“Why aren’t you in school?” Strangers will ask my children when we visit the library or store during traditional school hours.
“We are. We’re homeschooled.”
A pause, and a response. Oh
I can tell exactly what that person is thinking by the sound of the Oh.
If it is drawn out with a slight high pitch at the end Oh, isolated, with no companion words then it means, “Oh-You are one of THEM”. We are sized up as right wing conservatives, backward fundamentalists intent on brainwashing our kids while sequestering them from the real world. Oh the stranger repeats, her smile fades as she walks away.
This person is thinking: “Oh, I’ve heard about homeschooling. You do that? What about socialization? How will your kids ever adjust in society if they are not allowed the opportunity to interact thirty-five hours a week with their peers and are never introduced to objective, educated, professional teachers. Don’t you agree they are more qualified than you to teach your children?“ She shakes her head and clicks her tongue as she disappears into the crowd.
If the Oh is light and followed by a sigh, then the thought is, “Oh, I wish I could do that. I would love to homeschool my kids, but I can’t. I have to work, and honestly, I just don’t have the patience. My kid and I would butt heads.” Good luck is added before she walks away.
Then there is the Oh I long for, but rarely hear. The Oh! is said with excitement and recognition. This time, words are spoken.
Oh, I should have realized you were home-schoolers. I home-schooled my three children. My eldest is in his first year of med school, my middle one a sophomore at Harvard majoring in political science, and my youngest just got accepted to the Culinary Institute of America. They are well adjusted, flexible, creative adults. I’m so glad I chose to homeschool, they are too!
My hero gives me a hug, wishes us well and waves goodbye.
Imagine that. I can tell what people are thinking by the sound of a simple two-letter word.
Hey-thanks for reading. I’m Kathy, wife to Gary, and mom to three teenage sons. I’ve been a family nurse practitioner since 1991 and currently practice in addiction medicine. I also negotiate clinical placements for APN grad students. We’re home schoolers with a dash of un-schooling. My most memorable celebrity patient: the Munchkin Coroner from the Wizard of Oz.