(...another post that I wrote about 8 months ago, but didn't quite finish...)
We went to an op shop and when we walked in, the lady behind the counter said "isn't there any school today?". AJ said "we homeschool". "Oh" is all that the lady said.
We looked around and gathered up some general bits and pieces. It was an older shop, with manual bookkeeping and the lady serving us wrote the amounts on a piece of paper. She turned the piece of paper around to AJ and said to him "here! You do this!". AJ had been standing next to me, but paying absolutely no attention to what had been going on as he was looking at something else. He said gently "what?". The lady demanded "you do this!". AJ again "what?". I said to him "she wants you to do this sum for her". The lady quickly said "well! He said he homeschooled...I thought I'd have some fun with him!". I said "he doesn't have to do that". She said "I guess he's not up to that then." (Inferring that he didn't know how to do the sum.) If I hadn't already paid, I would have walked out right then. I was a little in shock to be treated like that. And who thinks that forcing children to do math is FUN???!!! Of course AJ could have done that if he had wanted to. Who was SHE to test my child?!
Summer took something over to our neighbour at home. When she didn't return soon after, I went looking for her. I saw Summer and our neighbour outside talking to some other people. I went over, chatted briefly and then left with Summer. She told me that our neighbour had been asking Summer about school..."how's your schooling going?"..."how's your long division?" WHAT???!!! Excuse me...I was tempted to go back and ask her how HER long division is?!!
What is it about homeschooling that makes some people suddenly become the judge and jury for our children? Why do they think they have the right to test our children? Why is the ability to do math a benchmark for the kind of people my children are? Ask them what are they excited about? Ask them are they happy? Better off, don't ask them....just observe them...see how they can talk to anyone without peer restrictions....see how they stop in the middle of a crowded shopping center to rescue a dragonfly that has somehow been trapped inside...see how they jump in and help with a wide range of household tasks....see how they can work together and help each other...see how they know how to ask for things that they want and help in finding creative solutions to achieving those things...see the joy in them when they "get" a new concept because it actually makes sense to them, not because they were forced to learn it.
....I was a bit fired up when I wrote that! Several months later, I think I'm a little more forgiving towards others now who get a bit nosy. Perhaps it's their ignorance, or maybe they are just interested in how homeschooling actually works and assume it's just like school, but at home (it is like that for some families, but not us), and they are curious about how that works because maybe they would have loved that for themselves. I still will not tolerate my children being disrespected, but I am curious about why people behave the way that they do. We don't face these kinds of situations very often, but we're getting better about turning it around when we do. If a shop assistant asks one of my children to do a sum again, we'll say...very gently...."do you need help with it?". Or instead of answering a question outright, like the long-division situation, we'll just turn it right around and say something like (gently) "why do you want to know?....Do you need help with your long division?", or just say something random like "oh that is so much fun to do!". I want my kids to be respectful and to maintain their joy. I am amazed by how naturally they do both when treated with respect and allowed the freedom to express their joy!