The blank stares, the wary glances, the head shakes - I’ve experienced them all. You’d think I were an extraterrestrial by all the raised eyebrows I get. It was so long ago, you’d think it wouldn’t make a difference anymore. I’ve tried to fit in, to cover it up, but somehow it always shows through: I once was a homeschooler.
Being homeschooled never seemed weird to me when I was younger, probably because I never knew anything else. For me, spending hours in our woods digging up worms to feed to the domesticated frogs that lived in my mother’s pond was normal. No one ever told me that third graders didn’t listen to the soundtrack of “Fiddler on the Roof” while doing 500-piece puzzles. My parents didn’t see anything wrong with it, so neither did I.
Sixth grade came and my parents decided to put me in a “real” school. I fought it, even more so when I found out that we would also be moving from our three acres to a house in the suburbs.
During my first year, I adjusted to being around kids all day instead of my parents. I learned what was cool and what was not. (Talking about how much you hate your little brother = cool! Talking about how much you love your pet rats = not cool.) But every time I run for class president, the ultimate test of popularity, I lose. Maybe it’s because I can’t shake people’s perception that I’m strange. I mean, I’m the girl who’s been writing a novel for three summers now. I’m the girl who blurts out incredulously, “You don’t know who Katherine Hepburn is?” when we play Apples to Apples at a party. I’m the girl whose parents break out in Gilbert and Sullivan songs at the dinner table - and I join in!
I guess the damage has already been done. I have spent too much time talking with adults, laughing at classic movies with my mom, and watching PBS. It’s too late to turn back now. Most kids would feel embarrassed to admit this, but for some reason, I don’t. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have to go whip my mom’s butt in croquet.
This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.