Homeschool Field Trips: A Translation Guide for the New and/or Desperate

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!

23 Responses to “Homeschool Field Trips: A Translation Guide for the New and/or Desperate”

  1. Michelle says:

    THANK YOU! :)

  2. dangermom says:

    Homeschoolers: we’re a squirrelly bunch.

    If it’s any comfort, I laughed through this whole thing. :)

  3. Cheryl says:

    It is universal :-( I would add “Thank you so much for arranging this. It is JUST what we want, but we can’t make that day/time. Could you please rearrange your entire life to accommodate me and make it X day/time instead”

  4. Thomas says:

    Psh. Peanuts AREN’T nuts. They’re legumes.

    But otherwise very good. I used to think I was pretty flaky, but I’ve seen some things, maaaaan. Things that’ll change you. o.o

    • Deborah says:

      Bad boy. You know what I meant re the peanuts. It’s a good thing your last couple of sentences made me laugh, hard, or I would have to go all bitter on you.

  5. Antonia Bologna says:

    Ack! All of this has happened to me years ago. So what did I do when I came back to the U.S. and San Diego, specifically? I made a promise to set up certain field trips. Have I been regretting it, once my memory served me a back hand upon being serviceable again (puns intended)? Yes, you’re darn tootin’ I am. I have semi-set up one, have started on another and I plan on a 3rd and then I will not set up any more… until I happen to mention the next art museum we are going to… sighing. Will I never learn?

  6. Mecarol says:

    Personally, I enjoy the flakiness of our homeschool group – it makes me look downright responsible. My kids, on the other hand, say things like, “At least they (other friends of ours) aren’t like the homeschoolers; they won’t be 45 minutes late!”

  7. MJ says:

    Ha, ha, ha, ha, ha! Brilliant, Deborah. Simply brilliant!

  8. Susan says:

    Oh my goodness! I thought it was just MY group! Sorry for your troubles, but it is good to know that I am not the only exhausted field trip coordinator. I finally got so discouraged that I actually asked for help! Can you believe that? And nobody offered to help! Can you believe that? In fact, 2 people wrote back & asked me to take them off the list! So my group is now defunct. Wow–it feels good to get this all off my chest.

  9. Alasandra says:

    To be fair public school parents do the same thing. When my kids were still in public school and I threw birthday parties for them and asked for people to RSVP the would:

    say they were coming but then not show up/bring their kids – the usual excuse for this one was they were hung over from Mardi Gra, so and so had a Christmas program they had to go to, they FORGOT.

    say they were not coming but then show up because they didn’t have anything better to do and they found out so and so was going to come.

    • Deborah says:

      So the guy who told me that it’s not homeschoolers, it’s just that people suck, was on to something? I’m a little depressed now.

  10. Carrie says:

    I love the reference to the “gifted” child. That is one of the key reasons my older children stopped going to things.

    But i think there is a misconception that by home schooling you don’t have rules to follow. so so many dance to their own beat.
    Sometimes it works sometimes not

    we are rounding the corner toward the end of our journey and the whole society has changed over the years

  11. Briana says:

    WOW! Been there, done that. We have learned and now have a list of “rules” and stuff to go along with all of our events…and we plan a pretty good bit of them!

  12. I live by the evil parallel Star Trek universe rule book personally.

    I hope all your posts are this bitter, I’ll have a look through. Thanks for sharing!

  13. Daphne says:

    Ef-ing brilliant.

  14. Debra G says:

    I used to be in a group like that. It’s such a bad example. It makes homeschoolers look so bad.
    Thankfully, the group I belong to now has rules in place to combat most of it. Stuff still happens, but not nearly as often.

  15. Rebecca says:

    I am sorry this happened to you. It stinks. But I have seen all these take place from non-homeschoolers, as well. I think it speaks more to the character of these people, than anything else.

  16. Amanda says:

    Wow! I love you!! I was researching homeschool because I am looking to pull my 14 year old out of public school, as she seems to have went from an independent “do her own thing” type to a highly impressionable, hormonal alien that I don’t even recognize anymore. The drugs and promiscuity in this public school system scares the bejeesus out of me! She’s fighting me as hard as she can and wants to stay in public school; which solidifies my belief that this system has become a hangout after the age of 12 :/.

    I generally don’t like people too much because of some of the very same things you posted in this blog. So, rather than speak up, I have become a hermit and avoid people at all costs. I used to be a “social butterfly”. I could get along with anyone, loved people, loved visiting, loved getting together with “friends”. But, I began being vocal about some of those behaviors, and learned that I had no friends. I should mind my own business, I shouldn’t tell my friend’s child (whom is not being watched by said friend) that he shouldn’t tease the lion because it will get him all mad and he could hurt the trainer; keep in mind that this was not said to my face btw, but to another “friend”. Control your child and I wouldn’t have to do it for you :|.

    I thought that homeschool would make my life easier, but I guess I see that idiots exist in all walks of life.

    It’s simple people; follow the dang rules! They exist for a reason!

    [stepping off my soapbox now :)]

  17. Karen says:

    I have scheduled SO MANY *WE CAN’T WAIT* trips, planned so many *WE’LL BE THERE WITH BELLS ON* events, and organized so DAMN many *THANKS FOR PLANNING SUCH A GREAT EVENT* events…. that only WE attend that I have simply stopped planning them!

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