A few weeks ago a dear family that we used to go to church with came over for supper. We had a great time, and I very much enjoyed spending the evening with them. The girls and their son played UNO Attack while the adults were talking and, from time to time, standing around the table watching the intense competition. The subject of church apparently came up during one of the times we weren't standing around the table, and when their son found out that nearly all the kids at our church are homeschooled, he made the remark that he couldn't go to church there. Of course the girls were shocked at his statement and asked him why. You see, he has always attended public school and aside from our girls and one other boy at church(I'll be the first to admit that boy is a little unique), he has never met any homeschoolers. He assumed he'd be ostracized, or at the very least, looked at funny if he made a comment about something that happened at school. Long story short (it's probably too late for that), he was invited to attend church with us. At our church we are encouraged to bring lunch and hang around afterward to eat and fellowship, so when he joined us last week, we stayed for quite awhile after the service was concluded. Once we got home I asked him about it. Something along the lines of, "So, you just spent the entire morning, and part of the afternoon with nothing but a bunch of homeschooled kids. What did you think?" His answer was - brace yourselves - "They're just normal." I behaved myself very well, and said none of the things that I may have wanted to under other circumstances (You know, sarcastic things like, What?? Just normal?? They didn't kick you out of the ultimate frisbee game because you didn't, for some/any reason, fit into the crowd? Nobody looked at you funny? People talked to you even after they found out you were public schooled? - See I was good, not that I would have said that to a young person anyway - it's the adults I sometimes want to say those things to). I just assured him that, yes indeed, they are normal*, and he and the girls hung out and played games for the remainder of the afternoon.
Incorrect perceptions about homeschoolers apparently abound within the ranks of public schooled children, and I just have to wonder where those perceptions come from. Okay, I can understand him feeling as though he may be ostracized for being different. That would just come from his experiences in public school, but other things do not have any origin in personal experience. Like all the public school children that say things like, "Oh, I'm sorry for you." when they hear one of the girls mention that they are homeschooled (trust me, the girls have a ready answer when this sentiment is expressed). And what about all the public schooled kids that try to quiz my kids on everything from algebra to Spanish? The misconceptions don't stop at the children. One of the mothers on our street came right out and said she didn't want to homeschool because she wanted her child to have a good education. Of course, she quickly backpeddled and told us that she was sure ours had a good education. Good thing since it was my children she sent her daughter to for help on her homework. Her and her oldest son (in college) have also talked about homeschoolers being weird. Here again she backpeddled and told my kids that this did not include them. Hmmmm - I guess the origins of the kids' perceptions isn't so hard to find. I just wish we could break through these misconceptions. I've got to be honest when I say that I get very tired of some of the same old questions. And I really get tired of people quizzing the girls or asking them "Just exactly what is it you do all day?". If it were an honest question I would not have a problem with it, but it's not usually said in a "I'm sincerely curious and just want to learn more about you" kind of way. We're not even going to touch the "socialization" question - grrrr.
Yes, the kids are normal*, in the sense that they behave as the young people they are. This does not (thank goodness) mean they act in the "normal", silly, I'm more concerned about my (current) boyfriend and my clothes than anything else kind of way. In fact, when we went to a church with mostly public schooled children, my kids had very little to do with most of them, because, as my 17yr would say, they just didn't have anything real to talk about.
I'm glad they are normal*, and equally glad that they are not just your "average" kid.
*As a Christain humorist once wrote, "Normal is just a setting on your dryer." I love that!