“Oh, you homeschool?” the woman in the park asked. “Homeschooled kids are such good kids. You must be so proud…”
And I know what she was thinking, because I’ve heard it before. Homeschooled kids are so polite and so smart and so motivated to change the world.
Maybe some of them are. At times.
See, here’s the thing.
One of my always-been-homeschooled-and-should-be-smart-polite-and-motivated-to-change-the-world was sitting next to me in church last Sunday. I was listening to the sermon, trying to pick out the useful nuggets to apply in my daily life and in the process happened to look over to my eleven year old. He’d pulled his arms inside his t-shirt so just his hands stuck out the arm holes and was clawing at the air and all I could think is Good God, I’ve brought a baby T-Rex to church with me.
Polite? Smart? Motivated to change the world?
My kids can make their own meal when they wake up at 3 am but still haven’t learned how to clean up the mess. My oldest can shoot a turkey and bring home meat to feed the family, but he still struggles with getting his multiplication facts down. My youngest can pick up any stringed instrument and figure out how to play it, but ask him to find a pair of socks in his dresser and he collapses into a puddle.
Real life homeschoolers. No kidding.
There are no bumper stickers celebrating kids who twerk their way down a State Park trail. There are no teary eyed award ceremonies for children who make a man diaper out of a t-shirt because they are too lazy to grab clean underwear from their laundry pile. And I have yet to hear of a child being honored for his complete failure to use his we-are-not-at-home-filter in the checkout line at Target.
Or maybe those are things that only my kids do.
(But probably not.)
As parents, why are we afraid of normal? Why do we shy away from good enough? Why can’t our kids effectively complete the job without zooming past expectations? We have to realize that not all kids will graduate when they are 12 or start a stand alone business when they are 14 or patent an invention that changes the face of humanity before they’re old enough to vote…and that’s okay.
Maybe next time you’re at a get together and people start bragging on their kids, you can toss it up a bit. You know those conversations. Mom #1 says her kid speaks ten languages and Mom #2 says her son has received straight As since preschool and Mom #3 says her daughter is going to Africa on her 27th mission trip…and then they look at you to add your child’s amazing accomplishment to the conversation.
Try looking right at them as you politely sip on your cocktail and say “My son makes me laugh” or “my daughter keeps life interesting.”
Because really, that’s an accomplishment, too.
My kids are smart, but they are also kids. Even more, they are human (just like me) and make a whole bunch of embarrassing mistakes (just like me). They have many moments where they really don’t care (just like me) and aren’t interested in impressing whoever is watching and keeping score. (Which, really—we could all learn from.)
And you know what? That’s okay. Because I choose to be a proud parent of that kid.
Check out my super encouraging (and kinda sorta funny) homeschooling book. It will help you get through your day with less chocolate.