One of the most frequent questions people ask us when they find out we tour with our children is, "What are you going to do when they start school?!" They often ask it with a mixture of concern and confusion and so far I've answered with my own mixture of ambivalence and confidence, "Well, we're not sure yet. I was homeschooled so there's always that option, but we'll figure it out when we have to!" Well, the time has come to figure it out. Our daughter, Calliope, is counting the days until she turns 5 1/2. (I overheard her asking her two-year-old brother this morning if he was excited about singing "Happy Half Birthday To You" to her next week. He declined to answer.)
We've tried to leave it pretty loose with her, saying she could be homeschooled or road schooled or maybe go to Kindergarten. She has made it clear to us that her choice is to start Kindergarten. We live two blocks from the local elementary school. She knows the playground well and is learning to ride her bike on the blacktop that's painted with the map of the US. After tiring of the swings we hop from yellow to green to pink states and I tell her stories of the people she knows and the adventures we've had in each. I tell her about her first birthday in California, her second birthday in North Carolina, and her third cousins in Colorado. I skip over to Alaska to tell her how she came with me there in my belly when she was the size of a grapefruit, where the sun never set on the shortest night of the year.
I met the principal last week to ask how it might work to take our Kindergartener on the road. She said she had never had this situation, but did have immigrant kids come and go to their home countries. She wondered if we could try to schedule our tours during breaks, like around Labor Day or Thanksgiving or Christmas holidays. I said I didn't think that would work since were actually releasing a new album so would be on the road in October, November, and likely January and February as well. "Well, how long are your tours? She is allowed to miss 18 days of school." "And then what?" "Then we drop her." My heart sank as I imagined our child a Kindergarten drop out. But she went on to say the alternative would be to unenroll her when we go on tour, enroll her as a homeschooler, then re-enroll her when we get back from each tour. She assured me she could go back to her same class and maybe the teacher could even send work so she could keep up with her Kindergarten classmates as we roll across the country on tour.
So that's our plan as we enter this new chapter. We'll try it out and see how it feels. Nothing is set in stone. As with much of our life, it's really all one big experiment.