Sunday, November 1, 2009

Because It's Sunday Night...

and so I have school tomorrow on my mind...

I recently was on the receiving end of two comments about homeschooling:

Scenario #1:

"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)

Scenario #2:

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.


Hen Jen said...

scenario #2 offends me greatly...!

I'm also offended by parents who let their toddlers get up in the morning, pour themselves some sugary cereal and eat by themselves parked in front of morning cartoons for 4 hours, maybe we should mandate parental cooking classes...

people who put 'baby on board' stickers on their cars also offend me...

people who eat peas offend me

just wow, run far away from this woman!!

rita said...

People like that woman (either of them) offend me. Self-righteous morons who just keep on reproducing and bringing more morons into their little world.

My sister home-schooled her daughter the last two years of high school, and the girl did wonderfully. She went to dog-grooming school and now owns her own very successful business. She was bottoming out in school due to social anxiety and bullying and because Special Ed (she has a learning disability) made things worse for her.

My daughter considers homeschooling her kids; fortunately for her, they're now in a good school that meets their needs. Very poor county, but much better schools than the higher-income county they'd started out in.

I say fortunately for my daughter because she doesn't have much of an attention span, so I think she'd tire of the responsibility quickly, but if she chooses to homeschool the kids, I'll be right behind her. Maybe with a whip to keep her going, but she'll have my support.

You're doing a wonderful thing with your kids. They sound advanced academically and well-adjusted socially.

Don't let a few morons get you down!

rita said...

And while we're on the subject, here's what offends me:

Those damn PT Cruisers and the Chevy knock-off.

Green peppers. Any kind of pepper, actually.

Home-made hamburgers.

Hot dogs.


Closed-minded people.

I'm sure there are more, but my brain is in hibernation mode.

melissa said...

Awwww...welcome to the wondrful world of home school. Just smile and say that you are planning to sell your home, move to the country and take up worm farming. ;-)That makes it much more fun!

Urban Mom said...

Thanks, guys! Melissa & Jen, I'm such a dope for giving much thought to any of this. We're just getting started and are complete newbies at it. I shouldn't spend much time on these things. Well, at least most of the time was spent rolling my eyes and laughing it off. Still, it made fair blog fodder.
Rita, you always give me food for thought and a laugh!

G said...

I get offended by people at work who act like I am insane to homeschool. Oh well, can't please everyone, and I'm too busy to try!

Btw, did you ever figure out what a "typical" homeschool mom is?

Tiffany said...

I am offended by self righteous pretentious twits who somehow never have learned to mind their own business.

Uptown Girl said...

how rude! I'd be so pissed off -even if she doesn't deserve tiem or energy...
I was homeschooled for a year and a half. I hated school so so much and met a girl who was homeschooled. I begged and pleaded with my mom to homeschool me. She agreed. It was a great experience. It also had nothing to do with creation v evolution. What year does she think this is anyway?
I'd love to meet that woman and show her what it means to be offended...

Urban Mom said...

You guys are so wonderful! I suppose there's some sort of joke about her getting a Homeschool Beatdown in there. Smack her around, but use please and thank you and be all polite while doing it... then turning it into a physiology lesson of some kind... oh man, my mind is wandering into some weird territories just now! (evil snicker)

rita said...

Good for you!!!