In the years that we've homeschooled I've become accustomed to strangers asking questions when they meet Danny. I try to be a good ambassador for learning at home, but sometimes the best response is none. I'm not homeschooling as part of an anti-education agenda. I don't have any feelings about public school teachers except perhaps that they aren't paid nearly what they deserve for the work they do. I am teaching one child-I cannot imagine teaching thirty (or more). Still, when you do something outside the norm, it is understandable that it will be viewed as a judgment on someone else's decisions. I don't think most people should homeschool. Some days, I'm not certain I should, but here we are.
I don't demand strangers defend their educational decisions in the produce department of Hy-Vee at ten in the morning. I don't approach people without children, ask if they have children in school, then verbally abuse them. I don't. I can't honestly imagine a situation where I feel that would ever be warranted, yet if I step outside in a public space with my son on a weekday we become a target for rudeness. I don't put up with bullies, whether on playgrounds or in the produce department of Hy-Vee.
If I feel someone is asking questions out of genuine interest, and they are polite about it I am happy to discuss our experiences with homeschooling. We're secular homeschoolers, which tends to throw people as the image of homeschooling in America is largely faith based. I get many, many questions with respect to whether we teach science. We do. Oh, we do.
Somewhere between the potatoes and onions, a man barreled up to me, got very close into my personal space, and snarled, "Why isn't he in school?"
I did a quick mental assessment-he's obviously not a cop, or a truant officer, or a child welfare worker. Don't ask how I could be certain, but something signaled that I didn't need to engage this person in conversation. I didn't feel I owed him an explanation of any sort, so none was forthcoming. He followed after me a short way loudly demanding I answer. I kept walking. That was that, and he wandered off somewhere else in the store. I'm sure if I had replied that Danny is homeschooled, I would still be there, trapped into defending myself, so I didn't.
I'm not comfortable meeting rudeness with rudeness. I'm not pleased with myself for ignoring another human being as though he did not exist. I would do it again. I will never be comfortable, or happy with it, but I will do it again. If you approach me with demands, you had better be showing a badge (and possibly a warrant depending on the circumstances). I do have a certificate issued by the state that establishes us as a school. I've never felt the need to carry a copy on my person, but that is something I should perhaps consider.
Thankfully, most people I encounter haven't reached this level of rudeness. Believe it or not, there are some really lovely people out there which is all the more reason to stop wasting time and effort on the likes of that jerk.