Friday, September 2, 2011

Finding the Courage to Say It Out Loud

Earlier this year the idea of homeschooling my children came barreling toward me straight out of left field.  I had never ever considered educating my children in that way.  As the child of a public school teacher and a product of the public school system from kindergarten to college degree, I had always planned on sending my children to the excellent public schools in my area.

However as we know the best laid plans can be blown to smithereens (yes, it's a word) when God intervenes.  There is no other way to explain the course we are now on than to say that God spoke to me in a big way and for once in my life I followed without questioning. 

Once I made the decision to homeschool I was blessed to find other cool moms in my area who were embarking on the same journey - and there wasn't a denim jumper to be found in the whole group.  We began talking about the how to's of homeschooling: how to choose curriculum, how to organize your day, how to fit in field trips, how to socialize your children so they don't end up nerds. 

 I'm only kidding; that's just a little homeschool humor.

And then we began discussing the inevitable small-talk question every person encounters in suburbia, "So, where do your kids go to school?"  It's an innocent enough question.  It's usually just a conversation starter and I had never given it a second thought.  That is, until we were homeschoolers.  I then discovered that this is the question every homeschool parent dreads in the beginning.  

A friend of mine who would now be considered a veteran homeschooler recounted the story of the time her then 5 year old daughter was at the dentist.  The mom was in the waiting room flipping through a magazine but she could hear the conversation from where she sat.  The dentist asked her daughter what grade she was in.  "Kindergarten!" she exclaimed with the enthusiasm only a kindergartener can muster.  "Where do you go to school?", the dentist asked.  My friend stopped flipping the pages of the magazine and time stood still for one long second.  "I'm homeschooled!" the daughter replied.  And then my friend began searching the waiting room for a hole in which to climb.  

It wasn't the daughter who was hesitant to answer the question, it was the mother.  I have since experienced the same thing with my son.  We have been asked by friends, family and complete strangers in the grocery store about where he will be attending kindergarten this year and Superman answers with the same enthusiasm, "I do homeschool!"  I smile a sheepish grin at the inquirer and give a slight nod to confirm that it is indeed true - we are homeschoolers.  It's not that I'm embarrassed of the fact that we homeschool; indeed the opposite is true.  I am excited that we homeschool!  It's the recipient I am concerned with.  Will they think we're weird?  Will they make a snap judgement of me and my family when they hear we homeschool?  Will they think my choice to homeschool is a condemnation of their decision to send their children to public or private school?  All of these thoughts and a million more are swimming around in my head as I am smiling and nodding.  

I am finding, though, that every time I have to say it out loud I gain a little more confidence.  I stand up a little straighter.  I find my voice a little stronger as I confirm that yes, we homeschool  I have found courage in the form of a brown-haired 5 year old little boy.

And a little child shall lead them.

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