Ok, I’m going to have
We’re in the middle of

I had my cousin’s kids

I had my cousin’s kids for the day on Friday. Her son, Dakota, is 11, and her daughter, Myranda, is almost 8. My kids love them, they love my kids, and so it is a happy day around here when Melyssa (my cousin, their mom) has to be somewhere and leaves them with us.
Friday was just such a happy day. The weather was beautiful, spirits were high, and we were off to the zoo. Once we got there I realized my zoo membership had expired, so I got in line to renew. Raphael wandered around my legs, climbed up on my shoulders, tried to make a break for the parking lot more than once, and generally was a two year old about the whole waiting thing. The other kids sat down and waited with admirable patience. A mom in line behind me watched us for a while, noting the very many children around me. Finally she ventured a tentative, “Oh my. Are they all yours?”
“No, not all of them. Just around 60%,” I replied glibly. She pondered that a moment, probably working out the math. “What…what school do they go to?” She was wondering what these school aged kids were doing at the zoo at 11:20 on a school morning. “Actually,” I said confidently, “they’re homeschooled.
I’ve found, for the most part, that people don’t question you if you seem comfortable with your choices. It’s like when the boys were babies, and I sometimes nursed them in public. Oh, relax. I didn’t flash boob or anything. I was very discrete. But if a baby’s hungry and your milk is letting down…there are worse things you could do. If I sat there, miserably aware of every glance my direction, people noticed. Noticed me and my discomfort, and wished we would go away. But if I sat casually, smiling comfortably at people if they stared, they relaxed and left me alone. And if they did get upset, it was really their problem.
Well, people tend to react the same way when I mention homeschooling. When I first decided to not send Tre to public school, I answered people’s questions rather defensively. A simple “Isn’t Tre going to be in kindergarten in the fall?” was met with a tirade on homeschooling’s advantages and my qualifications and the problems with public schools. More than one person I set out to convince this way left the conversation with far more concerns about my choice than they would have had I not defended myself so heartily.
This is my third year homeschooling, and I’m fairly relaxed about it. I really don’t have any agenda about what anyone else should be doing with their kids. Really. Some of my best friends send their kids to public schools. I know where I’m headed, and I see how well it’s working for my boys. So when people ask, I nod and reply confidently, “Actually, they’re homeschooled.” End of discussion for most people. Or at least, end of argument. Discussion’s always interesting.
But on Friday at the zoo, my calm pronouncement didn’t ease this woman’s concerns. “Really? How OLD are they?” I explained the ages of my sons and their grade levels. She shook her head. “Hmm. Seems…like a difficult thing to do.”
“Well,” I replied, “the hard part is the research. Finding out what approach you want to take and finding the materials you need and getting everything organized. After that, it’s just your daily life.”
“I don’t know,” she was still shaking her head. Hadn’t she noticed my confidence? “Seems to me that’s something you could do up until about…third grade.” Um…I’d just told her that Tre’s in third grade, I thought. “After that, one person could never offer the breadth of what a classroom experience can.”
Well, my hackles were up. The way I saw it, she was informing me that I was a moron, and deluded in my belief that I could meet the educational needs of my children. I, who have spend hundreds of hours researching the subject of homeschooling, who have read and talked to and taken classes from more homeschooling experts than she could imagine, I who have actual experience homeschooling, couldn’t understand the ramifications of my decision like she could. Humph. I launched into my defense of my choices, and impassioned lecture on the merits of home education and my qualifications. That worked as well as ever, and by the time I was done she was outright glaring at me, convinced of my wrong-headedness.
“Well,” she sniffed, “I would just never think I could ever offer nearly as good an education as a school.”
“Well,” I sniffed right back, “if that’s what you think, you’re probably right.”
And yet again, I made someone's doubts much worse with my debate technique.
When will I learn to smile and nod and let things go?


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