This post is dedicated to the wonderful & talented Idzie, also Maine Coons magazine.
Today I’m lying on a table getting myofascial massage for my head and neck pain. The bodywork feels amazing and strange and all of a sudden the pain and lack of movement in my neck are drastically reduced. I am not only given incredible massage and manipulated but shown the weirdest fracking exercise I’ve ever come across, like seriously I’m embarassed to have to do it in a room with two people watching my technique, and no I’m fully clothed and mostly lying down, it’s just an incredibly weird series of movements.
The practitioner and her assistant find out I homeschool, because they ask about my “workday”. Four minutes later they’ve forgotten already as they ask in the kid in the lobby is with the Hoquiam school district. “My kids are homeschooled,” I remind them.
What follows is the very typical, OH SO TYPICAL I could write it out verbatim, series of questions and statements (this happens a lot when I’m a “captive” audience, dentist etc). Including, “Homeschooling works, but only if the parents are educated” and horror stories of totally messed-up kids that are a direct result of homeschooling (no totally messed-up kids are ever credited as the direct result of public schooling, just so you know). I know I should be long past this, but I am always surprised when people who did not or do not homeschool and display profound ignorance about those worlds (including not knowing state requirements or legalities of home education nor, even more importantly, having delved into the autodidactic tradition with even one toe), proceed to tell ME with authority tons of Truthy realities, I mean just go on and on. And then, comically, end the often one-sided conversation (one-sided as far as openmindedness, assuredly) with a version of, here’s today’s: “Well, I don’t really have an opinion one way or the other.” Pro-tip, Yes You Do.
Today I have a life lived in gratitude and I can tell you, no matter how cheeky I sound here, I am in full acceptance of these varieties of limitation and I don’t hold a grudge (I mean come on… I have my limitations too, like everyone). Maybe I feel a twinge of sadness. I find it’s pretty easy to have a conversation with consideration to person going on, and with a good deal of kindness. “Yes, reading and math are frequently issues of controversy when it comes to home education.” That is a statement of fact and I can say it. The fact I get queried, very rarely, what I believe or how we do things, lends me to further consider that yes, People Do Have Opinions, and they aren’t availing themselves of mine, and that’s cool. This is made all the more comical given how many parents, adults, and teachers have taken me aside to ask me How Did I Get My Kids To Read So Early or, Wait, Kids Can DO That? It’s like I get the recognition something is working, but a constant stream of opinions as to how it Can’t or Won’t.
Since our family is in quite the minority in America by not only “homeschooling” but also not following school-at-home edicts nor centering our parenting in an authoritarian/authoritative fashion, we’re regularly asked to not only defend our very lives but give a treatise or exposition on how Stuff Works, like college. And the law. And free-range kids. In conversations I try to be kindest to the adult in question while being entirely honest (many people who don’t school stay in the closet, so to speak – and there are many compelling reasons to do so). This keeps me relaxed and enjoying the conversation. No, really. But I really do get the vibe that when my children display epic talents or literacy or math skills or social skills I’m looked at as an exceptionally “good mom” (I’ve already written on this), whereas, in the case of questioning and commentary on the lines I received today (Ignorant to Semi-Hostile, with Socially Polite Overtones), I can feel the beady eye on my kids and any, at all, “backwards” or squirellyness or even unusual sartorial expression is received with an arch eyebrow. Whatever.
Anyway, today my son had kids at the door all day long begging him to come out and run the neighborhood. My daughter (after putting finishing touches on her new blog) in her evening frock attended the hospital with me to visit a newborn and new mom, speaking directly and considerately to mom, friend, and hospital staff. Earlier she and her brother cooked and did dishes and laundry with me entirely peaceably, took care of pets, and socialized and assisted at an evening party of my mother’s. It’s not like I’m writing about Performance, I’m just saying, it’s really weird to be considered default=Batshit by so many for doing things that are Entirely Normal and work out really, really well.