Today I took the three little girls to the grocery store with me at 7 AM. When we got to the fruit section, Mimi picked up a single apricot. "What is this Mom?" I told her it was an apricot, sort of like a mini peach. Then I started laughing. "You're drawn to all things French!" (This past weekend, I bought Mimi her first French Baguette from Panera. She was hilarious in her total rapture over the bread on our way home from church.)
"You look like a Scot, but you totally have a French heart!" I teased her. My 7 year old is a walking image of Princess Merida from Disney's Brave. She has curly red hair, fair skin, and a smattering of freckles across her nose. We checked out while Mimi carefully held her apricot to keep it from bruising. As soon as we finished she said "Now I'll imagine I'm at a picnic by the Eiffel Tower" and took a bite. The resulting taste brought a smile to her whole face.
I looked at her with her Scottish looks and her French heart and said in passing, "We should study Mary Queen of Scots today."
I pictured a quick 5 minute biography lesson suitable for the second grade. Instead, Mimi and I laughed over the crazy plots twists of English Royalty for over an hour. We found out that Mary, Queen of Scots attended on March 9, 1566, in my daughter's words, "the worse dinner party in the history of dinner parties!" The former Queen of France and present Queen of Scotland was eating delicious French food from her imported French chefs in a private dining room, when her husband and several evil buddies broke into the room, threatened the heavily pregnant Queen and killed her secretary, David Riccio in front of her. It takes two geeks to get each other, but my daughter and I laughed ourselves silly imaging the French chef asking "How did they like my new dessert torte?" and a messenger saying sadly "The effect was sort of ruined by a dead body falling into it!"
Unschooling does not mean, no schooling. I'm in charge of making sure that my 2nd grader learns how to write her letters from left to write, instead of backward. I make sure she leaves my house knowing the basics of history, science, reading and math. And yet.... letting my kid take the lead in her education makes the whole schooling thing such a party! It took the girl with the heart of a chef to make me recognize how ridiculous it is to spoil a good dinner party with a murder.
Someday, when she is touring Europe, I hope Mimi goes to Holyrood Palce in Edinburgh and snaps me a photo of Mary, Queen of Scots' private "supper chamber." We'll laugh about the "worse dinner party ever." I'm grateful for the extra sparkle that homeschooling gives to our Mother/Daughter relationship.