I honestly don’t remember a whole lot about what drove me to beg Mom to homeschool me in second grade. But one vivid memory has stuck with me: a classmate telling me “hey my parents say your family’s weird.” My older brothers had already been victimized by bullies, you see, and our family name was mud. Sure, we were “weird” because we weren’t from the same inbred genetic cesspool that everyone else in that county was. (We came from a completely different cesspool, thank you very much.) Anyway, I begged, and Mom pulled me out of public school.
Now, other homeschool blogs will paint a rosy picture of socialization, with co-ops and clubs and a million other things that exhaust me just reading about. I didn’t have any of those opportunities when I was homeschooled. My mom did as well as she could, but we were outcasts in a rural community, pre-internet, and there’s really nothing to do. We did go to some kind of co-op get-together, once. The other moms there were the kind that chop horns off My Little Pony unicorns. Unforgivable. And so, we never went back. That’s all I really remember about it.
Another thing Mom did for me was enroll me at summer kids classes at the local university. Any hopes of making social progress there were shattered when, in gymnastics, doing pullups, I farted – with EVERYONE watching. A preteen girl cannot live that down. (Bathroom humor seems to be in vogue now, but back then it was very much a faux pas and I was a pariah.) Anyway, that pretty well sums up all my experiences with socializing.
Am I socially awkward? Hah hah hah, absolutely. But… I hate to break it to you, but there are socially awkward kids at schools, too. In my case, homeschooling didn’t cause social awkwardness. It was already there. I could never have been a social butterfly, because it’s not in my nature.
I liked the idea of socialization. I was a voracious reader of Sweet Valley Twins and Babysitters Club. I loved learning the concepts of interpersonal relationships. I wanted to have friends. I remember asking Mom once to send me back to school – then she reminded me about things I’d have to put up with, like locker rooms and public showers, and I was like “hah hah hah no”. That was the end of that line of questioning, and I willingly continued homeschooling.
I kind of had the vague notion that after I graduated homeschool, I would get a job and go to college and friends would just happen. The job and college did come true. But I couldn’t figure out conversations. People weren’t interested in the things I was interested in. My peers were occupied with going out and getting drunk. I didn’t have anything to say to them. Now you might say, “ah-hah, lack of social skills, that’s from homeschooling”. You can believe what you want. But I know I always was, always will be, an outsider. Public school wouldn’t have “cured” me.
Anyway, my point is, homeschooling doesn’t guarantee socialization the way the warm and fuzzy homeschool blogs will tell you. I’m not going to sugar-coat it. But for me, in that climate, it was the right choice. And maybe I don’t know how to converse eloquently, but so what? Not everyone does, private/public/homeschool alike.
P.S. Yes, to prove I’m not deficit, I did go on to earn a bachelor’s degree, which I now regret as the biggest resource waste of my life. But that’s another story.
P.P.S. Also, since those early days, I have gone out and got drunk; and it wasn’t that great.