Homeschooling Teen

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Pioneers 101

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My name is Katie Dodd, I’m 16 years old, and live in Clifton, Tennessee. My hobbies are reading, writing, walking, occasionally riding horses, and a lot of other activities. My passions are animals first and then comes writing. I love making random stories up or writing poetry to express feelings. I have a lot of goals in life, like finishing college, and opening my own vet clinic and animal shelter. I also want to get one of my stories published. I can get very passionate about things like the government and my beliefs. I like debating, and just sharing what I know. Out of all the subjects in school I’d say History is my favorite, it may be the past but it’s what shaped the world and changed a lot of things.

Pioneers 101

Late July – Early August 2012

We had discussed moving for four years. Finally we packed and made the trip from Florida, to Clifton, Tennessee. My family of six, my aunt’s family of five, and my grandma, all moved together. Florida was sunny days and constant heat even in the winter, so the weather was a shock up here. It was hot when we first arrived, just like Florida; not too big of a change. We moved to 25 acres right outside city limits, so no garbage man meant we had to take the trash to the dump ourselves. No more dragging trash cans down to the road and just having someone do the dirty job.

Everything was going fine the first week, we got a hotel room so we could move trees and weeds, where we’d put our camper. The camper is small; it has a bunk bed in the corner and the top you cannot sit on or move a muscle without getting bruised somewhere. There is also a small room, where my parents took over, and then a table that folds into a bed. We had it all settled and we moved in, all still giddy with excitement from the move so the lack of space didn’t matter, the weather was normal, living off jugs of water and having no electricity was not a problem.

We had big plans and we didn’t think problems would be well, a problem. My family squeezed in to the small camper, my aunts family squeezed into an equally small camper; my grandma remained in the hotel room. Two weeks later, were dragging our feet and constantly bickering. Going to town to fill 30 jugs was horrible, and having a modern outhouse with a porter potty was disgusting. No air conditioning, no TV, no cell reception. I was ready to burst in to tears and beg to be taken back to Florida.

I especially hated my best friends not living behind me anymore, no more weekends together, no more shopping days or movie nights, no more laughing or crying together. I missed them terribly, and still do. But, time seems to change us all. We met a neighbor who had two horses, a quarter horse named Molly and a welsh pony named Joe. She was nice and her horses were a good distraction. I began going over as much as possible to ride and became quite fond of Molly.

We were all still moody about all the new things and the trash piling high because we still hadn’t found a dump. We went to church. It was nice, then a conversation between the new preacher made me want to just go on a rampage. It started similar to this: “You’ll love the school here. It’s very friendly and has good teachers,” the preacher said, smiling, and I liked him as of that moment.

“I homeschool,” my mom said while also smiling. There were other adults in the room. My siblings and I were with our mother and my dad sitting a few feet away.

Everyone went silent and made it feel really awkward; the preacher, giving my mom a strange look, said, “If you don’t know what you’re doing you shouldn’t homeschool.” He had an expression on his face that my already angry self took very offensive. I don’t think he actually meant to be offensive, though, but I wasn’t in the mood to think straight.

“She’s been homeschooling 16 years; I think she’s got it down pat,” I said trying not to snap, because I was raised to speak respectively to adults even when they were out of line or just on my nerves.

My mom laughed and shrugged it off. I was mad she didn’t defend herself, but I think she knew it wasn’t their business how she raised her children. Later on after continually going to that church, I finally forgave him and moved on. A lot of people didn’t respect my mom’s choice to homeschool us; she was moody about that, but it is a nice town. So upon all this, things started looking up. My dad and uncle got poles and boxes hooked up, we had electricity, and living without it for three months, made you really appreciate it. I think it felt like Christmas when we finally got it, it was an amazing day!

Then we started digging trenches, and I had never done work like this before, so here came miserable times. After three days, my city family and I gave up and scraped up the money to hire somebody to dig them. For a hundred dollars we bought a hand held tiller and my dad started tilling an area for our two gardens. My cousins found real arrow heads and fossils. When the trees started changing colors in the fall, it was amazing! If you looked at a mountain you could see yellow, red, green, and other colors. Like a painting, it made you want to just sit there and wish time would stop for that moment.

When we started the garden my aunt’s family rented a house, abandoning my family to live in the small campers. We got the garden going and to this day I do not like gardening, but once the stuff started growing it was cool to know I made the hole, and put a seed in the ground to grow. Now the little seed is a big plant! It may have been horrible work, but it had a good reward. We also built our chicken coop from hand with recycled wood! Okay my dad built it but, my sister Serenity, my mom, and me painted it!

When it got to October we had a Halloween get together with our church. There was a hay ride and roasting marshmallows! At one point I was dragged away by 12 year old girls and I realized something, were we all that obnoxious? I was just watching how they acted and I know I definitely matured. That was surprising to learn, just to know how much people really do grow up and one day they’re all going to look at twelve year olds and say, really? We had fun that night, the whole family did, and we learned a few things like how friends can sometimes not be who they say they are, and maturing is mind blowing.

We got through the winter, with all our limbs attached; we were sure we were going to lose a toe or a finger. We had one light dusting of snow and that was it, so all that cold and not one good dose of snow. I have seen snow three to four times in my life, so I was pretty disappointed. Overall if we avoid the cold and lack of snow it was a great first winter up here!

September 23, 2013

We stayed in the camper for the spring and a little of the summer, but as much as we enjoyed our pioneer life for a year, it was time to get a house. We are now renting a house, with a heater! The house is not huge but after being in a camper for a year you learn to appreciate the space. I don’t think we’ll be going back to that camper anytime soon. Late spring, early summer we want to try and start building a house on the land. This winter should run smoother, and next year we’ll see what new trials and adventures come up.

I think this move has made me learn a lot, not only in culture but, in my beliefs and how I should handle situations like when people criticize how I’m taught or my beliefs. It makes you appreciate the small things like water and electricity. I think the move helped me mature and grow up a little. So this was like a long camping trip, I’m glad to be in a house!

~Katie Dodd

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