(Originally posted 9/25/2008, 1:53 a.m.)
At around this time of year, when most kids have gone back to school, my children are a bit of an anomaly when we go out during the day, primarily because, well, they’re not in school. People often stop to chat with my kids, especially with my daughter, and ask her what grade she’s in, and did she have a day off school. As homeschoolers, we’re quite used to this attention from strangers by now, but the beginning of school is often when it’s most noticeable.
Anyway, one day a couple of weeks ago, something happened that had never happened before. After asking the usual questions (“Are they in school? Oh, how come you homeschool? How do you manage it with the two of them? And how do they get the socialization that they need?”), this particular questioner reached over and . . . shook my hand. “It looks like you’re doing a wonderful job. I want to thank you, and I’m so glad I got a chance to meet you and your children.” Wow. That made my month.
It’s not unusual for strangers or even friends and acquaintances to ask me and my husband why we choose to homeschool. But it is not common for us to hear such sincere praise, and paired with a solemn handshake at that. While I think that most people are genuinely curious about why we homeschool (another blog entry completely), I’ve learned over the years that not all questions are meant to draw out responses; more often than not, when other adults ask us, “Why are you homeschooling?”, it’s a defensive conversation-opener, designed to hear our reasons and then explain to us why their choice of schooling is just fine, thank you very much. (After that, comes the offensive.)
So to have a stranger genuinely want to know why we homeschool, without the defensive stance, and then agree with me wholeheartedly and shake my hand in admiration, well, that was something entirely new and wonderful.
What a great start to the new school year.