Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Home Education Week - Day 3

And we have likely all felt the fool in one way or another. Share your greatest challenge. Or one of those terrible, horrible no good, very bad days where the only thing there is to do seems to involve moving to Australia.

I’m going way back in time for this epic story, but it does involve homeschooling, so be patient and read all the way through.

Back in the ancient history known as BC (Before Children), I was an upwardly mobile office professional, with my own little space in the cubicle maze where I answered Important Emails using acronyms like ASAP, FYI, SME, ETC. It was my 4th job in 3 years after graduating from college (remember, I was “upwardly mobile”) and I had been assigned to help with the updates and edits of an 18 book user documentation set.

In order to complete said assignment, I had to learn a new documentation software, all the company standards of writing and formatting, all the formal techniques of technical writing, and mainframe system administration. Yep, piece of cake.

The day when all the books had to be sent to the printers was fast approaching. It was also the day that my cousin was graduating from high school in a town a few hours away where I was supposed to attend a pre-graduation party and the actual ceremony. I was very interested in going as I had taught some of his classmates during my unfinished year of student teaching. It would be neat to see them go from their punk freshman attitudes to the oh-so-mature status of graduating seniors.

Before the big day arrived, I had made plans to meet my parents and ride out to Sulphur Springs, TX, with them. I would finish up work early and we could be out there in plenty of time for the party and Aunt Shirley’s baked beans. The only problem was that I had never done a Publication Day before and I had no idea the hurricane that was headed my way.

The morning of Publication Day, I blithely went through the files for all my books, tweaked a few things, printed them off, and handed them over to my editor for final approval one by one. Almost before I got back to my desk, the editor returned them with sticky flags *everywhere*. Change this, move that, reprint it and I’ll check it again. What?!? I had been working on this for months, how come all this was coming up now? So I made the changes, reprinted it, dropped it off, and got it back with more flags. It was a nasty, vicious cycle that I was sure would end the *next* time I handed it over.

The hour came and went for me to leave to meet my parents. I called them and explained I would be a little bit late. Then I called them again, “Soon” I promised. I was getting frustrated, the editor was getting frustrated, my boss was getting frustrated and it was *not* a pleasant experience for any of us. Finally, the books met everyone’s grudging approval and got their final sign off. I sent the files to the printer and raced out the door - very, very late. I raced to meet my parents and we ended up completely missing the party and just barely squeaking in for the graduation ceremony. I felt horrible that I had made everyone so late.

As we sat and watched the ceremony, I saw that the valedictorian was a student I had worked with when he was a freshman. That year had marked the first time he had been in school as he had always been homeschooled before. In fact, watching him try to adjust to public school life was one thing that influenced me against homeschooling. This kid dressed different, acted different, talked different, even *walked* different. He just couldn’t find a place to fit in and he seemed to be having a miserable time of it. But in the 3 1/2 years since I had last seen him, he had gotten the hang of this high school thing and had excelled. Maybe he wasn’t Mr. Popular, but he had obviously found a way to make the system work for him.

In the end, we had missed the party and the baked beans and I felt like a schmuck for not just telling my parents to go on without me. However, I did come away with a greater appreciation for homeschooling. It had obviously benefited that kid by giving him a strong academic foundation, even if I did feel that his parents should have given him more opportunities to interact with other kids *before* tossing him into the deep end of public high school.

That whole experience still influences me in my own homeschooling journey and it’s probably a big reason I get my girls involved in extra activities. Awhile back, we met up with some other homeschoolers for a trip to an orchard and I noticed a bumper sticker on another mom’s van. It read, “Warning! Unsocialized homeschoolers on board!” I had to laugh because the last thing our kids are is “unsocialized”. Sure, they don’t spend hours every weekday in a group of 20 other kids of exactly their same age, experience, and academic level all cooped up in one small school room. Because we all know that’s exactly what real society looks like, anyway. On the other hand, that small, unchanging classroom probably does do a great job of getting them ready for the 6'x4' confines of a their corner of the cubicle maze.

For more stories, go read Principled Discovery and follow Mr. Linky.


Hanley Family said...

Wow...I enjoyed your story. It is amazing how much kids can grow and change.

And I was weird and didn't really fit in anywhere in school, either. But I wasn't homeschooled. I wasn't Valedictorian, either, though. :)

Julie said...

Like Dana, I was weird and didn't really fit in high school either. In fact, my own mother has accused me of being a nice weird ~ and I was never home schooled.

I try to get my daughter involved in as many things as she can too. But, all she really wants to do is sing. So, she is in recitals, sings with the Youth Worship team, goes to her friends house to sing ~

In The Potter's Hand said...

Thanks for sharing your story.

Marbel said...

Enjoyed your story, including the flashback to my own cubicle days.

I thank God that I am no longer the geeky shy outcast I was in high school!

Celly B said...

Great post! It is so neat being able to read everyone's experiences with homeschooling. That bumper sticker is too funny!

Unknown said...

I enjoyed reading your story. Thanks for sharing!

Andrea said...

I really enjoyed your post; it was so interesting! Thanks for sharing your story.


Alicia said...

Great story. I think it is so funny that people think we are not aware of the need for children to "fit in," or that going to public school is going to be the way to teach them that. (I am another awkward, geeky girl..who went to public school and never fit in there).