January 31, 2005

A Day at the Capitol

Today we went to the MN capitol for a homeschool rally. It was interesting though much of the scheduled program went over my kids. As much as I was interested in hearing was Rep. Mark Kennedy had to say my kids were much more interested in everything else going on in the building so I went with their interests.

Rhiannon really wanted to see the Senate in session believe it or not. So we went up to the viewing gallery. I must admit I was hesitant as I did not see this as a recipe for success. Ciaran is an active little boy and easily bored and well Sirah is at an easily distractable and demanding age but Rhia REALLY wanted to so I agreed to atleast try.

Before we went in to see them we went past the House room which was empty and they could view from outside we talked about how they worked. They looked at the desks and the buttons and the way the seats were arranged. We had a long chat about how when we were in the room there would be no talking or questioning. Then I took a long deep breath and entered. The guard did not look at me quite as strangely as I expected though I did feel compelled to say - "We will not be long just checking it out". We entered and took seats in the first row of the balcony.

The kids were actually quite interested in what was going on. It was very difficult for them to not ask questions and I was bombarded when we left the room and even still got a few. Mostly they needed help figuring out who was speaking and dealing with the fact that a lot of people were moving around on the floor.

The topic went completely over their heads they were talking economics and taxes, but they were there to see the process and get a feel for the atmosphere. We stayed through three people speaking to my amazement. Then it was Ciaran who needed to get up and move not Sirah to my amazement. We barely made it out the door before the chattering began, but they were good and did wait.

They wanted to tell me they could not work like that. Then they could not play or do the things they thought were interesting, it must be difficult to be quiet that long and think with all those people moving around. It was hard to understand who was talking. They thought the room was beautiful and both noticed painting on the ceiling and wanted to know if the painters laid on their backs like Michelangelo and Raphael (made me smile) after this week's ceiling art lesson. I forget all the other things we talked about but it led to discussion the entire way through the tunnel to the state office building where we visited with our local representative.

We have met this representative before but in a different context before. We met him while campaigning, both for him and for President Bush. I knew he would not recognize us in a different context and did not expect him to. He did recognize Serona's name when I mentioned it as he is involved with the GOP in a more official way then we were. We talked about homeschooling and I asked his position on it. He said he was supportive of it, just as he was supportive of public and private schooling. His position was it is good for our g-schools (he did not use that phrase) to have competition so more is demanded of them. He said he has met many fine children who were homeschooled and he himself has relatives who make that choice. Overall it was a pleasant meeting and then we just talked about what he does during the day and some other small talk. It was a short visit as the kids were rather shy, though polite with him and I could tell they were reaching the end of their time at the capitol.

All in all it was a nice visit. We toured the building (self-guided) and looked in on the Senate in session, the house floor and the supreme court room. We walked through and noticed the art and architecture, walked through the tunnels connecting the buildings, saw our representative and saw what their office atmosphere is like. As for the homeschool program that was going on today, we listened to some good music, I picked up pieces of the speeches here and there and we helped represent some of the numbers of homeschoolers in our state.

I think one of the neatest aspects of the program for the kids was having them get a sense that there are a lot of children who are homeschooled. I think this helps Rhiannon as she is still sometimes timid about answering the question "Are you in school, what grade are you in". I think sometimes it is still hard for her to find the words to express herself and our homeschool journey. All in all a nice day and I highly recommend a visit to your capital - even with small ones. Even Sirah did amazingly well in her little stroller which she is not used to.


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