Sitting in the computer lab at college one day, I had decided to use some of my over-priced technology fee abilities and print out some homeschool worksheets. There weren't many and at the time I hit print, I was the only person in the lab. Another student came in. I felt ashamed. I had rushed out the door that morning without having put on any make-up, and my wardrobe that day consisted of a pair of sweats, a baggy t-shirt, and *sigh*, houseshoes. She walked in looking like she had just stepped out of a JC Penny catalog. Her hair was perfection; I have a bald head. I was certainly feeling the stares coming but decided to just keep my mind on my work, get my printing done, and get back home. I hit print a second time - 40 pages wouldn't take long.
She quickly logged in on a computer, and presumably pulled up something to print because she walked to the printer. I approached her and explained that my documents would be done momentarily. She began grabbing the papers off the printer to see if hers had printed in the middle. Glancing at me, she had a questioned look upon her face.
I smiled sheepishly and explained that I was a homeschool mom. (And now that I think about it, wouldn't she have came to that conclusion if I was using a college computer lab? Surely I wasn't having problems with grammar and phonics, right?)
"Why do you homeschool?" She asked. Under any other circumstances, I would have been fully prepared to answer that question. But I was feeling out of my element. She was pretty. She was put together. I felt like a piece of a jigsaw puzzle that had been forgotten. Quickly, I blurted out my response, haphazardly and without thought, "Because of bullying, and them passing my son before he was ready." Facepalm. I was so frustrated with myself, I couldn't even string together one coherent statement.
She proceeded to tell me that her mother, brother, father and even herself, were all public school teachers. Before I could even say, "hey, that's great!", she began again with, "have you talked to the principal? What about IEP? There are many alternatives to homeschooling."
I was taken aback. And immediately became defensive. Not because I was scared, but because I know my kids and I know what they deserve. Public school isn't for everyone just like college isn't for everyone. I don't mind that my mechanic does not have a degree in machinery: I want to know that he can fix my car.
"I homeschool for many reasons. Many more than what I've mentioned to you." I began, "...and homeschool works just find for us. We are able to learn the information, not just memorize it and regurgitate it back out onto a standardized test. We are able to slow down and appreciate what we are learning, rather than rush to and from the next class. We aren't subjected too soon to the hatred that is filling public schools. And we aren't disregarded by faculty and staff. In fact, when my youngest son was in public school, they had passed him to the second grade when they shouldn't have. I explained to the school I was concerned about his reading, and the teacher, principal and superintendent all said I shouldn't worry about that right now."
She tried to insert some words, but I kept going. "And I ask you, since you are a teacher, when should I worry? Perhaps when he's too far into to school for the damage to be reversed? Or perhaps when the government decides to give the schools more money because the students are reading at such a poor level? Or maybe when the school can buy a piece of technology that replaces reading with nothing but images to convey meaning, rather that the words?" I stared at her without reserve. She woke up the momma lioness in me and when it comes to my children, hell hath no fury!
"Just don't give up on them" she said, referring to public school.
To which I replied, "I won't. That's why I homeschool them." With that, I grabbed my papers from her hands and left.
I have never felt so out of my element or in a position to where I felt as though my motives were being questioned, my abilities being downgraded, or my hopes for my children being plagued with doubt. However, I don't know that I've ever felt more alive. Seeing that poor woman stand there with her mouth gaped open as I turned and walked out almost made me feel charged -- like I could take on the world. And at that very moment, I knew I would no longer need to rehearse my reply to the question, but rather, educate those who are unaware of what I want for my children.
I am curious. Have you ever had to explain why your children are homeschooled? I'll go one better? Has anyone ever been asked why they DON'T homeschool?
Until next time,