Confessions of a Homeschooler

September 13, 2008
By Keri B, Middletown, DE

Everywhere I go, I get the same reaction. People stop me and ask the same nosy questions…

“I’m home schooled.” I said it again to the girl at the park who asked where I went to school. I was expecting the same reaction I usually get when I say that: a blank face that hints confusion, as if she had never heard of it before. Sometimes the strangers scratch their heads and fake a smile. Sometimes they don’t know what to do.
Just like I thought-- this teen girl just stared at me and I could tell she had a million questions in her head. “Oh,” she said and looked at the ground. She looked back up at me and said, “So do you have friends?”
I wanted to be sarcastic and say “No, I have no friends…no friends at all. I just sit and study all day long, hoping that my stuffed animals will come alive and talk to me. That has always been my dream, to carry on a conversation with stuffed animals.”
I actually wanted to say this out loud, to see her expression when she figured I was crazy… but I didn’t. Instead, I replied, “Yes, I have friends.”
“Are they home schooled, too?” This girl obviously was curious about me and my social life.
I tried not to roll my eyes. “Yes, some of them are home schooled.”
“Oh,” she replied, thinking of more questions to ask me. “Do you get, like, to stay up late and wake up whenever you want?”

Typical, I thought. Everybody thinks that being home schooled means doing nothing all day and having a party 24-7. “No, not like that. I get up early, sometimes…except for the weekend. And I go to bed whenever I feel that my home work is done and that --”

She cut me off. “YOU have HOMEWORK?” Her expression showed surprise.

“Yes, I have homework.”

“Man, I guess home school isn’t as fun as I thought.”

I just smiled. Finally, somebody was getting it. Somebody finally understood that home school isn’t all fun and games.

Later that week, I went to Kohl’s with my mom. It was a Wednesday morning, around lunch time. As we were checking out, the same thing happened.
“No school today?” The cashier asked, smiling.
Not AGAIN, I thought. Please, NOT AGAIN!
I just smiled and said politely, “I’m home schooled.”
I received the same look as before. The cashier’s face turned pink and she didn’t know what to say. She stuttered “I, I, I… That’ll be twenty dollars.”
She ignored the subject of home schooling and put the clothes in the bag. She probably didn’t know what to think, but her face said it all. A home school family in Kohl’s! That’s outrageous! Shouldn’t they be going to some teaching store or something? Is that even legal??
At least she didn’t ask, “Do you think you’re normal?” like some people did. Whew, things could be worse, I suppose.

Then there was the baseball game. My brother (who was also homeschooled) played on a regular baseball team. He’s not a nerd, as most people think homeschoolers are, and I am not either. Actually, I know many homeschoolers and none of them are nerds. They’re smart, but they’re certainly not nerds.

I was watching the game from the bleachers when a parent sat next to me to watch his son play, too. “Hi,” he said, trying to be friendly.

“Hi,” I said back, smiling.

“You look familiar. What school do you go to?”

I sighed a very soft sigh. WHY does this ALWAYS happen to me?! I thought.

“I’m homeschooled,” I said.

There it was-- it was the face again! That face that everybody seemed to make when they heard those words. “Oh,” he said. “You don’t look homeschooled.”

So now homeschoolers have a look? This was news to me. What look? I wondered. How can people say we homeschoolers have a look? We’re just like everybody else; we have LIVES. We just are home more than other kids, that’s all. All these thoughts ran through my head.

“Um…thanks,” I said. I was confused. What do you say to “you don’t look homeschooled?” Thankfully, after I replied, the parent smiled, left the bleachers, and I’ve never talked to him again.

I was in the grocery store once, on a weekend, with my family. A blonde lady was behind me in the check out line. To make small talk, she said, “How are you enjoying spring break?”

“I don’t have spring break,” I said, trying to sound important.

“Oh, why not?”

“I’m homeschooled,” I said. Once I said it, I regretted it…but not for long.

“Where’s that?” she asked, completely serious.

I wanted to start hitting my head on the nearby wall, but I resisted that urge. “It’s over the bridge and close to my house,” I said, trying not to get into another conversation about homeschooling.

“Do you take a bus to this Homeschool?” This lady was dumb as a brick, but I tried not to laugh.

“No, I walk there; it’s only a couple of feet away from my room.”

“Wow, that’s very neat.” She smiled and I smiled too, but I smiled because I was trying not to laugh.

My mom was done checking out, so we left. But before we left, the blonde lady said, “Have fun at Homeschool!” She was completely serious.
Way to blurt it out to the whole world, I thought, as we walked out to the car.

Even though I have friends, I sometimes feel out of place. Everybody seems to treat me differently because I am homeschooled. I sometimes feel the need to memorize the dictionary, just in case people ask random questions, thinking I know it all. I don’t, I’ll admit that…but not to a stranger’s face, especially when they already know I’m homeschooled.

Last semester, I joined a homeschool choir that is part of my umbrella school. For those of you who do not know what an umbrella school is, never mind. Just know that we don’t meet in the rain and it’s a cool way to meet other homeschoolers.
In this choir, I don’t feel out of place. The choir teens are amazing and they’re so friendly! I’m not the only one homeschooled there; I’m not the only one who has the trouble of explaining my life 24-7 to completely random strangers in public places. I’m in the midst of my own “species” as some people would like to call it and I love it. Because of this choir, I don’t care if people have bizarre questions like “Is that legal?” or “Who’s your teacher?” All I know is that because of this group of people, I am proud to be homeschooled.

The author's comments:
I was inspired to write this because I was tired of answering all of the homeschool questions that people may have. All of the events actually happened to me, believe it or not, and I hope you enjoy it and learn a little something about the inside world of homeschoolers.

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This article has 4 comments.

Bones96 BRONZE said...
on Jan. 27 2012 at 9:14 pm
Bones96 BRONZE, Charlotte, North Carolina
2 articles 0 photos 108 comments

Favorite Quote:
Life isn't about finding yourself it's about creating yourself-

I totally know what you mean! Your story about the lady that grocery store was pretty funny and I don't think I have ever gotten that before. Good article! :)

on Nov. 27 2009 at 1:41 pm
invisiblesoul BRONZE, Covington, Georgia
4 articles 0 photos 15 comments

Favorite Quote:
Be strong now, because things will get better. It may rain now, but it can't rain forever.

Haha, well, that was right-on. It's amazing how "normal" so many home schoolers are, and yet people still have such misconceptions about us! The cashier thing (with Kohls) was also amazingly similar to many, many experiences I've had! lol.

on May. 20 2009 at 8:22 pm
ReflectionsofYou GOLD, Mason, Tennessee
10 articles 0 photos 107 comments
HAHA! That's so true! I know what you mean, I hate those questions. And it's even harder to explain sometimes because my cover school says we're not supposed to call ourselves "Homeschoolers" ! Nice job:]

Jess B. said...
on Jan. 23 2009 at 11:39 pm
Wow. I am a fellow homeschooler, and I have to say, this is so accurate! I laughed, out loud, throughout your piece. Very well written! And of course, I appreciate the topic.

-Jess B.

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