Monday, August 30, 2010

SGW: A Homeschooling Rant

Today's rant comes from Kathy Kennedy, a homeschooling mother of six.  Her blog handle is MamaJulep (you may have read her comments here) and her blog is called "Trying to live Proverbs 31 with Just as many Excuses: One mom who's pointing her kids to Heaven... but most days can't seem to get them to flush the toilet". 

And just in case you think she must be an uptight, Jesus-freaky, righteous sniffing, Perfect Christian Mommy with a bump-it style bun and a denim jumper - hold onto your t-box.  She's a wine-sipping, former career girl and a total MILF with a great sense of humor.  Plus Kate and I like to associate with her because she's all good and sweet and Olivia Newton-John-ish and it makes us feel like Rizzo and Marty in pink satin jackets, smoking and chewing gum at the same time because we're so bad ass.

And she's about to do for homeschoolers what other guest writers have done for adoption, special needs and only children

Many people view homeschooling as they do mothers of sextuplets or something... a little freaked and weirded out, but 'can't take your eyes off the train wreck' kind of fascination. I guess that's why they feel free to ask you all sorts of questions, usually combined with snippy comments on their uneducated opinion of homeschooling. It's a good thing I'm old and stove up or I might not have the gumption to deal with their nonsense, but after having a six pack of kids, and especially after having my trio of babies nine years ago, I've witnessed nosiness to its extreme.

I have to pause here and say that I've never made a big thing over having triplets, as if it's the thing that defined me, I'm all about their individuality, always have been, but I do get that it's a little curious to most, and I never mind the benign comment here and there. But, when people find out I have triplets, often they become incredibly intrusive, frequently insensitive that my babes are all within earshot.

"Were they natural?"
"Yes, I believe he was on top that night."

This is my new snitchy comment since, after nearly ten years, I'm growing tired of being interviewed on the Little Debbies aisle in Target.

"Are they identical?"
"No honey, the girl has a vagina. Did you skip school during biology class?".

I think these comments are well deserved for nosy nuisances, and I'm just not as nice as I used to be, but mostly I'm geared up because my kids are standing right there. They have feelings and a brain. They are not science projects. And we aren't here to entertain you. I'd like to get home and drink some wine, mostly because I have to deal with people like you every time I need groceries.

But this is another post. We're talking about homeschool nosiness today. Sorry.

So here's my top three stupid questions I get asked about homeschooling.

Aren't you worried about socialization?
This is at the top because it always comes up when I'm being "interviewed" and I guess is the most fascinating because of its ridiculousness. So to answer.. No, I am not worried about socialization. Given the fact that all my kids are involved in activities to the ridiculous level that we leave the house daily for their activity schedule, not mine, to the point that I have to work to make sure school gets in to accommodate all their nonsense of auditions, concerts, rehearsals, academic clubs, SOCIAL clubs and regular outings with pals. Not to freakin mention that we live in a family of eight, so we get plenty of opportunities to learn about social skills...and there is a difference between social skills and socialization, and THAT is often what you are getting at, right?

My kids know well how to socialize because we are not animals and their parents have taught them since they were babes, what is appropriate and what is not. For example, they would never interview a stranger at Target and ask them the very personal questions you are asking me. And by the way, the "real world" is not a place where everyone the same age and level of learning are at the same job, shop at the same stores. We all work and live around a diverse culture of people with different ages and skills, so knowing how to "socialize" through homeschooling is actually more "real world" than your model. Oh, and I've seen the social model in schools, my kids were there for a few years, and yes, many of my pals send their kids to schools and are awesome parents and have awesome kids, but get real, the school setting is not exactly the example of excellence as far as socialization goes. This is where my kids learned some things I wish they hadn't, so don't try and sell me on school over this socialization nonsense because it ain't gonna happen.

This is where Kathy gets off her soap box.

What makes you qualified to teach your children?
This question takes many forms..."are you a teacher", "how are you gonna teach chemistry", "what if you don't know something", "aren't you worried you can't do everything". The other day-in Walmart- at 9:00 in the morning, a woman asked me why my kids weren't in school, so do you see why I'm this way? Can I just buy my milk and bread and go home please? So I told her that we homeschool and then turned my head back to my shopping. She continued, "oh, what curriculum do you use?" I said, "Are you a teacher?" and she said "no". So I'm thinking, "then what the hell are you asking me about curriculum for because you probably don't know a damn thing about curriculum, so I may as well talk to you about string theory- which you probably have never heard of either". So I ignored her after she admitted her ignorance and walked off. What she really was doing was testing me to see if I really do teach my kids or if I just spend my days with them in Walmart. Yea! I want to keep my kids out of school because I love dealing with their nonsense 24 hours a day, with no. freakin. break. ever.

And if you question whether I can teach my children, whom you can obviously tell are in elementary and middle school, then I suggest you really have doubts about what you grasped in your traditional school setting, because I am quite confident I can master those subjects just fine. As for high school, in case you ask that one, unless you can discuss calculus based physics I suggest you don't get into a conversation which you know nothing about. And by the way, they make these things, cutting edge stuff...they're called "Teacher's Manuals", and they can be quite helpful if the two of you hit a roadblock. Something you won't have when your child comes home from school asking for your help with science homework, and having no such manual can only spend the next 12 hours searching for help on the Internet and weeding through college papers just to find out the meaning of the probability of a blue eyed girl with brown eyed parents.

Please don't question my intelligence and expect anything but sarcasm.

You must be religious, Catholic, (ie: extreme religious nutcase) to want to homeschool.
This is another comment with hidden meaning because what you are really saying is "if you weren't a religious nutcase, you'd have your kids in school, so you must be a lunatic". Not all homeschoolers homeschool for spiritual reasons, in fact, it is just one part of our decision to homeschool- so we could teach our children their faith and know that they got it, so they'd be prepared spiritually as well as academically for life. We're weird that way, but we haven't joined a cult, don't wear denim skirts-unless their fashionable, and don't sit around the table polishing our guns every day-only on special occasions!

We happen to like this lifestyle of being with our crew. We tried school and it was too hectic and had too much nonsense for us. We think it's great for you, really. Just because you think what I do is weird doesn't mean I feel the same way about you, but recognize that I don't stop you in Target and ask why you send your kids to public school and aren't you worried about the socialization they get there and aren't you worried they won't get what they need academically, because I could SO ask you the same things. We are all called to various positions in life and mine is just a little different from yours. Please don't use the excuse that you could never make your kids do school because you struggle with getting them to put on clean clothes everyday, because I struggle with the same stuff too. Homeschooling is rather natural, I mean, I already am the boss at home anyway so I just carry it over into school work. That has never been any more of a struggle than regular family nonsense. And please don't assume that my kids are all geniuses or that I'm super intelligent because many days I find myself beating my head against the wall because this homeschooling lifestyle is not for sissies! Keep in mind that I sacrificed my lucrative career so I could stay home with my sweathogs and teach them myself. This means I also sacrificed having things, going anywhere, or saving any money, so I must be pretty passionate about this. I also have to pay for my own books, chemistry sets, and everything myself. There are no tax breaks for homeschoolers, but I do have to pay taxes to send your kids to school so if anyone should ask the questions, it should be me!

And my kids get to do awesome things, like attend things that are fun and not crowded because you all are at school while my kids are enjoying no lines at the fair or the pool at the Y or something like that. We have wonderful social things because we don't rely on the school for our clubs. My boys are in a club for boys and their dads to meet and learn about the virtues and awesomeness of becoming a man in this world. My 12 year old girl is in a group of other pre-teens, run by a recent homeschool grad, who talks to them about how to be a teen without giving in to all the nonsense of the culture these days like dressing like Miley Cyrus, and it's way better than just hearing it from me, because she is a COLLEGE girl and is loved by these girls. My little girls are in a similar group for them called Little Flowers, where they earn a petal of a flower when they learn a virtue like honesty or charity, and then make flower badges for their sashes.

So the next time you see me getting my oil changed at 10:00 in the morning when there's no lines and my six pack is with me, don't presume to know my situation or tell me how to live my life because I'm just trying to mind my own business, which you are making hard for me to do, and living the life I chose to live for my family. But if you really want to know what it's all about because you might want to live this awesome life too, then please come sit next to me so I can tell you how rewarding it is and how at peace I am in my decision to live this weird life as a homeschool family.

(c)Herding Turtles, Inc. 2009 - 2010

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