Last month we made a big decision. We withdrew Camille from the local public school and officially entered the world of homeschooling. It's been an interesting transition with several twists I hadn't expected and most of them center around the process of sharing this news with others. We had been so caught up in discussing and researching our decision that I never really gave any thought to how to share our news with others. In fact, the first few times I found myself entering into conversations about our decision, I stumbled about looking for the right words and wondered if this was how it felt to "come out". I found myself inhaling deeply while trying to quell the desire to just rush through the revelation and leap ahead to their initial response. I quickly realized that I needed to come up with a "spiel", not unlike the ones I have crafted over the years regarding Camille's adoption or our nomadic life as a military family or the story I tell about how a Catholic Cajun girl ended up raising two Jewish kids. I needed to have a handy little snippet to share with folks and the more I recited it, the easier the telling would become and the less I would worry about others' reactions. And so I did that.
But then I jumped into the pool with the homeschoolers and that's when the cold water shot up my nose and the sputtering started all over again. Suddenly, I was telling my story and realizing it was being prodded from a different angle. Like a new puppy at the dog park pool, I had been so eager to meet others who were homeschooling that I naively thought I would automatically be a member of the pack. If I had been paying closer attention to Hugo's recent dog encounters, I would have been able to anticipate that I would have to be carefully sniffed and inspected before any frolicking/connecting could begin. It doesn't matter how unconventional or rebellious one's decision may seem within the mainstream context, there still remains a deep-seated and very human need to place others into recognizable boxes. I soon realized that I would need to not only be able to identify the type of homeschoolers we would be (secular, ecclectic), but also defend our decision to homeschool and explain why we hadn't always been homeschoolers. So once again, I found myself crafting a story that would be told and re-told until it began to feel a bit easier to recite while doing a bit of my own sniffing to see if this might be a good fit for future homeschool connections.
This recent homeschooling plunge has been a funny little trip into the weird world of human dynamics and an educational reminder that regardless of one's experiences or opinions on school/homeschool, there is a hard-wired and very human desire to examine others' decisions in the context of your own. And in the midst of all this there is my naked insecurity sprawled like a panting dog desperately wanting to sound smooth and coherent, while sputtering and slipping in the piles of anxious drool. Would this all work? Were we doing the right thing? Would we regret this?
None of these probing examinations or my attempts to respond really matter because the reality is that Camille is suddenly smiling again, happily diving into books, writing up a storm, asking strong thoughtful questions, and having fun. This is clearly the right decision for her at this moment in time and I am taking my cues from her (and Hugo) by shaking off the muddy questions and anxious slobber to dive in beside her.