I feel very fortunate to be master of my time; I currently don’t have a 9 to 5 job (and I’m not sure I want one), and I get to pick and choose the homeschool activities in which we participate.
One of the things that I have chosen to do with my free time is volunteer at my city’s local food bank, where we provide groceries for families that for some reason don’t currently have the finances to afford them.
I have been working at the food bank for two years now, once a week. Yet, this past week was a first: my assignment for the day was to go grocery shopping with a man who wanted to give a food donation, but because of back problems he needed someone to come along and help him. So I was the muscle in this equation, ha!
He was an older man, maybe late sixties if not seventies. As imagined, small talk ensued. We talked about where I’m from and what brought me here (Facebook, obviously). He told me about his family and the places he’s traveled.
And then, the inevitable.
‘Your daughter, which school does she go to?’ the man asked. I smiled and said we homeschool. He scoffed. ‘Pffft. And you think that’s good?’
So many things went through my head, to the point I called this entry The fight because in a fraction of a second this man I and I had battled ferociously, barked aggressively at each other and fought to the death… except we didn’t really. The snark in me wanted a worthy comeback, maybe a sarcastic ‘Nah, I just really want to ruin her’, or a confrontational ‘What, you think I’d on purpose do something I think is bad for her?’ But then I caught myself.
I can’t expect everyone to understand my choices and why I do the things I do. I find that people in general tend to talk depending on their own perceptions or preconceived notions. I have no clue what this man’s idea is about homeschooling, but I sure know it’s different than mine.
I remembered that in acting defensive the only thing we achieve is demonstrate we are feeling attacked. This man wasn’t attacking me, or my ideas, or my parenting. He was simply asking a reasonable question, much in his own style. There’s no harm in that.
‘Actually I quite enjoy it’, I responded. ‘We don’t have problems such as peer pressure, and I feel like I know her better than ever before’. The man nodded in agreement, ‘That makes sense’.
He then shared with me all reasons why he thinks the public school system is failing; as it turns out, our points of view on the educational system weren’t all that different. It was nice to find common ground.
We gathered and paid for all the items on our grocery list and loaded the things into the car. Just before he dropped me off he began telling me about one of his sons, who has quite age gap from the other two siblings. ‘He’s my youngest, and I have to say he’s been the challenging one. Currently he’s going to university’.
The mischievousness in me wanted to scoff Pfft, and you think that’s good? but I didn’t; I just smiled at my thoughts.
In the end, as parents, we each do what we think is best.