Phil is retiring from the Air Force next year. Actually, early 2018, but with terminal leave and processing and all of that, we’ll actually be out of here at the end of 2017.
When we still lived in Phoenix and it looked like we were going to be there forever, we really didn’t question the fact that that’s where we’d stay. I didn’t care for it when I first arrived seven years ago, but it really grew on me. Desert living is the life for me, for real. I liked the weather, I liked the town we lived in, I liked the church I went to. I really didn’t like New Mexico, and continue to not like it. A lot of that may be a function of the fact that this base is literally nowhere – there’s a very small town 15 minutes away, and then it’s one hour to Las Cruces one way and an hour and a half to El Paso the other way and nothing at all in between. We have to travel for doctor’s appointments and swimming lessons, and this place has really just not grown on me at all. When we got here, we weren’t sure when he’d be getting out or if we’d have one more PCS before he was done, but it was pretty much understood we’d go back to Phoenix when it was over.
Once we knew that he’s going to finish out his 20 years of service and get out, it became a little less clear. We could really go anywhere we want, provided he can find a job. We’d also like to live near a base and VA medical services, just for ease of life. We’ll still have commissary shopping privileges and the same medical insurance, so that just makes sense for us. But that really does leave the whole country open, for the most part. We made a short list. Phil didn’t have a lot of preferences and I hated all his preferences (I do not want to live in California or the Pacific Northwest, I just don’t), so we came up with a short list: Phoenix, Denver, and Dallas. We were working from those. The main consideration was living somewhere where we – or at least I, because Phil is a bit of a hermit – know some people. Life got really stressful over the last six months or so and moving somewhere without some kind of support network, even just a few friends scattered around, wasn’t going to work for us. So those three cities were our short list.
To be honest, I was set on Dallas. I’ve got friends there, there are good churches there, and Kpop concerts come through there on the regular. Those are all equally valid reasons, every last one of them.
Last week, I posted an article on my cousin’s Facebook wall, something about public school, I can’t actually remember the exact topic at this time but at the moment it was really stressing me out. I posted it with a comment to the effect of, if we ever move back to Pennsylvania – and you should know, Pennsylvania is where my entire family lives, all of them, every list single person I am related to in the entire world lives within about 40 minutes of each other in North Eastern PA – I will home school Penny and my cousin’s daughter, Candy together and use my spare time to make them into a pop duo sensation. They’re only six weeks apart in age, and come on. Penny and Candy. They’d be a massive success.
To my surprise, though I shouldn’t have been surprised, because I know her, my cousin loved the idea and said she wished it could happen. And suddenly… it was a viable plan. Phil and I have always toyed with the idea of homeschooling Penny, but I work now and she really likes other kids, and for various reasons, it just didn’t seem like it was going to work for us and we were fine with that, because, you know, we think public school is just fine, too. Candy’s mom is a single mother and apparently has always wished she could homeschool Candy, but she works, of course, so it just wasn’t going to work out for her either.
But very quickly, we all thought about this, and suddenly decided, this is what we’re going to do. We’re going to go back to PA where everyone lives and I’ll homeschool the girls together. I’m kind of conflicted about the homeschooling thing and I keep gut checking myself on it. Do I want to do this because I’m overprotective and want to protect Penny from SCHOOL DANGERS!! and bullying and other things? Do I want to do this because I think she’s a special snowflake who deserves or needs BETTER than what other kids are getting in public school? Those were things I thought about a lot before we came up with this plan, and I would be lying to say those things didn’t factor in a LITTLE, but not that much – because, like I said, we’d be fine, really, sending her to public school, and are going to, actually, for kindergarten and the first half of first grade.
It’s not really that I think she’s in grave danger going to public school, or that she wouldn’t get an adequate education in public school, or she would somehow suffer greatly if she went. I did absolutely fine in public school. So did my cousin. Obviously, that’s not always the case for every kid, but neither of us have any personal evidence or memories for why public school is NO GOOD.
I don’t think Penny is a special snowflake who needs more attention or unique teaching or anything like that. When I really sit and think about it, I think that if all parents could do something to put their child in a smaller class, with interest-directed learning that was engaging, on topics that interested them, with the ability to delve more into things that grabbed their interest, with less focus on statewide testing, more time to play, the ability to move at a pace that worked for the kid and not the whole class of varied learning styles, wouldn’t they? If a parent could place their child in an environment like that, if it was available to everyone, wouldn’t everyone do it? Or most people, at least. But in reality, it’s not practical or possible for most people. It’s like cloth diapering, I think – you could do it and it would probably be good, but it is just not something most families are set up to be able to spend their time and money on, for a whole lot of completely valid reasons.
But this opportunity came up, and I can do it. I realize what an incredible luxury and privilege it is to be able to do it. The benefits of moving back to a state I hate and potential benefits of teaching Penny at home with her cousin have outweighed every other option we had on our list. We’ll feel less guilty about her not having a sibling, for one. She’ll be around all of her family who are head over heels nuts for her, for two. And three, no small thing, she’ll get to get her education at home in a way that works for her.
I’m not going to whip out statistics about how homeschooled children perform and socialize and all of that because I don’t really feel like I need to defend the decision – some people are going to think it’s ridiculous, some people are going to wish they could do the same, and some people already are doing the same, and that covers all the people. I’m not going to be changing anyone’s mind on anything. I’m not trying to. I’m just, you know, putting this update out there. On my blog. Like you do.
I think one of the biggest things for us in all of this, right now at least, is having a plan. Getting out of the military after 20 years is intimidating. We had our short list of cities, yes, but really no idea what our lives were going to look like in 2018. We made the list of potential cities and then stalled. Having a plan, an actual real workable plan that we’re all on board with, has kind of spurred us into action. We have something we’re working toward, and it looks good to us. Life after the Air Force is actually going to happen, and this is how it’s going to happen.
Anyway. That’s it. Going back to the east coast like I was certain I never, ever would. Coming for you in 2018, NEPA.