That rant I promised on Twitter (and bonus @Fluevog)!
Posted on February 10th, 2017
Since it’s now de rigueur to skip sleep and then rant on the Internet, I might as well take advantage of barely two hours of sleep last night to go off on something–and so I shall.
But first, a word from our sponsor. Well, no. Not a sponsor, but still: I want to pause for a moment to share these. They are perfect.
Right? Badass and beautiful. The distilled essence of all the time I spent playing dinosaur tag with pH. (Too bad my shoe budget for 2017 is already spent.)
To make an awkward segue so that I can again segue into the promised rant, I wore a pair of badass shoes to an asylum law training last week. The first part was about US asylum law generally, and the bit at the end was about the Executive Order particularly. The organizers had anticipated 30 people, but then the EO dropped, and 120 of us ultimately registered for the training. It was four hours in stuffy rooms, plus some pizza and Diet Dr. Pepper and the inevitable breakdown into small groups to discuss. (I hate small groups. I want to learn anonymously, preferably in a giant lecture hall.)
It was a great training, by the way. Materials–cases, guides, videos–are online. Even if you aren’t planning on doing any pro bono work, it’s good information to have.
The rant has nothing to do with immigration law or the EO. (Too easy.)
No, I’m going to rant about a law firm shareholder who, when I said I was homeschooling pH, said she could never do that, it was too hard, and she just didn’t have the patience/energy/whatever. She thought about it a couple of seconds then reiterated, “No. No. I couldn’t possibly.”
Here is the thing about “I couldn’t possibly.” It hints at a choice. If the choice is a child attending a poorly performing school with very little enrichment or sucking it up and teaching her at home, I suppose I had a choice. In reality, though, I didn’t. I brought a little human into the world. There is no money for private school–not even if I swore off new shoes for the rest of my life. The public school is awful.
That’s how I ended up as headmistress of the Hat Academy for Strong-Willed Girls.
Did I ever want to teach? No. Do I particularly like children? No, with exceptions for pH and a few others. Would I rather be wearing awesome shoes while defending a motion for summary judgment? Hell to the yes. These days I end up drafting a few of these a year, ghostwriting for others, but I still love it.
There’s no magic bean that gives someone the ability to homeschool or not; it’s just what had to be done. Also, I’ve found almost every controversial thing I’ve done is met with the “I couldn’t possibly” and “You’re so brave.” If you substitute “lunatic” for “brave,” you get what most people are actually telling me.
I have heard “I couldn’t possibly!” for: high risk pregnancy, downsizing to a loft for a couple of years (would do again in a heartbeat), solo law practice, representing victims of sex abuse, going into tech after university, minoring in chemistry (to my history student comrades) and majoring in history (to my chemistry lab partners). Actually, I’ve heard it a lot. It seems to be a go-to reaction to someone doing something unconventionally.
In many practical ways, homeschooling is easier: I don’t have to worry about attendance, being late, packing lunches, or the crap shoot of teachers every year. (My experience with pH and teachers is that one in five get her and one in ten really get her and gush. The rest seem to find her a trial, and I get it. No, she doesn’t ever stop asking questions and yes, it is completely exhausting.)
In many ways it sucks. I’ve lost my time, a good deal of sanity, and my professional identity (although I was pretty sanguine last week about saying, “My background is civil litigation, but I’ve been homeschooling my daughter for about four years”). If I could find and afford a school that was a great fit for pH, I’d jump on it. I’d love being Mom, instead of Mom, Teacher, and Coach.
But, you know, I can’t possibly imagine it.
Well, it wasn’t much of a rant, but I didn’t stop at 140 characters. The shoe picture was worth it, though, wasn’t it?
To be serious, though, look into the Center of Excellence and consider volunteering. At least read as much as you can–no harm, no foul, and it might help one of your clients in the future.
For someone who is isolated from adult conversation most of the day, it was an honor to sit in a room full of attorneys volunteering their otherwise billable hours, who want to help and know they won’t be paid much, if at all, for what they will do. It brought out the very best in our profession.