A few days ago I overheard a conversation while at one of T.B.M.’s extra activities.  It was between three girls, two of which attend public school and one who is homeschooled, the homeschooled girl is roughly 2-3 years younger than the other two girls.  One of the girls started the conversation by telling the girls what grade she was in and then asking the other girls their grades, the other public school girl told her grade and then turning away from the girl who is homeschooled goes –in a very condescending tone-“She’s homeschooled, so she doesn’t have a grade”.  At this point the homeschooled girl attempted to explain to them that it depends on the subject, like with many homeschoolers, but the girls just spoke over here never listening to what she was saying.  Then they started in “Well why are you homeschooled?”  “Do you even want to be homeschooled”.  The girl tried to once again explain what they do in her home and her mother’s reasons for choosing home education, she NEVER once said she didn't want to be homeschooled, in fact she was attempting to speak on the positives and getting repeatedly interrupted.  

Eventually the girl said that they just didn't understand and walked off to regroup her thoughts, my heart sank for her.  Not only because these girls weren't listening to her, but because a lot of it seemed very orchestrated.  I've watched her mother have to try to explain their reasons to others at this same place before and the things these young girls were saying seemed like they came right out of the mouths of the other women who had ganged up on the homeschooled girl’s mother before. 

The young girl eventually came back over and was content to just stand and wait until it was their time to take part, but the other girls weren’t finished.  Instead they started in “Well if your mom doesn’t think the schools are challenging enough she can just put you in the gifted class” and –this is the part that made me go WTF the most- “How is your parents able to even teach you?”.  How is?  How is?  Oh sweet grammar, she is really trying to promote public school and belittle homeschooling while using such horrible grammar?  They then tried to say things such as “Just talk to your mom about coming to real school, you know cause you don’t want to be homeschooled” and “Well if you come to regular school like us you will be able to meet more kids your age, which you really need to do.”  Seriously?  11 year olds really say that to one another?  My BS alarm was ringing-they had to of been prompted right?-, my blood was boiling, and yet I couldn’t speak. 

What would I say?  Well, I had a million and one things I wanted to say, but these are children-none of which included one of my children-.  Children, who clearly seemed to have been given an agenda, an orchestrated series of questions to ask and comments to make, which I found upsetting and sickening  I found myself wondering as T.B.M. and I got ready to go to the car if I should have said something, anything, to maybe make these young ladies think.  Would it have been worth it?  I’m sure the homeschooled girl would have appreciated it, but does that cross a line when it’s not your child?  Should we ensure that by a certain age they can defend homeschooling and our family’s choices?  Why do they even need to defend it?!  I think I was so floored that it was children saying it, I’ve heard adults make these comments millions of times-especially my own family-, but I’ve heard next to nothing from other children-especially of this caliber-.  The most I have directly heard was when General Disarray was asked one day which school he attended because, the boy who asked never sees him around school, he told the boy he was homeschooled, and the boy goes “Oh, well I wish we went to the same school so we could see each other more”.  I’m pretty sure this would have been the boy’s response no matter what, since we don’t live in the same school zone as him, and it’s an understandable response given their ages and how much fun they have when they are able to interact with each other. 

The exchange between the three girls though, has left a horrible taste in my mouth, and I wonder what would other homeschoolers do?  Would you sit and observe and internalize the interaction so you can better prepare your own children for similar interactions if they ever arise?  Would you speak up and tell the girls that every family has to make decisions for their family and sometimes these decisions aren’t the same as everyone else's, but these decisions are given a lot of thought.  And maybe if they are genuinely interested in learning about homeschooling they should either hush and listen to what the girl is saying or ask the girl’s mother why she made the choice she did?  Or would you do something else entirely? 

Should I be spending some time each day helping T.B.M. perfect a homeschooling elevator speech? 
Really what I want to know the most is WHY DO WE HAVE TO DEFEND THIS?!  Why do our CHILDREN have to defend this?!  I don’t see the kids at this activity who attend public or private school having to defend their parents choices for sending them to these institutions, but those of us who opt out of these institutions have to defend that decision, why the hell is that?! 

Why, why, why, why, WHY?!  

Copyright(c)2012 Rayven Holmes


  1. I also wonder about crossing that line with other children. Unless I see children treating another one horribly, I tend to stay out of their conversations, their play, their problems, etc.

    But if I know a child and/or her parents, I'd probably step in to an uncomfortable situation like that *or* go find the parent.

    It is irritating to have to defend our decisions, and I'm pretty much at the "It's nobody's business but our own point" with that. ;)

  1. I normally stay out of it too, because you also have to worry about the parents of these children. I've made a point of being more reserved at places I take the kids. I don't know many of these parents that well-despite us going there for nearly 3 years- mostly because of what I see and hear from them just makes my walls go up. I'll answer questions someone may ask, but I do so in a manner that basically says "this isn't up for discussion!". I feel bad for this girl and her mother though, they haven't reached that point yet, and are surrounded by people who aren't supportive of that decision. I often wonder if the negative crap we catch is because parents feel threatened in their own choice to send their kids to a public/private school.

  1. Just to give a slightly different perspective... I was home schooled and my siblings and I were always expected to "make the case" if any argument arose and be great examples of how much better homeschooled kids when in public. I hated being paraded out to show off how smart I was when the TV crews came around (which as often, because my parents were big wigs in the scene and my Dad was always being interviewed by some media or another). The other girls were being mean jerks, and probably got their attitude from their parents, but at least no one was forcing the homeschooled girl to "take a stand". To me it's great that she was able to walk away when she got frustrated. I would have felt obliged to keep proselytising as a child.

  1. sigh. something always comes up in my daughter's dance class- and she's so heartbreakingly shy that I try and pay attention to catch any unpleasant questions or comments. i will speak up though- i don't think you should ever let bullying pass without comment (if it was my kids). i'd gently educate the offending kids in a firm way. who knows, maybe it'll open their eyes just a little.

  1. I'll tell you what I KNOW I would have done, I would have called that homeschooled girl over and said to her, "I heard you trying to explain. Too bad they can't listen. Why do you think it is that they totally couldn't listen to you?"

    She would have started talking about it and I would have listened. She would have been able to tell me, "Happens all of the time. I'm used to it." And, "I doubt I could be friends with that kind of person anyway..."

    There is no telling a closed-minded person anything new. But there IS supporting the person being "attacked". And, besides, the homeschooled girl knows something that all of us know too...It's not worth it.

    When a person has such parroted "opinions", they are not REALLY asking her any questions...only looking for an opening to tell everyone what the other person is "doing wrong."

    Always, always opt to support the kid.

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