Over the weekend I had opportunity to experience two opposite views of my homeschooling. Long ago I got used to that long polite pause that usually accompanies the "oh, we don't go to school; we HOMEschool".....I've gotten used to the two reactions. One, the long pause that you know means "this lady is absolutely crazy and has no idea the damage she's doing to her kids"...often accompanied by a statement like "but don't they drive you CRAZY all day?? When do you get your house clean?". While working at the Y this weekend I was having a discussion with a regular person who comes in who works for a local school bus company. His first comment was, "Granted, people are entitled to do what they want, but I don't believe in that whole thing". I looked at him sadly. What "whole thing"? Why is it that so many think that the thing to do is to send those most precious to us off to others for the day so that they can be taught better? My oldest went to school for several years, and those who are coming to me now with homeschool questions voice the same concerns that their children are having that my daughter articulated day after day. "Mom, it's BORING....all we do is WAIT". Kids are "branded" by cliques and teachers alike.....labels abound -- the "cool" kids, the "losers", the "geeks", the "problem children", the "jerks", the "stupid" ones......the list goes on and on. My friend explained that he thought kids NEEDED to go to school everyday, because their parents could never prepare them for the real world. Someday they'd be off on their own, and they needed to know how to deal with it all. Generally I respond right away, defending homeschooling to the end while trying to educate the ignorant a bit. But this time I kept strangely silent, as I could tell in his eyes that there would be no changing of the mind....and I was sad for the countless numbers that have bought into the whole "educational" system. And I am grateful that I am no longer bound by the myths.
On the opposite end, I went last night to play piano at a little church in Pburg that does a prayer and praise service. Every now and then I go and play and sing; the pastor and I used to work together, and his wife is a dear who I love to sing with. She asked about the girls and grabbed my hands and blurted out, "God will BLESS you for caring about them....for nobody knows their souls better than you do". I silently thanked her for the affirmation that we all need, despite the fact that we know inside that what we are doing is a vocation. He's entrusted them to us, and we DO know them better. When a certain curriculum or teaching style doesn't work, we find one that does. The schools would say that we're spoiling them, and that they need to "assimilate". But we know that that's the myth......what we are really doing is giving them what they NEED to become who God wants them to be.
I get reactions all the time from people....some in my family think I'm nuts, and think I'm rubbing it in their faces because we're "better" than they. Well, in all honesty, I think we ARE. We have been given such a gift to know our children like nobody else can, and to learn and grow along with them. We have learned what it's like to be truly selfless. We have been allowed to teach not just facts, or even integrity, but spirituality and faith.....and those elements change what we do. Granted, there are many good Christian parents out there that raise perfectly wonderful kids that go to school, and I commend them for it, since they have less time to do it in than we do. But I'll take my vocation over theirs anyday of the week. Some will always think I'm nuts; others may secretly wish they "had what it takes", and some will openly express what I believe to be true...that God is truly going to bless this endeavor.....that my kids will grow up to be strong, independent thinkers who will not succumb to societal views, but live with an open mind and a strong sense of self worth and confidence about who they are.