Last night DH and I were on a company dinner cruise. We sat at a table with his two good workmates and their wives. We were talking about our plans to buy an acreage outside of town and spend half the week there and half the week in town. One couple, N and H, have school-aged kids and live in the suburbs. H remembered that we are homeschooling and said this to me: “Oh yes, you say you aren’t going to send the kids to school, but when they do go to school you won’t be able to go back and forth like that”.
Excuse me? You are so sure that, despite our best intentions, we will “see the light” and put our kids in school eventually?
Okay, so maybe she didn’t mean it that way. But the comments just kept coming. The socialization stuff. Puh-LEASE. I am so sick of that. Then N says he coaches soccer and there are two homeschooled kids on his team and its so obvious that they just don’t socialize well with the other kids at all…
Oh, so you mean they aren’t sucky little conformists who’ve had all the uniqueness bullied out of them? You mean their lives don’t revolve around discussions of video games and the latest TV series and how much school SUCKS?
I mean, even if you take what this guy is saying at face value, it’s pretty damned rude. I sure wouldn’t say “yeah, we go to the playground at our local public school and those school kids are little hooligans!” to somebody whose kids I know go to school.
There were other comments, like if one kid wanted to go to school but a sibling didn’t how “awful” that would be. As if the homeschooled kid is being totally deprived of a life by being homeschooled while the other child enjoys everything childhood has to offer. Yeah, right.
I guess what pisses me off the most is that most people you run across have NO CLUE what homeschooling is. And yet they are so certain it’s substandard, or not for them, or whatever, and they are so ready to hand you their opinions of homeschooling. H and N‘s boys are 8 and 5. Give the older one another year or two and I’m betting his enthusiasm for school will be all but annihilated. Then again, it was obvious from the conversation that these parents have the usual mainstream ideas about kids. How the older one is “self motivated” but wouldn’t do anything with mama around; how the younger one is clingy and insecure and needed school to show him that he could “do it on his own”, etc.
The whole conversation left me with a really bad taste in my mouth. And I know that this is just one of many, many such conversations I’m going to have to endure for the next decade or so. I’m starting to think about the typical comments I get and formulate some responses. It seems I’m going to have to have a repertoire of answers ready, lest I shoot off at the mouth and have to shove my foot in it. I know some people can just shrug their shoulders and say nothing, and they are probably right that there is no point: I’m not trying to convince schoolers that they should homeschool and what do I care what strangers think of me? But I do feel like I want to defend myself. It pisses me off to no end that people hear I am homeschooling and imagine me sitting in my living room making my kids do worksheets and depriving them of the company of their peers.
And I guess there’s also a part of me that wants to let people know that homeschooling is not just for fringe lunatics, but for educated parents who want the best for their children. Last week at the school playground I ran into a lady I know whose son went to school with my neice. He started at the middle school this year and when I asked her if he was liking it she paused and said “Well, he has no choice”.