Archive for October, 2012

Dear Self-Righteous Civilians: Do Please Kindly Shut Up

Wednesday, October 17th, 2012

[Editor's note: Okay, it's just me. The Bitter One. I don't have an editor. Rather, I am the editor, which isn't always good news. But at least I always know where to find her. Usually, in the kitchen sobbing over an empty brownie pan. But I digress.

I'm not sure if I should have closed that bracket and then opened up a new one for this paragraph. I guess not, but it looks kind of weird like this. Just go ahead and assume this is all part of one big, long, bracketed message. Thank you.

No, this is looking too weird. Oh. Duh. I should put this whole thing in italics. Brb.

Much better.

Where was I?

Right. Okay. I'm used to people not liking what I write. I'm even used to having mixed feelings about some of my own writing. But I'm not used to feeling distinctly uneasy after posting something, and then having someone whose opinion I care about confirm my own belief that I did indeed mess up.

Specifically, I didn't make it clear enough that I was talking about (and to) people who hold misguided ideas about homeschoolers and homeschooling. Not all civilians do. Maybe not even most. The whole point of this posting is that we shouldn't  judge a group by a single characteristic. Insert irony music here.

Separate issue, and one that this person did not bring up but that's been bothering me -- some seriously harsh language, or as one reader put it, "Holy sentence enhancers!"

First things first.

When I got the message from this friend, my first impulse was to insist to myself that this person just must not have "gotten it." Because, you know, how could I possibly be wrong about anything ever?

Then I reread the posting, and oh, yeah. I blew it.

I was embarrassed and troubled enough by this to want to just take the posting down. But that would mean losing the comments people had posted -- some of which were very good, and at least one of which was better than my own posting -- or at least losing the context, if I just deleted my writing and put up a "Space For Rent" sign. Or if I completely rewrote the piece. Which I'm actually going to go ahead and do in another posting. I want to tackle this subject again from a different angle, because I just don't feel done with it. But I think that this particular perspective has its own value, with a little judicious editing.

I also could have just gone ahead and done a silent rewrite, but I really wanted to point out what I was doing and why. Not as a big fat ego trip, but because the whole point of blogging is the conversation with readers. And this is part of that conversation.

As for the language issue -- people really liked my use of "bollocks," which is a great word because it's almost swearing but not quite, plus it's hilariously British and they do everything better than us, at least language-wise. "Ass-clown" also went over well. I'm keeping that, because it is swearing but it's pretty mild as swearing goes and I stole it from Iron Man 2. Yes, I worship at the altar of Robert Downey, Junior. You needed to know that. [Editor's other note: Not really.]

The other “bad words”: I didn’t get any complaints about them, at least not in the comments here or in my personal email. And there weren’t a lot of said words. But I find it distasteful even when I blurt that kind of stuff out at idiots in traffic. (The window’s shut. I’m not that bad. Mostly.) So I don’t really feel like leaving that kind of Shinola in print. It’s not even a case of “I wouldn’t want my child talking like that, so I’m not going to.” If anything, it’s the other way around. My son hates it when I swear. He didn’t say anything when he read this, other than liking my comment about owing the cuss jar four thousand dollars, but he really wishes I’d cut it out. And he’s important to me. He’s going to have to live with “ass-clown,” but I’m cleaning up the rest of it. And if “bollocks” turns out to be actual profanity in England, well, nobody told me.

I think that’s it. I guess I can close that bracket now.

]

I was feeling kind of bad about some of the comments I’ve received on recent postings. About how if only I were nicer and calmer and more reasonable, I could give the homeschooling movement some much-needed positive PR.

And then I woke up.

The people who tell me that I should be a nice girl are people who are picking on my tone because they don’t want to deal with the content of my message. They’re mostly civilians, though there are some homeschoolers who have publicly taken me to task on their own blogs for being so darned bitter all the time. (Yeah. It’s not a persona or a writing style or anything. I’m like this every minute of the day. At breakfast and everything. “Pass me those homemade cinnamon-sugar doughnuts, dang nab it! I’m bitter and I’m going to say so!” Yes, we had homemade doughnuts for breakfast this morning. And now I bet you’re bitter.)

The people who criticize me in the comment section and refuse to answer the actual issues I bring up think they can score good citizen points for telling the out-of-control screamer to take it easy and play nice. Like all the other homeschoolers. We’re actually a pretty nice group. That’s why I stick out so sharply. I’m a shock.

Dear People Who Want Me To Tone It Down A Notch: Have you read the name of this blog? Does it say, “The Fair And Balanced Homeschooler Who Cares About How You Feel”? It does not. There’s a reason for that.

I’m not here to be good PR, for homeschoolers or anyone else. The homeschooling movement has plenty of terrific ambassadors in that respect.

Please note: You’re not reading them.

You’re not. You never do. Check your search engine history. How much time, Critical Comment Writer, do you spend on any of the rational, well written, earnest homeschooling blogs out there?

They’re out there. You don’t care.

“The Bitter Homeschooler’s Wish List” blazed across the Internet. It still gets posted, reposted, and talked about.

You wouldn’t have noticed if I’d written it in a sweet, low, adorable little voice.

Sorry. You like snark. You’re shallow. Join the club.

The critical comments come from non-homeschoolers who don’t approve of homeschooling and don’t like it when I call them out on how and why they’re wrong. As for my other readers: homeschoolers wouldn’t be reading my work if I were just too cute for words.

Remember how I said I’m not here to be good PR? I’m not. I’m here to vent, and to allow other homeschoolers to bask in the knowledge that they’re not alone in being annoyed by the specific stupidity homeschoolers have to deal with.

Speaking of which: The actual point of this posting!

In spite of all the really good blogs I just mentioned, some civilians are still being the same ass-clowns you’ve been for the past two decades. It’s not just that you’re still stupid. You’re still exactly the same flavor of stupid. And that’s boring and enraging in about equal parts.

For instance: A friend of mine was just told by her neighbor that the reason her kids fight so much is that they’re homeschooled.

I had three sisters. We all went to public school. Fighting was our main extracurricular activity. We spent way more time being evil to one another than we ever did on homework. And we were much nastier than my friend’s daughters ever are.

Doesn’t matter. When school kids do something, they’re just being kids. When homeschoolers do something — ANYTHING — they’re Representing Homeschooling.

What’s weird is that the stereotype I hear the most is that homeschoolers are creepily well-behaved because they’re little cult kids. But whatever. My friend’s kids bicker, so it must be because they homeschool.

Another fer instance: I know a homeschooled girl who’s perfectly outgoing among people she knows, and who regularly dances and sings for audiences. However, if you put her in a social setting with more than, say, four entirely new people, she contracts Locked-In Syndrome and can only communicate her terror via eye-blinking in Morse code.

She was taken to a fancy-schmancy charity league tea by a friend and, predictably, froze up. Heck, I freeze up just hearing about that kind of thing. I’d only go if it were one of the demands on a ransom letter from my son’s kidnapper. (If my husband’s kidnapper asks this, he’s on his own. I’ve already warned him.) Even then, I’d probably pack a cyanide pill. They said I had to go. They didn’t say I had to live through it.

This little girl became known immediately as The Homeschooled Kid. All the parents and a lot of the kids attending the event started whispering in pitying tones about how, you know, that’s what happens to kids when you homeschool them.

Oh, PUH-leeze. I went to public school with several paralyzingly shy kids. You know the type. It’s painful to be in the same room with them, because they go into visible agony if anyone does anything pushy or overbearing like look directly at them for four-fifths of a second. God forbid you try to start a conversation with one of them. You’ll both need a suicide hotline in under five minutes.

Shy kids who go to public school are shy kids. Shy homeschooled kids are Homeschooled Kids So Of Course They’re Shy.

I’m not in a forgiving mood here. If you’ve ever been guilty of this kind of behavior, you need to listen to me right now, and listen good.

If you’ve ever attended or even just seen a school, you know very well that it’s populated by kids who are shy, nerdy, restless, moody, goofy, obstreperous, whiny, teasing, and just plain weird. You KNOW this.

So where do you get off accusing us of screwing up our kids by homeschooling them every time they have the nerve to act like NORMAL HUMAN BEINGS?

If you do this: stop it. Right now. I’m NOT asking nicely. I’m telling you that you’re being a willful idiot, and I’m calling you on it.

And don’t pull that whole “If you’d just asked nicely, we coulda talked about this” routine. Bollocks. Every homeschooler I know shows admirable restraint when they’re the ones on the receiving end of this nonsense. They’re polite. They’re patient (even if they’re gritting their teeth). They try to explain.

And it ain’t working. A lot of people — and you know who you are — are still being idiots on a regular basis.

So hear it from me: I’m onto you. I’m not going to be cute and I’m not going to be nice. And that’s why what I say is going to stick in your head, no matter how much you wish it would leave.

Deal with it. And behave. Homeschoolers have enough to deal with without getting this kind of grief.