I grimaced in the approximation of a smile. "I'm aware," I said, "but those cases aren't about homeschooling. I think they're about entirely different issues." Fortunately, she dropped the subject and moved on. In just a few short weeks, the media has focused on sexual molestation within two homeschooling families and on one family that lives in conditions less favorable than the horses and feral cats in my barn. Because the three families "homeschool", this gleefully stirs up the mainstream to wallow in our weirdness. Because abuse never happens to children that attend school. (Sarcasm alert.)
Earlier in the week, I attended a volunteer meeting. I was new there, a stranger among people acquainted with each other. They were very nice, but of course, the inevitable question arises, "Where does your child go to school?" Now, you might think it a mild and safe question, but much can be read into the answer. Perhaps your child attends Namebrand Country Day or St. Money in the Fields. Wealth drips from your answer. Perhaps a public school? But if it is north, south, or in the middle of the county? Inferences can be made. Perhaps a magnet school or parochial? Lots of information there. But no, I answer, "I homeschool."
"Oh." the woman next to me pauses. (I've never heard this before.) "You must have a lot of patience to homeschool. I could NEVER do that." I smile. It reminds me of the time someone that said they could not homeschool because her children didn't listen to her. I retorted that perhaps her children didn't listen to her because she didn't homeschool. (She did end up homeschooling a year or two later.)
Back to the conversation. I explained that I had always homeschooled, so I grew in my abilities to teach as they grew older. I didn't just pop into the job. Mindful to listen back, I asked what she did.
"I teach kindergarten."
So, she thought managing a class of five year olds was easier than teaching one boy? "You are the patient one," I said, "managing thirty students. I have only one."
"I only have twenty," she replied. Twenty. I have one, that I love like he is my own. Oh, wait, he is.
I used to say that homeschooling was an act of faith, because you wouldn't know if you'd done a good job until they were beyond your influence, and then, it was too late. You had to keep going with no reassurance that you were doing it right and with no one outside the family to blame. I can report back that the two that are "finished" are the most educated and lifetime learners of most all people I know. Aside from that, they are strong in family values, love with their whole hearts and are good people. Both graduated with honors from college. So, as you see the Jerry Springer stories pop up on the news feed, remember that they are feeding you this for the drama.
- Dear Mrs. Cardinal, building your nest in a low lying burning bush outside of the window where my cats perch inside on their cat tree? Not a good idea.
- Lots of people are getting chickens these days. Been there, done that.
- The house on the corner sold. There are four feral cats in the barn that the Humane Society and I have been feeding for two and one half years. They want them gone. Yesterday.