Saturday, August 18, 2007

Home School Conferences: Steer Clear or Be Zombified

So I go to the Home Schooling Conference today. It almost scared me straight...into public schools and all that that implies.

First, the registration line stretched to the door. Ahead of me were two families and twenty kids. One lady had four blond, blue-eyed boys ages two to five. Cute as widdle buttons, they were. Ahead of her a bigger, motley crew. Who has time for a bath when there's one bathroom for sixteen kids? Be fruitful and multiply, indeed.

After filling out paperwork, receiving badges, a complimentary nap sack filled with a plethora of Helpful Information, I thought this is just the beginning. Holy crap! I'm screwed! All this paperwork, the pressure, the people. They have sixteen kids and home school and I can't even change my kid's soaked diaper by lunchtime.

It got worse and scarier. There were the ladies with do rags. I think they're Mennonites, but I'm not sure. Hey, that's alright. I'm all for religious freedom and what not. Still, what up with wearing the nun-hat and having sixteen kids? No make-up, clothes without buttons, every kid looking like a Van Trapp reject. Forget the curtains, I think that kid is wearing a repurposed pillowcase. This scene kind of confirms stereotypes, you know?

And then you see them altogether. Hundreds of children, pale, obedient, absurdly intelligent children, with intense, unyielding eye contact. I was in Village of the Damned. Who are these zombie children and what planet did they come from? None of them pushed or shoved. No punching. No whining. No tans. No muscle tone.

You see, there are a variety of reasons people don't home school. Reason number one: Zombie Children. Oh, they're nice to talk to. Their breadth of knowledge is superseded only by their depth of understanding. They'll share interesting anecdotes and give pithy comments and you will slowly start backing away because you are terrified. And by you, I mean me. My philosophy professor in college was more superficial. People see these kids and they see mini-adults who have all the qualities they wish their children possessed and yet, when they see them in real life, they get say to themselves, "You know maybe I was too hard on Johnny's teacher last year. Our problem is our excessive expectations. Why are we so obsessed with the alphabet? Sheesh! There's always fifth grade!" And off to public school Johnny goes.

I almost ran way. Truly. The kicker was throwing up a bit in my mouth at the subservient women shuffling a few steps behind their pasty, underemployed husbands. You know the guy, he's always working on some "mission work" or he stays at some crappy job because he's "ministering" to his co-workers which is code for he's ministering to the secretary while bringing home an STD and 200 bucks a week. (That was just wrong.)

And all this happened before I walked into the exhibition hall. Once there, I found some normal people, but I had to seek for a while. The Boy Scout guys were normal--muscle tone, firm handshakes, familiarity with fire arms. The science guy from the Natural Science Museum was abnormally normal--gaunt frame, pony tail, toothy grin. The sports people all acted normal, too. And when I went to the booth that featured the curriculum I was curious about using with my children, teenage boys greeted me. Nice, but smartalecky, too. Normal teenagers! Jackpot! They were helping out their moms, who were normal. I'm buying that curriculum for one reason only: the normal kids.

All in all, I think it's better if I don't go to home schooling conferences. Home schooling is freaky enough without witnessing all the terrifying evidence that the product from this endeavor will be a freaky kid. Freaky smart. Freaky kind. Freaky friendly. Freaky. Freaky. Freaky.

And on a different, but similarly surreal note: Target was nuts today. Are people worried about being drowned in a flash flood or killed by a falling tree courtesy Hurricane Dean? No. They are worried about saving sales tax on the clothes they are buying for their kids at full price. No one seems to realize that the big discounts come over Labor Day and the 40% off then far exceeds the 10% tax savings now. So Target was mobbed and the rain poured outside. Again.

And Dean screams. But that's a problem for a different day. Today, t-shirts and jeans.

Target had an ignored water display and the few emergency kits were nearly sold out. In The Woodlands there are three semi-prepared people. And I am one of them. My husband guffaws at my preparation. We'll see who's laughing come next Wednesday. It probably won't be me. I'm the over-prepared optimist. I hope it won't happen, but just in case.

I'm an optimist. I'll home school, but my kids will turn out normal. That notion was debatable with a public school education, but somehow, being chained to the kitchen table doing flash cards with me will make them normal. See? That's what makes me an optimist.


Anonymous said...

you have such a way with words. sarcasm, sarcasm, sarcasm!

none the less, could not agree with you more about these kinds of kids and conferences of this sort.

AMac said...

Love your description. But as a public school vet, current dad with two in parochial schools, there's always the element of pick your poison in contemplating schooling choices. The stories I'd tell are different, but some of the gist would be the same. Finding an evidence-based curriculum that feels right to you and works for your individuals--that has to be a key.

kal said...

dr. clouthier sarcastic? what? never would have thought!