Friday, December 2, 2016

Excuse me, I think your homeschool is showing

It may come as no surprise to you that I was homeschooled. I hope it does though. It's a running joke among some of our couple friends that I'm what I like to call a recovering homeschooler. I'm always pleased to learn that I am now attuned enough with the "ways of the world" (read: my fashion sense) that it is no longer glaringly obvious at first glance that I spent the majority of my early years oblivious to the trends, music, movies and styles around me. I know new moms are granted permission to be clueless about the happenings in the world for the first 5-10 years following childbirth since they are basically walking sleep-deprived zombies for an entire decade. Homeschoolers should be granted the same permission. Except they should get to claim cluelessness for decades plural. Or at least I should. Fellow former homeschoolers, you know what I'm saying. It's nice to be at a party and not be called out on the fact that "your homeschool is showing." Mine still dangles out quite a bit more than I'd care to admit like for instance when I finally realized IN COLLEGE at the ripe age of of twenty that the word "facade" is actually pronounced "FUH-SAWED" and not the "FUH-CAID" I'd been saying for my entire life! Or like when everyone around the table starts talking about some no-name comedian called Jimmy Fallon and you're sitting there wondering who on earth he is and why earth you should care. (Kidding!! I do actually know who he is AND what he looks like...but this is the first time that has ever happened to me).

Don't get me wrong. I have absolutely nothing against homeschooling. In fact, all you homeschooling parents out there, I bow down to you!! You are stronger and more patient folk than I by a LONG shot. It's a schooling approach that I strongly considered for a good 2.6 seconds before determining that, in our case, it would be a fatal one. For either my kids or myself actually. It takes a really special person who is able to be around their kids all the days and all the time. Unfortunately that is not a cloth I have been cut from. Regardless of your own personal thoughts on the matter, I think we can all safely agree that homeschooling in the 1980s and 1990s looked a lot different than it does today.

Let's just say that maybe us homeschoolers weren't as integrated back then. Homeschooling in an organized sense was in it's infancy when my parents made the decision that it was the right choice for our family. We spent some time on a weekly basis with fellow homeschooling families but we didn't interact much if at all with the kids in the public school system, that is until we dipped our toes in organized sports setting in the later elementary years. This meant it was essentially the blind kids leading the blind when it came to keeping up with any sort of trend in our sense of fashion or music choices.

My sister and I were the oldest girls in our primary community of 4 homeschooling families so I guess you could say we WERE the trend (a scary thought!) I rocked out to Steven Curtis Chapman in my stirrup pants and oversized Union Bay "one size fits all" striped t-shirts during all the years they were no longer cool and I sported overalls all the way to college, a fact that my husband bemoans to this day. When I first phoned my to-be college roomate over the summer to introduce myself, the two things I chose to share with her was that I was formerly homeschooled and that I liked cats. Ha! She knew right from the start that she was in for a real treat. I'm still a little slow to catch on to all things hip-cool.

Anyway, my 9-year homeschooling career (well maybe 10 or 11, if you count my sister's Kindergarten and first grade years when I INSISTED on sitting down and "doing school" too) was amazing in so many ways. School only took us a couple of hours to complete so we had a lot of time and freedom in our days to create and play. And because we were homeschooled, we weren't locked into the traditional school year calendar which provided us ample opportunity and flexibility for vacationing and traveling and taking "educational field trips."

My siblings and I were all homeschooled through our 8th grade year. I don't know whether my parents had a set duration in mind when they started out for how long they would homeschool, but at some point during the middle school years, my older sister decided to rock the boat and tell them she thought it was in her best interest that she attend public high school. My parents weren't thrilled with the idea at first but she made a pretty good argument: the Bible calls us to be a witnesses and her "mission field" was slim pickings if she was kept at home any longer with just the 6 of us. I mean. Way to lay it on thick, Lani! So off she went to public high school, laying the groundwork for the three of us who remained to do the same.

But like I said, the fact that I was homeschooled caused me to "miss the memo" on a number of, ahem, important things. I remember my freshman year of high school, the year I officially entered the "real" world. Because of my years spent surrounded primarily by fellow homeschoolers, a lot of "societal norms" were totally lost on me. I knew next to nobody at my school other than my sister and a couple of girls I recognized from when I played basketball back in 3rd grade. I walked in nervously on my first day of school, sporting my high waist, tapered jeans, short-sleeve ribbed sweater shirt (gag me!) and my black high top Nikes. But what really pulled my outfit together was the band of tightly curled bangs that rested halfway up my forehead. I cringe. Deeply. I wish someone would have pulled me aside and offered me a little introductory course in fashion just a wee bit earlier. But alas (and maybe thankfully!!?) I didn't notice until much, much later that I stood out like a sore thumb. I was focused on more basic concerns like whether I would be assigned first lunch or second and whether I would eat alone.

Though there were many aspects of public school that terrified me, there were also a number of things that excited me immensely. I remember walking in to my Global Science class on that first day of high school and realizing that not one, but TWO of the boys I had crushes on were in it with me. GLORY!!! High school was going to be awesome!! I may have been homeschooled, but trust me, I wasn't dense. I'd had my eye on the neighbor boy for quite some time and he'd had enough of his friends over to play basketball through the years that I had pretty good tabs on the most popular jocks in the public school system before I entered it. It wasn't like I was stalking them or anything though. No, definitely not.

I was quiet and kept mostly to myself for the first part of the school year but it didn't take long for my classmates to realize I had some brains to me. Homeschooling had it's advantages! I remember the first time I wrote a paper in high school. It wasn't in English but was in that Global Science class of all places. It was a small assignment, a group paper (if ever there was such a thing!), double-spaced and two pages total in length. I was honored, no, THRILLED when the two cute boys, the basketball-playing jocks, asked to partner with me. I accepted the invitation enthusiastically (and I'm sure awkwardly), enjoying the attention, and totally oblivious to the fact that maybe their asking was simply because doing so guaranteed them an easy A. Touche.

We had a single computer at home - one of those massive square desktop screens that weighed at least 500 pounds. Y'all have to remember that computers were a newer thing way back when in the days when I was young enough to be in high school. Not only was I busy learning the ways of the public school system and social cues, but I was also trying to figure out all this new-fangled technology. I remember collaborating together with these boys in class, scrawling down ideas on a piece of scratch paper, cheeks flushed with excitement to be talking with them. Who cared that we were talking about science? We were talking!! Eventually we (ahem, I mean I) came up with enough data and information to put together a final outline for our paper. I willingly volunteered to take home the notes home over the weekend and type them up and format them.

I showed up to science class the following Monday morning, two-page paper in hand, hot off the printer. I confidently splaying out "our" work for the cute boys to see. Our names were listed in the top right corner (gosh it looked nice to have their names next to mine!) and I proudly showed them how "our" thoughts had come together into two full pages. Double-spaced and everything! The boys looked at me blankly but remained silent.

I don't recall who broke the news to me. Out of self-preservation, I'm sure my conscience has blocked it out of my memory. It could have been our teacher, that lanky, red-haired man who was wildly excited about the earth. Or maybe it was one of the cute boys. Like I said, I really don't remember. But someone eventually told me what it actually meant to "double space" a paper - you know, that special function in Word that puts an extra horizontal gap of blank space between each line of text? I  was  mortified  to  learn  that  "double  spacing"  did  not  in  fact  mean  literally  hitting  the  space  bar  twice  between  each  and  every  word  as  I  had  so  expertly  carried  out  on  our  paper.

Ummm.....Excuse me, I think your homeschool is showing.

(Insert moment of silence for ALL THE EMBARRASSMENT here).

I wish I could say this was my only homeschooling blunder but unfortunately it was simply the first in a long line of many. I could go on for days. It's a miracle I'm still alive really. There are many others that I will never be able to live down but this is the one that will stick with me forever. At least I can say with full confidence that I will never, ever forget what it means to double space again!

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posted by kelsie