Oh my goodness, it was beautiful out today. It was clear and sunny and about 45-50 degrees out.
So instead of a morning of solo-errand-running, it became a trip to the playground after solo-grocery-shopping.
While at the playground I had an interesting conversation…which became the ‘odd encounter’ with another parent.
Nic and Theo are very, very social. Whenever there are other children nearby, they are always ready to make friends and play with anyone, everyone, anytime. I love that about them. They do not stop to notice any similarities or differences. They don’t care about color, clothing or economic class indicators. ‘You’re a kid? Let’s play!!’ is their mantra.
As they played, the three of them, in the otherwise empty playground, they noticed another family arriving. The two young girls started playing with immediately and there was no hope of leaving soon at that point.
So I sat and chatted with the mother of one of the girls as we watched everyone play nicely together. Eventually her older daughter became Theo’s buddy and was incredibly patient with his talkative nature. And Whinnie ran around exploring, shadowed by Chris whenever he was needed.
The mother was quite complimentary of how smart and personable all of my children were. Eventually she asked what grades they were in. Usually when I say ‘we homeschool’ there are several expected responses including:
– I could never do that.
– Wow! You must be really patient.
– That’s great. I know another family that homeschools.
and, very rarely
– I don’t think homeschooling is a good idea
But this response was a new one. Her first reply was that she had considered homeschooling, but that her husband had said, “No, you’re crazy enough already.” Then she proceeded to tell me about the magnet school that her daughter (13) is enrolled in and that homeschooled children can’t get the math they need from a home environment.
I wasn’t sure how I wished to respond. At first I thought that since I’d probably never encounter her again, I’d just let her drone on and remain polite. I had read, just yesterday, an article in Home Education Magazine (see the link in the Freebies sidebar to view selected articles online free) about how important it is that homeschoolers be good ambassadors. I thought about how I didn’t want to alienate this woman, because she was, indeed, very well spoken and obviously educated. I didn’t want her to come away from our encounter with the impression that homeschoolers are rude and/or not interested in hearing about alternatives.
But as she talked about how superior the magnet program was, I started feeling irritated. Why? Because her equation looked only at academic achievement in one specific, and limited, area. It didn’t speak to the multitude of reasons that we homeschool. It assumed something…but I’m not even sure what. And it dismissed her earlier evaluation of my children as being smart and personable.
Now the program that her daughter is in did sound fantastic. It sounded worlds better than what I experienced in school…which was, essentially, boring and rote and repetitive. And her enthusiasm for it was clear.
Finally I just said, at an appropriate moment, that we chose to homeschool for many, many reasons and that we would be staying with it because we felt our children were best served by this decision.
She was polite and accepted this, but still had to say, “If you ever decide to look at the magnet school, and you should, I think you’ll be impressed.”
I smiled, wished her a wonderful day, and we left the playground, which we had told the children we would be doing soon.
On the drive home Chris and I talked about the conversation. Chris observed that sometimes when people are not feeling completely sure of their own choice, they are a little pushy as they are trying to justify it to people who chose a different path. And that maybe we were just as guilty of uncertainty.
Yeah. And I’m reminded of my life philosophy: Maybe everyone is right…from their vantage point, with their perspective, from their life experiences, etc.
Homeschooling is not for everyone, apparently. But I have yet to sit next to a stranger and spend 20 minutes trying to convince them that homeschooling is superior to whatever they had already chosen for their children.
I was a good homeschooling ambassador today. But I wasn’t a doormat. Which means I was me, as well.