is more real than another may be irrelevant and unfair. It's impossible to say just what the "real world" is other than how it is lived by our own perspectives.

    As far as how we fare and respond in each of our own realities--well I think that difference is dependent on the support and relationships we have all around us. To me that is part of why I homeschool--for the relationship I have with my children. The real world to me is learning what we need to learn when we need to learn it, come what may :).

    thanks for another great post Helena :).

  12. Well, if they had been in school they would have seen kids fight. Probably often. Kids they know. Not grown men who were total strangers. It would be personal. And this luckily, wasn't! :)

  13. I once saw two drunk men fight - it was horrid. The others are right - yes, you ARE experiencing The Real World, but your babies are not navigating it alone, they have calm, experienced, mama beside them.

    (If only I could fit MORE COMMAS into that sentence)

  14. Just popping in to say "Happy Friday" my friend. Hope you and the kids are having a fabulous day.

  15. I saw my first fist fight in 5th grade. A boy in my class was teased incessantly for all the things that a boy will tease another boy about. Back then we did not call it bullying but it most surely was. The stronger boy told him he was going to beat him up after school in the park which surrounded our neighborhood and school. All the kids gathered. A punch was thrown. I almost threw up, both because I was there and because I did not stop it. I ran all the way home in tears. The victim was not hurt physically anyway. I was scarred for life. I learned more in this experience about life and the person I wanted to be than in most others I have had growing up. I don't wish it on any other 10 or 11 or 12 or 13 year old. To this day, I cannot stomach any sort of physical violence and thankfully have seen very little of it in my day to day life.

    I am so sorry you had this experience. It will shape your children but I think you will find it will reinforce the peacefulness you are seeking and their gentle nature.

  16. Amazing. How often do people point out the rough parts of homeschooling in the Real World? You, my dear, are divine. :)


I love hearing from you! Thank you for your heartfelt, thoughtful responses—they lift me, and give me light.