The Homeschool Family
This is a story that is based off of my family-somewhat.
One of my older sisters helped me with it.
"Look at that family! It's too big for me to stand!" said a girl as she stood in the store parking lot, loading her car with groceries. She paused to gesture at the fifteen passenger van that had just parked nearby.
Her companion counted the people that streamed out of the vehicle. "One, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight...oh, what's the point of counting!?"
The girl who had spoken first finished for her. "Nine, ten, eleven, twelve, thirteen..thirteen!" Her eyes nearly bugged out. "Eight girls and three boys, not to mention the mom and dad! I would never be able to stand that many siblings! A brother and a sister was enough for me!"
Delta grabbed the hand of Marcia, one of her younger sisters. "Stay close to me," she instructed the nine year old.
Marcia nodded obediently."OK."
Jess, who in age and size was in between Delta and Marcia, came up behind them, holding the hand of another younger sister, Rose. "There are some people staring at us," she observed, grinning. "Oh, the joy of having a big family!"
The two older boys in the family, Jack, who was eighteen, and Nate, who was seven, caught up with the four girls as they started walking.
"Brilliant observation," Jack said in a sarcastic tone.
Nate looked up at him. "I like cake."
"I'm sure you do, "Jack replied.
The whole family was soon lined up in five pairs and a set of three. They marched into the store.
No one commented on their family size-excluding stares and curious looks-until they got to checkout.
Their cashier eyed the large group. "Are you Mormon?"
"No." The father, Dirk Danner, grinned.
"Catholic?" inquired the worker.
The cashier smiled knowingly. "Oh, you must have adopted most of them, right?"
"Ah...no," Mr. Danner replied.
"How many sets of twins do you have?" asked the cashier as he put groceries in a bag, still nervously eyeing the family.
"They're all single," the father answered.
The worker hurriedly pushed the last items into bags and rang up the bill. He breathed a sigh of relief as they paid and left.
In two days, it was Monday. Mrs. Danner prodded her sleepy family out of bed. Breakfast was made and eaten, and Mr. Danner and his two oldest children, Christie and Jack, went off to their various workplaces.
The baby, Mark, was fed by Mrs. Danner, who then took children numbers 3 and 4, Sapphire and Dory to pick up some things that she had ordered.
Delta and Jess were left in charge.
Delta put the baby in his crib to sleep, and Jess got their other younger siblings, Marcia, Nate, Rose, and Joyce seated at the family meal table, doing schoolwork.
Two hours passed relatively quietly-aside from bickering and the occasional rebuke to a daydreamer.
Nate was staring out the window, through the open blind, daydreaming-which was not unusual for him-when suddenly he sat up straight. "There's a strange car coming down the driveway!"
Jess immediately remembered the drill that she and Delta had recently learned from their four oldest siblings. It was called the 'Strange Car' drill.. "Marcia, Nate, pull down the blinds in the living room. Rose, Joyce, get behind the couch. I'll lock the doors, and Delta, please close the dining room blinds. Let's hustle!"
In less than a minute, they had performed their duties and were hiding behind the couch. Jess and Delta wondered who had come.
Soon after, there was a knock on the front door, then a pause, then anther knock. This pattern continued for a while, then stopped.
Jess tiptoed to the front door and quietly opened the blind.
A man in a nice business suit was heading down the porch steps and around the house.
A couple minutes passed, and then there were knocks on the back door. Then he was back at the front door, trying to force it open. Finally, he gave up and left.
Delta and Jess watched him from the front door.
"He's carrying something-and it looks shiny," Jess said.
"It's a book, and I think he's a Jehovah's Witness," Delta said, straining to get a better look at the unwelcome visitor.
"The most persistent one I've ever seen, "Jess put in. "They usually give up sooner."
Life got back to normal-school.
Mrs. Danner got back an hour later. After asking how things had gone and how much work each work each person had done, she inquired, "So, how's lunch coming?"
Jess and Delta glanced at each other. "Uh.."
"We kinda..um..forgot it in the morning's excitement, "Jess said slowly.
"Is that so? What excitement?"
"Well, some guy came and tried to get us to come and answer the door," Delta explained.
"Then he tried to break in," Jess added, "after knocking on the front door and the back door."
"We hid behind the couch," Delta put in.
"Well, it looks like we're having leftovers today," Mrs. Danner said as she opened the refrigerator.
Delta and Jess looked at each other and shrugged.
"Oh, and Jess, you're still in your pajamas," Mrs. Danner noted as she piled plastic containers of food on the counter.
Jess looked down. Her mother was right. "Well, I guess that myth about homeschoolers going to school in their pajamas is true," she said, grinning sheepishly. She left to get dressed.
"The principal's coming home early today," Mrs. Danner told Delta as they started preparing lunch together. "He didn't have much work to do."
"Generally, principals never seem to have a lot of work," Delta commented.
After lunch was made and eaten, and the dining room and kitchen sparkling clean, everyone set back to work, inwardly groaning at the pure torture of doing more work.
The house was quiet until someone knocked on the door.
Jess and Delta looked at each other and rolled their eyes. Who now? their eyes seemed to say.
Mrs. Danner sighed as she put the baby down and went to the front door.
All the older kids strained their ears for the sound of conversation.
"Yes?" Mrs. Danner asked as she opened the door and seeing a lady in a gray uniform with a tag that said boldly Raleigh Social Services.
"Ma'am, I'm here to see if your children are pyschologically fit enough to be set loose in the public, and-" the visitor began.
Mrs. Danner interrupted, "Pardon, Miss...my children are fine. Their brains work and they know how to behave in public."
The social worker looked at the clipboard that she was carrying. "I also need to investigate their socialization. Do they have any friends or anyone that they socialize with?"
Mrs. Danner sighed. "Yes, ma'am."
Dory popped up beside her mother. "We socialize with our dog, cat, and twenty chickens... oh, right! I also have lots of friends. They all live in my head."
The worker raised an eyebrow. "I'm sorry, ma'am, your children are not psychologically fit enough to be set loose in the public."
Dory blinked twice. "Oh, no need to worry about that. We get turned loose into the yard with our fellow homeschoolers twice a week."
The social worker opened her mouth and closed it again before she turned once more to Mrs. Danner. "Have these children ever been mentally examined?"
"Yup," Dory put in. "By each other. Our minds get better all the time."
Marcia and Nate peeked past Mrs. Danner at the social worker.
Nate stared at her intently. "Who are you?"
"That, young man, is none of your business," the social worker huffed as she again faced Mrs. Danner. "Those poor kids look awfully scrawny. How much food do they get every day?"
"Enough, apparently," Dory piped up again. "We're still walking and talking." She paused, a mischievous twinkle in her eye. "I think ..."
All the other Danner children gathered around at the door.
The social worker got red in the face as she turned and stormed down the front steps.
Mrs. Danner shut the door as Dory, Jess, Delta, and Sapphire burst out laughing. They all bumped fists in victory.
Their mother couldn't help smiling. "Well, you made this visit by a social worker one to remember, Dory."
Delta thought that she was going to die of laughter. "That was great! I haven't gotten that good a laugh in ages!" she giggled.
Jess grinned. "Yeah, I can't wait to put this down in my journal and tell all my friends about it!"
Sapphire raised her eyebrow, a slight smile on her face. "I wonder what Jack would have told her if he had been here."
Dory answered, "You can always ask him his opinion when he gets back from work." She wasn't smiling, but her sisters knew that was only put on, because she didn't have a sincere frown very often, and this was not something to frown about.
After everyone settled down, Mrs. Danner pushed them back to their seats to continue schoolwork.
The rest of the afternoon passed uneventfully.
When five p.m. came around, everyone cleaned up their work and started their chores.
Jess was working on dinner and Delta was cleaning a couple of their bathrooms when they heard a knock on the door.
Jess and Delta moaned simultaneously, "Who now?"
Dory went to the door and opened the blind. "It's Principal Danner. He's locked out."
Jess looked at Delta and grinned. Delta grinned back.
"Tell him to go around to the garage door," Jess told Dory.
Meanwhile, Delta gathered all the younger kids and hid them in the kitchen and pantry.
When Mr. Danner knocked at the garage door, Jess found the key and unlocked it.
Mr. Danner stepped in. "Where is everyone?"
"Right heeeeerrrre!" yelled Marcia as she jumped out of her hiding place in the pantry and onto her father.
Nate, Joyce, and Rose followed her lead as they swarmed over their father.
Jess, Delta, and Dory stood back, casually watching all that was going on.
"All right," Mr. Danner said as he opened his lunch bag. "Who was good today?"
Shouts of "I was, Daddy!" and "I was very good today, Daddy!" arose from Marcia, Joyce, Nate, and Rose.
Mr. Danner turned to the older girls. "Who was good?"
Dory shrugged. "They were all fine."
Mr. Danner passed out lollipops to the eager younger children. "You can have them after dinner."
When dinner was eaten and everyone had gotten ready for bed, Mr. Danner read a story to them from the Bible and prayed with them.
The whole family, including Jack and Christie, who had just returned from work, settled on easy chairs and couches in the living room.
Everyone related their daily news to the rest of the family. They got a good laugh out of the social worker's visit.
"Well, today I ate out with a coworker of mine," Mr. Danner said. "I showed him the picture of you kids that we had in our wallet. He said, 'Wow, your wife is young!' And I replied, 'Greg, these are my kids. My wife took the picture.' So he counted all the kids and as the number go higher, his eyes got wider. Finally, he said, 'You have eleven kids! How can you get them up so early to go to school?' And I answered, 'Me and my wife homeschool them. but the two oldest go to college.' All he could do was shake his head and say, 'Wow!' over and over again. After a while, he said, "I only have three. Just one or two more would drive me and my wife up a wall!'
Everyone, including the little kids, who had no idea what was so funny, laughed.
"Well, three kids is a start," Christie commented.
"It's a tiny family," Jack added.
"Don't blame him," Mr. Danner said. "He's just trying to fit in with the world."
"Oh, I'm not blaming him," Jack said innocently. "I'm just saying the truth."
This sent everyone into another round of laughter.
When they had calmed down, the younger kids were put to bed. Delta and Jess went to their parent's room to discuss their stories, while all the older people watched a movie.
"Jess, I've reached a writer's block," Delta said as she settled on her parents' bed. "I just stuck my main character in a pit full of poisonous snakes, and I don't know how to get him out."
"That's easy," Jess said. "Kill him!"
"Not yet!" Delta protested. "This is just the first book, and there's four more coming!"
"Just kidding," Jess answered. "OK...how about a fair maiden, with bright blue eyes, golden, curly hair and a long, flowing dress comes along and throws him a rope. He climbs the rope, kisses her hand in thanks, and then they get married and live happily ever after?"
Delta rolled her eyes. "For heaven's sake, Jess! This isn't a fairy tale! It's fantasy fiction!"
"I'm just kidding!" Jess defended herself.
With much laughing, talking, and comments from the Peanut Gallery, they read aloud what they had written since their last meeting, got through a few writers' blocks, and discussed certain things that would need to be edited. Then they went to bed.
Delta stretched out under her covers. "Today was a great day." She sighed happily.
"Mm," Jess agreed as sleep slowly overtook her.
Soon, they were fast asleep.