and so I have school tomorrow on my mind...
I recently was on the receiving end of two comments about homeschooling:
"You're not like a typical homeschool mom."
This was meant as a compliment by a very nice young woman. But I was left wondering...
What exactly are her expectations of a homeschool mom? Was her intent to say that I exceed them somehow?
How many homeschool moms has she encountered?
Were they enough for her to make an assumption about an entire group?
Would she say something like this about any other group? For example, "you're not like a typical gay man?" or "you're not like a typical white woman?"
Just about everyone to whom I mention our educational decision for our kids responds that they know someone who has done or is doing this, so are we all that "fringe" anymore? (more on that topic here)
There's a public school at the end of our block. On the weekends, the neighborhood kids often play there, whether they attend the school or not. One particular mom asked the inevitable question that follows, "How old is Urban Kid 1?" after learning that she is six: "Where does she go to school? Here at the Neighborhood School?" Upon my truthful and cheerful reply, she emphatically shared that some people who homeschool "really offend" her. She expanded on it having to do with the teaching of creation theories. And then repeated how "really and truly offended" she was on the topic.
She then turned her back on me, not really interested in hearing my response.
Ok, seriously lady? That offends you? Frankly, my own plan for that particular topic is to teach Darwin's thoughts on it for Science and the other schools of thought on the topic under the umbrella of Philosophy. I do not plan to teach the Urban Kids that either school of thought is offensive.
Frankly, since becoming a parent, and especially since exploring educational options, I have come to the heartfelt conclusion that your children are yours to raise. Outside of doing the obvious abuses of them (because that is actually offensive), parents should be allowed to raise their kids any way they want. You want to go up to the top of a mountain, pour purple ink all over yourselves and chant at the moon? Knock yourself out. Don't get me wrong -- it's highly unlikely that your kids will be having too many playdates with the Urban Kids -- but as a parent, if you're otherwise stable and that's your idea of recreation, then it's your right to go right ahead. I'll be left scratching my head, but I won't work myself up to being "offended" about it.
This decision is proving to be the best option for our family at this stage of life. It matches with our educational goals and our values. (while religion was not an overwhelming factor in the decision, values definitely were; you could say they're related, but let's actually meet in person for coffee for that chat, shall we? i promise to not get offended.)
Ok, back on track --
I would not expect that this decision would be the best option for your family. I would enthusiastically share what I've learned and send you in various directions for your own research, but never in a million years would I be offended at whatever decision you might make for your kids.
Urban Kid 1 socializes -- yes, folks, she spends time with other children, is invited to birthday parties and play dates, etc -- with kids from all over the spectrum of life. She lives in a neighborhood known for its gay population. She is buddies with a neighborhood kid who goes to a $21,000 a year private school instead of the one at the end of our block. She is buddies with a kid who goes to a tiny Catholic school instead of the one at the end of our block. She is buddies with a couple of kids who go to the public school in the next neighborhood. Another buddy attends a Montessori school all the way in Evanston instead of the neighborhood school! She is buddies with kids of various religions, ethnicities and incomes. Most of the parents of Urban Kid's buddies have diametrically opposing political views as our own (some assume that we agree because we are too polite to delve into what could be an "offensive" argument, but that's a different post). Urban Dad stands in front of students who are quite literally from all over the world; we make it a point to get the Urban Kids up there to hang out.
And for the most part, we're a private bunch. We wake up each day and go about our business. We practice good manners when we leave the house. We get out and about and do fun activities and make friends. We don't assume that others are offensive because they're going about things in a way that would not work for us.
I figure that we're all shooting for the same basic goals, and that we're all finding our own roads to getting there, be they stereotypical or not. And that this is cool -- not offensive.
Perhaps I'm over-reacting. I'm certainly giving it more time than it all deserves. It just all gave me a bit of pause.
Viva la difference.