Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Queer Fish

I just sent off a query for my fantasy novel, so I'm asking for prayers that I'll be able to find an agent to represent it.
I also wanted to respond to a couple of things that people have posted, so I'll run through that quickly. I have to say that I like Canada. It's funny, Americans think that the totalitarian things that we have to deal with are terrifying, and we think that the police-state post-9/11 terror watch shtick is worse. Probably it's just a matter of the devil you know vs. the devil you don't. I am familiar with the Home School Defense people -- I discovered them when I was worried that we were going to have to go to court to keep the CAS out of our house (my daughter's godfather is a criminal lawyer and was willing to write letters for us, but if we'd gone to court we'd have needed someone who knew family law.) I also know about Michael O'Brien. I might have met him -- if not, everyone that I know, including my husband, has. It's a small world up here in icy Ontario.
With regards to homeschool, I go back and forth on whether or not I would put my kids into Catholic school if I could. The basic problem is that we're all eccentric, and none of us deal very will with large groups of people. I want my kids to grow up knowing that they can afford to be unique, that they don't need to fall in with the crowd. I love Catholics, but at the same time another young Catholic mother that I know has had difficulty with the culture in a really great Catholic school, simply because she's strange, and wild, and flighty, and doesn't fit in with the slightly mousy, pious, reasonably respectable types that people the majority of arch-orthodox Catholic establishments. It's hard, because if you're odd, you're odd wherever you go -- and I am undoubtedly odd.
I think that's part of why I ended up being attracted to the gay/lesbian community, because it was a place where you could afford to be "queer," and particularly where you could afford to be queer in the old-fashioned sense of the word. Eccentricity was a bonus, not a liability. Even to this day, when I got dumped into a group of 103 randomly selected people (long story), I gravitated towards the lesbian-identified neo-pagan. I wasn't "attracted" to her sexually, but we could talk comfortably with one another, whereas with "normal" people I'm completely at a loss. Either I put my personality in a box and behave like some sort of absurd cardboard cut-out "good mother" type, or I quickly find that I am out of place. Fortunately, I've discovered the Catholic eccentrics of the world, so I'm able to be happy in my little pond, swimming about with all the other odd ducks.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

The Eye of Sauron has Turned Away!

Okay. I've made allusion in the past to some sort of looming crisis perched on my shoulder like a bird of doom, and now it is over. The basic story is that an estranged relative on my husband's side decided to report us to the Children's Aid Society (that's the Canadian equivalent of Child and Family Services in the States) for "neglect" which is one of those terms that is so ill-defined that it can be used as a catch-all for "we don't like the way you parent." Anyways, we're not sure what the motivation was but we suspect that her disagreement with our decision to homeschool is a large part of the issue, and that she hoped that the CAS would come in and force us to send our children to school. This is not entirely unlikely -- my sister works at an Oxford Learning Centre and she informs me that there are a number of children registered there who are homeschooled but whose parents have been forced to put them into some sort of external program as a result of interference from the Children's Aid. Talking to other homeschool families, I've learned that this is not an uncommon situation and that, more often than not, our legal right to homeschool can more or less be canceled at any time by any relative who is willing to complain to the authorities.
Or, rather, it can canceled if we let the Children's Aid in. As I said above, the term "neglect" is exceedingly ill-defined, and reading over the CAS guidelines it immediately becomes clear that it really is almost entirely up to the "discretion of the worker," in other words, if the worker doesn't like the way you homeschool (and they generally do not like homeschoolers -- they think that homeschooled children are endangered because it's impossible to interview homeschooled kids without the parents' knowledge while they're at school), then they will be able to find enough evidence to make your life hell for months/years. At least this is the situation that other homeschool families have described to us.
My advice: don't let them in. You have a legal right to say no when they ask to come into your house, and to refuse to allow them to interview your children. If they call or come to the door simply say, "I'm sorry, I'll have to talk to my lawyer," then go and find yourself a good pro-life lawyer. In most cases the reports are spurious; because there is no actual abuse or neglect going on, there is no convincing evidence of abuse or neglect included in the report to the Children's Aid. They will make threats, and tell you that they can come and take your kids into custody in order to question them, or that they're going to get a supervision order to come in and invade your house on a weekly basis for three to twelve months, etc. etc. but the fact is that unless they have enough evidence against you to obtain a warrant, the threats are empty.
It involves a tremendous amount of stress, of course, but at least it's only stress.
(This is, of course, the reason that I've been particularly focusing on questions of legality -- why sodomy laws and other intrusive anti-gay legislation are totally ineffectual, not to mention exceedingly uncharitable.)