Calvin Trillin Imagines What It’s Like To Be Homeschooled by Rick Santorum

Dubious and far-fetched ideas.
March 15 2012 4:42 PM

Homeschooling With Rick Santorum

The candidate teaches his children about contraception, nausea, and the separation of church and state.

Rick Santorum waves to the audience with his wife Karen Santorum and five of their children

Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images.

The Santorum children were relieved to hear their father announce that the next hour would be devoted to American history. They were tired of talking about sex all the time. That morning’s biology lesson had been about how contraception can cause diseases such as St. Vitus Dance and Housemaid’s Knee. Two separate field trips that week had been to the worst slums in Washington, in order to demonstrate how sex for purposes other than procreation will almost invariably lead to drug addiction, depravity, poverty, and homelessness. In the third hour of the second trip, while being shown how drunken derelicts were driven to look for food in a dumpster, little Kevin Santorum had looked up to his father and said, “Why can’t we take field trips to the water treatment plant like other kids?”

Beginning the American history lesson, Senator Santorum said, “The framers of our Constitution, such as Thomas Jefferson, were Christians who had no intention of driving people of faith from the public square. They did not intend the United States to have absolute separation of church and state. As we learned in Personal Health class earlier this week, absolute separation of church and state can make a person want to throw up.”

Kevin raised his hand and was recognized by his father. “My friend Timmy says that Thomas Jefferson was in favor of what he called a wall separating church and state,” Kevin said. “Timmy says that ‘separation of church and state’ is actually Jefferson’s term. That’s what Timmy says.”


For a while, Senator Santorum said nothing, but his expression was stern. His cheeks had grown flush. Kevin, made uneasy by the silence, decided to break it with another question: “So did Thomas Jefferson throw up all the time?”

Their father still hadn’t spoken. He looked angry. Finally, he said, “Timmy is inhabited by Satan.”

“Timmy Burnside?” Kevin said.

“Yes, Timmy Burnside.”

“The Timmy Burnside who lives down the street?”

“That’s right,” Senator Santorum said. “I don’t want you to play with Timmy Burnside anymore.

“But Dad,” Kevin said. “Timmy Burnside has a Wii with both Mario Super Sluggers and Madden NFL 12—my two favorite games.”

“Those whom Satan would inhabit he first tempts,” the senator said.

“So then could we get Mario Super Sluggers and Madden NFL 12 for our Wii?” Kevin asked.

“Absolutely not,” Senator Santorum said. “In fact, there will be no more playing with the Wii. We’re giving away the Wii. It is Satan’s tool and is thus unclean to the touch.”

There was an audible groan from the children. “Leave it to Kevin to ruin everything,” one of the older kids whispered to his sister. “He should know that it’s always safer to talk about sex.”


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