July 22, 2004

Why We Home School

It happened last week. I was chatting with an acquaintance, when it was said. "What was said, you ask?" Well, the "why I could never homeschool our children" speech and "why you are obviously weird, fanatical, and downright snooty because you do." As mentioned on this blog before, this is our first full year of homeschooling. I learned very quickly to never answer the following questions posed by friends, family or interested parties:

1) So WHAT curriculum do you use?
2) So WHAT kind of special training do you have?
3) So WHO monitors your schooling?
4) So WHY did you decide to homeschool?

As new homeschoolers, I will admit that we tend to be a bit zealous about it. I cannot help it, I just love it and wish that I would have done it years ago. I am considerate of others who do not share my exuberance for the subject, of course. I guess, though, that I just don't seem to get the same kind of treatment from those who question the whys and whats and whos behind our decision.

I digress. Back to last week. I was standing there when the first question was posed..."so how old is your son?" This was followed by, "what grade is he in?" Which quickly led to, "and what school does your son attend?" I never quite know how to answer these questions any more. Last year, before HS, I would have replied without thinking but this year it is different. In part, it is because of the mixed reaction I have received whenever I mention that I homeschool my child. I have found that most people are very respectful to me. But occassionally, I get comments from people who are either anti-homeschooling, ignorant of the whole subject, or are just down-right insecure around anyone who chooses to do something against the norm.

After a quick breath, I answered with "um...we homeschool." I could tell that this person fit into that later category of people who were uncomfortable with the subject. There was a bit of fidgeting, some squirming, and then awkward glances left, right, up and down. And without saying another word on my part, there it was. "I could never homeschool my two brats. They would just drive me nuts and I would have to kick them outside just to keep my sanity." I had never received this response before and, honestly, I was speechless (a rare feat for me, one who proudly wears the label "verbose"). I thought to myself, "Is that really how you feel about your children?" "Don't you realize what you are saying?" It was a good thing that her 'brats' were not present at that moment. I mean, let's just consider the damage to their self-esteem.

The conversation quickly turned away as a mutual friend arrived and started conversing with this woman. I never had the opportunity to respond with anything remotely appropos. Not that it would have helped much, but at least I would have felt a bit better. So I walked away and thought about this woman's words. I thought about her children, her life, her choices, and why she views her children with such disdain. In truth, this woman probably didn't even consider her words (isn't that the truth with so many people) and if she could hear them , she would take them back and say that she 'loved' her children very much indeed.

The problem is that 'words do matter.' You cannot take them back and once they are out, they are out. I decided to keep this episode as a reminder to myself to watch my own words and to carefully choose them. I long to be thoughtful, articulate, and slow to speak rather than the oft-opinionated, woman that I am.

Food for thought...and words to keep.

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