Yes, I’m about to trash my own group. You’re allowed to trash your group, just like you’re allowed to criticize your family but axe-murder anyone else who breathes a word against them. Civilians who take this blog post to mean that it’s open season on homeschoolers should be prepared to learn otherwise, by which I mean they should enter their local witness protection program and dedicate the remainder of their lives to charity. Just because I’m ticked off at homeschoolers doesn’t mean I feel like taking any guff from the people who honestly think they’re normal. Like that’s a good thing.
Anyway: I had a recent, bitter reminder of why I’ve slacked way off on organizing activities for our local homeschooling support group. The next time I decide to host a gathering that actually costs time, money, and energy that could be better spent ANYwhere else — an event that required, in this case, the purchase of perishable, non-returnable food items and the moving of furniture in the anticipation of a crowd that didn’t show up — I’m going to do something more sensible instead. I’m thinking crystal meth, or maybe naked public belly dancing. Heck, that sounds like two great tastes that taste great together compared to hearing AN HOUR BEFORE THE PARTY STARTED that five of the expected eight guests would not in fact be attending.
I’d say I’m not bitter, but I think you’d know I was lying.
I’ve talked to a lot of people about the fact that homeschoolers as a group seem congenitally incapable of following through on commitments when it comes to field trips and other organized get-togethers, and honoring the terms of those trips when they do. Most of the people I talked to are the ones who try to organize said field trips.
Some say that homeschoolers are homeschoolers exactly because we’re so independent-minded. We’re used to doing what we want to when we want to, and find the idea of agreeing to be at a certain place at a certain time and then actually being there alien. And following someone else’s rules? Fuhgeddaboudit.
One charitable soul pointed out that when school kids go on a field trip, they’re gathered at one place by one school bus, and unless that bus breaks down, they’ll all get to the right place at the same time. In this setting, younger siblings have their own class and their own trips to go on, so there’s no worry that they’ll be brought to places they’re too young and/or bored to cope constructively with. Which is true, but doesn’t exactly excuse acting like a total douche. Especially since you’re setting an example of douchiness to your impressionable child, and you’re his or her primary teacher.
And several people who make The Bitter Homeschooler sound like June Cleaver on Xanax said that the reason homeschoolers are complete and total inconsiderate scum when it comes to responding in a timely manner to announcements of events, coughing up the dough, honoring our commitments, showing up on time, and realizing we’re responsible for the behavior of our children isn’t because we’re homeschoolers; it’s because human beings ought to do the whole damned universe a favor and seek early extinction. I used to think I could medal in the Bitter Olympics. Now I’m not even sure I’d be allowed to compete.
For those still young and strong and idealistic enough to want to host a gathering or organize a trip for your fellow homeschoolers, here’s a handy guide to some common terms. Homeschoolese sounds a lot like English, so it’s easy to be confused by some of the most frequently used words and phrases.
No, I can’t attend: I probably won’t attend, but I might if I’m in the neighborhood with several children along with my own.
Yes, I will attend: I’ll come if I feel like it, if all my children feel like it, if the weather is absolutely perfect, and if I’m in the neighborhood anyway, preferably with several children along with my own or else with only one child when I responded affirmatively for three and this particular trip has a required minimum in order to qualify for a group rate and/or tour guide.
Does this trip start at 10:00?: You know I won’t show up until 10:23 at the earliest, right? And I’ll throw a hissy fit if things started without us.
I’m calling from my cell phone! We’re on our way! We’ll be there very soon!: We’re not coming.
I understand that this trip is for kids age 10 and up: But my four-year-old is very gifted, so I know you don’t mean him.
I see you’ve posted about this trip on Facebook or an email loop: I will learn your phone number and call you 17 times before the trip, asking you questions you already posted the answers to or spending twenty minutes explaining why we can’t make it.
Can I pay at the door?: I RSVP’d in the affirmative, and don’t want to shell out the money unless I actually feel like showing up.
My child’s really looking forward to this field trip!: I’m really looking forward to dropping my child off on a trip that was specifically described as requiring parental attendance!
I’m really looking forward to this field trip!: I’m really looking forward to going along on a trip that already has the maximum allowed chaperones! I’m going to ask the tour guide lots and lots of questions, and answer all the questions she asks the kids!
Yes, that’s my child: You mean the one climbing the tree? The indigenous, endangered-species tree? In the courtyard? Specifically, the courtyard outside the guided museum tour we’re taking? The courtyard I have my back to? Yes, that’s my child. Why do you ask?
My child has so much imagination: My child is going to talk through the entire tour, and when the guide asks if she can please get a word in edgewise, I’m going to glare at that soul-killing monster as if I’m hoping to set her on fire by the sheer force of my hatred.
Oh, are those the rules of conduct?: We follow our own rules. They’re in this book, which I got from the evil parallel Star Trek universe.
So we’re supposed to pack lunches for this field trip?: I’m either not going to bring any food at all, or I’m going to bring plenty and give it to my child whenever he asks, even if we’re surrounded by fragile, priceless art.
I know outside food isn’t allowed on this trip: I’m bringing food.
I understand that this is a nut-free event: Peanuts aren’t nuts, are they?
I’m so glad you organized this trip!: And if you ever organize another one, I’m going to do all this again, and more!