Freedom Matters: A Day in the Life of a Homeschool Lawyer

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By Caitlyn M. Obolsky, Attorney at Law

IMG_2284My morning begins like any other, with breakfast and (black) coffee. During my brief study period, in which I am reading various Political Philosophy, sociology, educational pedagogy, and other texts, I feel moved to text my friend Anne. We discuss ideas and quotations from some of my recent readings which include Leo Strauss, German philosophy, Nihilism, Narcissism, and political philosophy in general.

I also find a few minutes to respond to an HSC legal inquiry email from a parent. (I am a volunteer member of the Homeschool Association of California Legal team).

During this time, my kids attend to their studies. For my oldest, for example, this means Math, Latin, Language Arts, Science (which right now means the Earth & Solar System), etc. She later tells me that she just couldn’t resist reading further than the assignment called for in her D’Aulaire Greek Myth book! She loves it so much! (Greek Mythology is her favorite topic, next year we will excitedly add Greek into our studies).

Next, I gather up the kids, and quickly pack lunch as we head for the double group park day in San Francisco. As we get into the car I ask my 6-year-old (the most discerning) whether she would prefer Latin or History as our audio CD. She selects History, so I put in the Story of the World, Middle Ages disk in. Today’s topic is about the Byzantine Empire and Justinian. The children hear the origin of the Justinian Code and some representative examples of his decrees (one example being the right of the public to access the shoreline and ocean), in addition to one or two related stories.

As we get closer, the time arrives for a phone call I have scheduled with another lawyer. We discuss the current status of the legal effort in California, as well as what we have been up to since the last time we talked. I notice that Journey’s Don’t Stop Believing is on the radio. I write this down, noting the irony.

At some point, I get lost in Golden Gate park, as often happens when I am trying to navigate towards a new park in the City. As our phone call nears the end and drops 4 times (and I am now parked) I decide to email my friend and let him know my intention to finish our talk later. Thereafter, my 6 year old hops out of the minivan with a jumping rope she pulls out of nowhere.

I supplement the lunch I have packed with the dried apricots, kale chips, and applesauce that I have stashed away in the trunk, and we cross the street with all of our things to the park.

Once we arrive, I notice the great turnout! As the kids get their bearings and run off to play, I get the cherished opportunity to talk with the other homeschool moms. We discuss homeschooling and unschooling, what is going on with some of our other friends who are not in attendance, articles and books we have read or are currently reading, society in general, and lots of other compelling topics. The topics of conversation at homeschool park day could easily fill an entire blog post of its own, and then some.

My 2-year-old delights in the elaborate table of shared snacks. He gorges on fresh grapes, strawberries, and black berries, as my 6-year-old follows him around half doting and half ordering him around.

Somewhere during that time, I finally become convinced by my friend Beth to try out their weekly homeschool co-op. I am intensely excited to potentially put some of my hundreds of Pinterest projects to work. The thought of what to contribute remains stuck in my head for several hours thereafter.

After several hours in the San Francisco sunshine, I finally convince the kids that it is time to head home, in the futile attempt to beat Bay Area afternoon traffic.

After we pull onto the main road, I notice that I’m running low on gas, and pull into gas station.

I seize the opportunity to recycle the mineral water cans my kids have just consumed, and I then struggle to figure out the gas pump. The attendant eventually approaches me just as I figure out that I need to lift up the nozzle rest.

Once I get back into the car, my 6-year-old inquires as to what the attendant asks, and then without taking another breath, asks what the gas does in the car anyway. I give her my best explanation of a combustion engine, and text my husband to let him know that he’s up as soon as we get home. I make a mental note of incorporating YouTube videos of how engines work into our upcoming days.

Next, my 6-year-old asks me how the music got into the radio: who made, it, who is singing, how the picture got into the radio, etc. as we near the Golden Gate Bridge. I explain the concepts of recording, WiFi, satellites, Pandora, etc.

Later, as we pass San Quentin, one of my girls asks whether and what the prisoners eat. This leads to an in depth discussion of the Constitution and the 8th Amendment, as well as how some countries to not have constitutions, and in some cases not even state sponsored food programs for inmates. (It is my understanding that in certain countries prisoners have to rely on family members or friends to bring them food).

An intense discussion of how unfair that is leads to a discussion of the 5th, 6th, and 8th Amendments in further detail. I then, for good measure, explain in simplified terms the three branches of government, as well as their functions.

Then, my oldest asks about Senate Bill 277 (aka “SB 277” as they exclusively refer to it as), and what type of law that involves. This prompts a discussion of the 14th Amendment and the concept of Liberty. In addition to the children collectively remembering having once viewed the PBS series “Liberty Kids,” we also discuss the Declaration of Independence, and as she remembers the significance of Thomas Jefferson and George Washington, I tell the children that these men, as well as others such as Benjamin Franklin, are referred to as the “Framers” or our “Founding Fathers.” I explain what it means that they created the Constitution and helped found the United States. At some point we also discuss the First Amendment, including specifically freedom of speech, of the press, freedom of religion, and freedom of association, in terms that they can understand.  Continue reading…

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