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At Least He Didn’t Mention Beans

At Least He Didn’t Mention Beans

October 22, 2005

There is a certain subset of people who, upon finding out that you homeschool, feel the need to ask the children what they have been learning or quiz them on their math facts, historical dates, or some trivial tidbit of information. It is always done under the guise of making conversation, but I hate the way it puts the children on the spot. Especially when the children are faced with people who like to try and trick them by asking, “What is the thirteenth planet from the sun?” or “In what season do seagulls hibernate?”

I want to tell people to knock it off. It isn’t funny and frankly my children are too polite and respectful to call you an ass like you deserve, at least out loud. But I know they must be thinking it, they are being raised by me after all. Sometimes I will turn the question around, and in the same tone of false cheer ask, “So, what have you been doing that is worthy of note lately?”

The question– what are you learning?– always makes me cringe. Invariably one or more of the children will answer, “nothing.” Though I know that children who go to school answer this way too, for some reason it makes me feel like a failure, like I haven’t stimulated my children enough or provided them with interesting topics which they could discuss at length. And although I know that isn’t true, and that I don’t need to prove anything to anyone, I can’t help but feel silently judged by how my children respond.

So when I overheard the librarian ask my children what they had been learning, I felt that familiar tightening in my throat. My 10 yr old replied that I had just taught them a great poem. The librarian was intrigued, and I’ll admit I was too. Emerson? a Shakespearean couplet? Shel Silverstein? I hoped it wasn’t going to be Dr. Seuss, because that would be a bit embarrassing hearing one of them recite The Foot Book and call it poetry.

I edged closer to the doorway of the children’s room so I could hear every word. My heart was swelling with pride; the constricting in my throat beginning to ease.

He began, “Excuse me for being rude, It was not me it was my food. It got so lonesome down below it just came up to say, hello.”

And when the ground didn’t open up and swallow me whole, I gave thanks that he didn’t precede the poem with a hearty belch like at home. I have to look for the positive wherever I can find it some days.

Suddenly “nothing” seemed like a perfectly acceptable, if not preferable, answer.

Posted by Chris @ 11:10 am  

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Comments

  1. biz says:

    LOL (a most overused term in internet world) but so often really happening when I read your writing(s).

  2. Hannah says:

    I’ve been lurking for some time and enjoying your blog.
    I’m a homeschooler too and this was so familiar to me. Actually I myself had to get out of the habit of putting the kids on display to Grandparents, who were ever dubious of homeschooling, with their newest found information.
    Nobody seems to care to ask what schooled children are learning, which is a shame because if more people did maybe I wouldn’t have made that choice in the first place……..

  3. Sarah says:

    God, that must be annoying.
    Your son, though? Hilarious.

  4. robiewankenobie says:

    living proof that you’re teaching them to think for themselves. i think that second guessing yourself is a built in feature of motherhood. you can tell from your journal entries that you are enjoying yourself, and think you’re doing a good job. screw the unwashed masses. i’m hella impressed, myownsef.

  5. Buffi says:

    Please don’t teach my daughter that poem. Please. I’ll pay you.

  6. lipstickface says:

    OMG. I LOVE your children.
    LOVE. THEM.

    Thank God they dont know any limericks…yet.

  7. nabbalicious says:

    Your kids absolutely crack me up every time!

    I may have to teach my oldest nephew that poem next time I see him.

  8. Kate says:

    Well if it makes you feel any better we went to traditional school and had the nothing comment all the time. Oh and my brothers loved saying poems just like the one your son said.

    It is ashame that people feel such a need to judge others/

  9. Lisa says:

    Why are bodily functions such ripe territory for poetry? It could have been worse, he could have started with “There once was a man from Nantucket….”

  10. Meg says:

    Chris, I think this proves that your kids are learning exactly what they need to at home…

  11. Julie says:

    Has your son been watching Austin Powers? :)
    Kudos to you for homeschooling!

  12. Neb says:

    Yeah, I don’t know what’s up with the whole “homeschooled kids must not be learning as much as other kids” thing? The practice of homeschooling far predates what we now think of as “traditional” school, and, in my opinion, is somewhat more natural. Why do people jump to the conclusion that homeschooling must be inferior? I was homeschooled from 3rd grade through 12th, and am now in graduate school working on a Master’s degree in mathematics. So I guess I turned out okay. ;-)

  13. wendy says:

    Oh yeah…I know all about this one. We’ve been homeschooling for about 9 months now, and have had to deal with the “what are you learning?” comment more than I ever imagined possible. I thought occassionally well-meaning relatives or possibly neighbors would ask; what I didn’t expect was every single time we leave our house some Nosy Nellie would feel the need to inquire as well. It gets old. My kids are shy around people they don’t know, so they most often smile and refuse to answer. Then I jump in and pick the most impressive thing we’ve done recently and boast about that! ;-) That will usually get the kids to talking (if I want them to, anyway), so it doesn’t look like I’ve brainwashed them into little robots. Works out well.

    I do have a problem though, in that I am always trying to get my kids to show-off around relatives and friends. I can’t help myself. I know it’s because I feel worried that people think I’m screwing them up. I just want people to understand that since we’ve been homeschooling my kids are happier, more comfortable with themselves, and are smarter than ever before.

    It sounds like you are doing a great job with your kids! They are super funny to boot!

    By the way–I LOVE the new look.

  14. Mom2the5rs says:

    I have been homeschooling for 6 years now…I think the best response is a sarcastic one. Maybe I will start jumping in and letting the enquiring minds know that “I have no intention of teaching my children anything significant, whatsoever.” Maybe I will add that “hell, if they can purchase a weekly lottery ticket and stay out of state prison, I’ll be happy with that.”

  15. Anonymous says:

    Now this is funny ;)