Let's peek in on a recent conversation between Perpetua Felicity and her mother. Perpetua Felicity (Peppie to her friends — if she had any) is a homeschooled 13 year old, who has been wondering about all the things she hasn't done due to her family's lifestyle. She's feeling like a bit of an odd-ball.
Sure, everyone wants to be unique, think they're the only one, but come on — she is the only one in her parish from an extra-large family, the only homeschooled one and on and on. Too much unique-ness can be a tough; it all can get to a kid. So, over a bowl of ice cream, late one Friday night, when the little kids are asleep and she is home again with her parents. She begins her dump. It is a tongue-in-cheek rant against how she's living her life. A life she really loves, but she needs to just vent!
Perpetua Felicity: "I don't have any friends, no one calls me to talk endlessly on the phone, hang out at the corner or waste time after school, no one is like me, no one else is from a hugely large family and no one — and I mean no one — is homeschooled in our town…that's so bad."
Mom: "You do have friends, friends just like you — but they happen to live in other towns, cities and states. You know they are out there and you do talk to them sometimes endlessly on the phone or e-mail and while you may feel you are stuck at home you have become best friends with your brothers and sisters so it is all good."
Perpetua Felicity: "I have never attended school, I've never had health class, gotten undressed for gym with kids I don't know, had cafeteria food or had to be at class by 7:30 in the morning…that's so bad."
Dad: "You have had health class with Mom and me, where we have talked about very private things in a very private manner. No getting undressed in front of relative strangers, no talking about often-embarrassing girl things in front of surely embarrassed boys. And I think you will agree with me that missing out on cafeteria food and 7:30 classes is all good."
Perpetua Felicity: "I don't have access to endless TV or even cable TV for that matter. I have never seen an episode of Hannah Montana and don't even know who Jamie Lyn Spears is…that's so bad."
Mom: "Perhaps, but what you do have is a huge list of books read and re-read. You're in line first for the new books at the library — you meet new worlds and new friends on paper almost every week and hey, there are no annoying commercials to disrupt the action. You watch TV; but seeing those two girls is not required. It is still all good.
Perpetua Felicity: "I can't see any movie I want, even the some of the PG and PG-13 ones (and I am 13!) and I've never seen an R-rated movie, ever, except The Passion of The Christ and that doesn't really count because it was about Jesus!. I can't talk about pop culture with my friends (if I did have friends) …that's so bad."
Dad: "You have seen some great movies we've rented or borrowed from the library. Some movies your non-existent friends would never take the time to see because they aren't mentioned in pop culture or have been long-forgotten. And you'll just have to trust me on this one kiddo but not seeing some PG, many PG-13-rated movies, any R-rated ones (except for the above-mentioned movie) is all good."
Perpetua Felicity: "I don't have a cell phone, I don't even know how to text my friends (if I had any) and I can't take pictures on the go….that's so bad."
Mom: "You do have a cell phone – mine – you can carry that anytime you want and I'm sorry it doesn't text but you don't have any friends anyway and I like pictures I can actually hold in my hand so it is all good."
Perpetua Felicity: "I don't hang out at the mall, none of my clothes advertise anything and I'm not sure what the latest fashion trends even are….that's so bad."
Dad: "By not being at the mall, you don't have the pressure to buy stuff you don't need and don't like. You make up your own mind about what you like to wear and don't like to wear. No pressure from kids you don't know, or store mannequins who are as plastic as some of the mall rats who hang out there. You wear what is comfortable and looks good on you. You dress only for yourself and not for anyone else — boy or girl. And, by not spending on ton of money, you've got more money from babysitting in your savings account than I have, so it's all good."
Perpetua Felicity: "I cannot cruise the internet to wherever I want, I can't visit chat rooms and I've never even seen a single download from You Tube…that's so bad."
Mom: "You Tube does have some funny and even educational things on it, I'm sure; but it won't make it past our filter — sorry. It keeps out the crap, the creeps, and the lousy websites that will tell you all about how to be an anorexic and hate your parents. But I know you've found some great sites with interesting things on them that do pass our filter because you spend a good deal of time there when I let you, so I'll take that as another good."
Perpetua Felicity: "Speaking of hating your parents. I don't! I don't resent you and I actually like spending time with you guys. I have never badmouthed you to my friends (if I had any)…that's so bad."
Mom and Dad: "Which is exactly why we do what we do all that we do! Loving us and us loving you is all so very good!"
The bowls are placed in the sink and after a good long group hug everyone heads off to bed. Perpetua is feeling okay. She can't decide if it was the conversation she just had or the peanut butter ice cream but who cares — feeling good is good when you are 13.
Meanwhile, Mom and Dad discuss getting a new cell phone — one that takes pictures. It's not a big deal but it might make their wonderful daughter feel just a bit better about her life. And that is a good thing, too.