Ladies and gentlemen, do you know what time it is? With the warmer days and being-outside-ness of it all? Why, it’s time for another episode of my favorite socially awkward game, Finding Reasons to Feel Sad for Your Homeschooled Weirdos!
For anyone new to this cultural peculiarity, allow me to explain how the game works. Your first step is to identify a public location in which you and your kids can, during typical school hours, engage in some sort of task. The more benign, the better: Nothing that involves a church bus or spelling bee or Duggar family friend. Extra points if the task requires that your children interact with other children (I know, CRAZY).
Second, place yourself and your children in this scenario. Make sure to leave your denim jumper at home – spoilers ruin the game!
Wait for the questions.
They will come. When they do, they will fall into one of three categories:
- The genuinely curious. Harmless. Nice folks. Not part of the game.
- The mommy warriors. These are the women who will respond to your explanation of, “We homeschool” with a 5-10 minute monologue about how they wish they could homeschool but little Susie just needs this-and-that-and-the-other-thing that ONLY school offers and Johnny Jr. is just sooooo social and their school is the bestbestbest one around and if it wasn’t all so perfect and wonderful then homeschooling would totally be the next option and more-rambling-to-justify-self-imposed-feelings-of-inadequacy because honestly? I DON’T CARE. And I’m guessing that you, dear game player, are like me in that you don’t really care, either. Different families, different right-things, different choices. Be nice to these people. They’re insecure. Also not part of the game.
- The ammunition-seekers. The ammunition seekers will try to present as being genuinely curious, but the progression of questions from, “Hey, shouldn’t those kids be in school?” to a lightning-quick, “Don’t you want them to have friends?” (or something similar) will be your giveaway.
The ammunition-seekers are your game.
Now you’re ready to begin.
The game itself is easy. Getting set up in a benign public location – that’s the hard part. Especially if you have a toddler or preschooler who would rather pull his own face off than wear pants or is currently experiencing a completely logical meltdown upon learning that airplanes do not have eyebrows.
In fact, the game has just a single, very easy to remember rule. Once ammunition-seekers lock their targets on you, you have one job and one job only:
TOTALLY MESS WITH THESE PEOPLE.
Let’s be frank, absolutely nothing you say is going to fly with ammunition-seekers. You know it, I know it. They already feel sorry for your kids and nothing’s going to change that. So instead of trying to sway them, turn the tables. Give them lots of reasons to feel sorry for your homeschooled kids. Rather than listening to a stranger fret that your offspring will never have friends while you’re both standing on the sidelines of the soccer game that your kid is playing in with her friends, use your time to tell Concerned Ammunition-Seeking Stranger all of the wonderful and varied reasons why she should legitimately agonize over your kids’ tragic lots in life.
It helps to make a list.
Here’s a sampling of mine.
Reasons You Should Feel Sorry for My Homeschooled Kids
- I am a disorganized cook. I’m not a bad cook, but as a fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pants sort, I am woefully underprepared for any activity I undertake, including cooking. This results in food preparation moments like, “I don’t know where the measuring cup is, but I bet that I can eyeball it with that spatula,” and “Oh no, I don’t have any buckwheat to put in this cream of buckwheat, but rice would probably be kind of the same.” Feel sorry for my kids that meals are never entirely what they expect them to be, and that meals they really love are perpetually impossible to recreate.
- Nick and I eat their candy when they’re not looking. Actually, it worries me a little that neither child seems to notice that their stockpiles of Halloween and Easter candy mysteriously dwindle down to nothing while sitting in storage on top of the fridge. Kind of a big miss, no? Maybe I should get their eyes checked. Or not… when they figure it out, I’ll have to start buying my own jellybeans.
- We have too many animals. Things that have been said, in all seriousness, in our house:
Me: “Stop kissing that chicken before she pecks out your eyes!”
Aidan: “Ohhh nooo, I fell in the pee… again.”
Isabel: “That’s not the kitten, it’s just some of Oliver’s shedded fur.”
- My kids read too much, and don’t play enough video games. Honest to goodness, no exaggerating, an ammunition-seeker once waved a finger my my face and informed me that my children will never have friends if they don’t play video games, because video games are the basis for how kids play together on the playground. I had to concede the point. My kids don’t know how to imitate video games in real life. Don’t feel sorry for my kids about this – feel sorry for them that I don’t care.
- I’m lousy at putting henna in my hair. Every few months I get a bug up my butt about wanting to darken my hair. Every few months I buy henna, forget that I’m lousy at it, and spend an hour flinging henna-paste about my head, neck, and every exposed surface in the bathroom. Every few months I think this will make my hair more brown. Every few months it instead makes my hair orange. Every few months my kids tell me my hair looks nice. Every few months my kids are darned liars. Every few months I reward their lies and add another tick mark to the list of reasons why my kids will someday need therapists and/or parole officers.
- Our kids are in too many activities. Dancing. Gymnastics. Swim/Gym. Art. Crossfit Kids. Soccer. Basketball. DOES THE MADNESS NEVER END??? How will they ever learn to interact with others or be part of a team if they’re not sitting by themselves in a desk all day, being reprimanded for talking to their neighbors? For shame.
Now it’s your turn… Why should we feel sorry for your homeschooled kids?