I am sitting in my bed, propped up by pillows against the headboard; my laptop is placed on my lap. The screen emits a glow in the otherwise pitch darkness of our bedroom. It is after midnight and Matt turns over again and says, “Turn off your computer and go to sleep, Jill.”
Recently, I have been up every night later than usual, researching and planning. Mapping things out. Before I finally go to sleep this night, I want to finish reading about the Potato Museum in Blackfoot, Idaho. I stare at the picture on the website homepage – in front of the museum is a boulder-sized baked potato sculpture with sour cream and butter.
This makes the list. We must stop here. I’ve never given much thought to the history of the potato industry until now, but I am extremely intrigued. And I want to touch that big stone potato.
Summer is like a carefree friend that can never stay long enough. I am always sorry to see it go each year. But this year, when summer ends, we will skip the back-to-school blues and instead begin a journey I’ve dreamed of for many years.
I am driving cross-country with the kids for three months.
I’ve coined a few different names for our adventure. Semester on Wheels. The Great American Field Trip. Soulward Expansion.
I’ve assured the kids they will love their new classroom – The United States of America. There is no front office. No school cafeteria, desks, or PE uniforms. Also absent tardy slips, grades and bells.
The permission slip is signed. We are on our way. National Parks, Civil War Battlefields, Museums, Cities, Farms, Small Towns, and Historical Monuments.
Places of great historical significance, places of immeasurable natural beauty, and places of quirky, uniquely American pop culture.
I will not be teaching alone. We have much to learn from the voices of the past. Courageous men, women and children who endured hardships, mistreatment, slavery or war. Those who, despite challenges, pursued the promise of a better life, a better country. Their innovation, creativity and perseverance will inspire our learning and growth. We stand on their shoulders. We will visit the places where they lived, stood, worked or bled. Read the words they wrote or spoke.
History is alive and the people we will meet and see across this beautiful land will help us answer this question – What does it mean to be an American?
There will still be time for recess, but not the daily blacktop hopscotch, tetherball, or monkey-bar sameness. Recess may be running through a corn maze in Nebraska, frolicking on the shores of North Carolina, or hiking through Yellowstone National Park.
Starting in a month, Mom’s Voice will be checking in each week from a different location. From the banks of the Mississippi to the illuminated monuments of Washington D.C. From fighting in the minivan on long expanses of Southwestern roads, to the Potato Museum in rural Idaho.