Last week I took the kids to the city rec center for the weekly homeschoolers’ games day. Two hours of playing ball, tumbling on gym mats, and (occasionally) playing ball while tumbling on gym mats. Afterward, we stopped for a snack at a frozen yogurt shop. Unexpected treats bring out the best in my children, I’ve noticed, and this day was no exception. Their table manners were impeccable—I think Beanie only fell out of her chair once. And what helpful and considerate children! “Don’t worry about those sprinkles on the table, Mommy—I’ll clean them up.” (Lick lick lick.) “Are you full, Mommy? I can finish it for you if you want.”
As we were finishing our sundaes, a couple of elderly women who had been sitting nearby stopped to chat for a moment.
“Are they homeschooled?” one of the ladies asked me. I nodded. “I thought so,” she said, smiling. She didn’t elaborate, and I chose, naturally, to interpret it as a complimentary acknowledgment of their pleasing behavior. I’m sure the fact that my ten-year-old was sitting in a yogurt shop at two in the afternoon on a school day had nothing at all to do with the nice woman’s observation.
This brief encounter reminded me of another time my heart swelled with pride over a stranger’s recognition of my children as homeschoolers. This was two or three years ago. I took the girls to a nearby living history museum where costumed interpreters cook and weave and do some light blacksmithing in 1700s period cottages. In one cottage, Jane had quite a long chat with the interpreter, asking questions, answering questions, discussing the merits of peat fires vs. wood fires, real cats vs. stuffed cats, and so on.
As Jane skipped out the door to the barnyard, the interpreter turned to me and said, “You must be homeschoolers!”
“Why, yes!” I answered, delighted that Jane’s brilliant conversation had revealed the wonders of a home education.
“I thought so,” said the interpreter, watching my three small girls, who had come prepared for this outing in costumes of their own, chasing peacocks in the yard. “I could tell from the bonnets.”