Dear Self-Righteous Civilians: Do Please Kindly Shut Up

[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.


28 Responses to “Dear Self-Righteous Civilians: Do Please Kindly Shut Up”

  1. I gather that the neutral and sympathetic masses don’t typically read your blog, but all two of us who do are, as you predict, going to be hurt by being lumped in.

    • Deborah says:

      Sweetie, that’s what I was trying to make clear! If you’re not a homeschooler or an ass-clown, you are Switzerland and should relax and enjoy the total insanity.

  2. Melissa says:

    Wow those are some sentence enhancers in there! I agree with you, in a not so cursing kind of way, and I don’t mince words with non homeschoolers, or homeschoolers either. I tell people on a regular basis to mind their own business and worry about what their own children are doing or not doing.

    • Deborah says:

      My son and I adore your choice of words! What you call “sentence enhancers,” my son calls “You owe the cuss jar four thousand dollars, Mom.”

  3. Sarah says:

    Bwaahahahahaaa! I’ve been on the receiving end of this recently, when we decided to put 2 of our children in school and the other one is staying at home. People are VISIBLY RELIEVED that we’ve put the kids back into school, but WRING THEIR HANDS about the third. Someone said “I’ll be interested to see what happens with her” as if she’s some sort of science experiment…. yes. I’ll be interested, too, because I’m her mother and her life is my responsibility. Unlike you.

  4. Antonia Bologna says:

    Deb, I ran into this just last month, again, on FB. Some irritating teacher said “all homeschooled kids are weird and when they go to public school they are not only not prepared but they never fit in.” I did point out to her that there are plenty of weird kids that go to public school that were never homeschooled, but somehow in her head, homeschooling made weird kids. Yes, I was prepared to lose my shit on her but this was on someone else’s wall and I thought, crap, I can’t do that to my friend, and I managed to make my point while being all nicey-nicey.

    And your friend in the comment above? I’m shaking my head. You were pretty darn specific about who this blog post was aimed at people who still make stupid remarks about homeschoolers.

    I say this to my kids all the time, I say “Don’t stick your finger in the electrical socket” and if you haven’t done that, nor are about to do it, then this statement was probably not aimed at you. Please people, don’t make everything about you and your feelings. Sometimes we read things and get our panties all twisted up about the wrong things.

    I shared your post to my wall. Thanks Deb, I can’t seem to be able to write this kind of thing on my own wall with the right amount of snarkiness.

  5. Linda says:

    You are spot on, Miss Deborah. I wasn’t homeschooled, but private schooled for a few years. When I was placed back into public school, it was a nightmare. I was taught to stand back, observe, then interact accordingly when in a new environment. This was taken as being “snobbish.” I ended up quitting in 11th due to the fact that I was so fed up with the B.S. that it was either quit or kill someone. Keep venting! Being nice does not always work.

  6. Charlene says:

    Preach it. I don’t homeschool, and I am a teacher, but I love homeschooling and wish more would do it. And you are right on; people are SUPER judgmental about anything they have bias about- homeschooling being one of those choices.

    Keep speaking in the voice you want to, because for now, at least we are free to do so.

  7. RockinASkirt says:

    Like how you worked “obstreperous” in there. See, you ARE good homeschool PR.

  8. Jane says:

    Oh. Yeah. <3 My experience: I put my kids in school when the eldest was in grade 4 because I was really sick (and pregnant. And moving house. Gah.) Anyways, I kept asking for some testing for my eldest and was basically told, no it's because he was homeschooled. Four years later, we got an autsim diagnosis. -_-

  9. Aimee says:

    Bwahaahaaha! Love you Lady. Thank you for using your brilliance and bitterness for the betterment of society.
    Thanks for not being afraid to use (create) the term ass-clown.
    Do let me know which chocolate is your favorite form of currency. I owe you.

  10. Harriet ~ Proud Wife and Mother of United States Marines says:

    We gruelingly homeschooled several years, moved from the apartments (where we refused to put the kids in school) to a home of our own and, to give me a breather, put all 3 kids in the ‘great’ school for our address for all of 2 years: K-1, 4-5, 7-8. Worst. Decision. Ever.

    Pulled them out to continue homeschooling. Child #2, a son, a self-taught reader by 6 and an avid learner, was the 4-5th grader and had had his spirit so broken that he lost the will to learn. We continued and in 12th grade he began “Running Start” (program where highschoolers can go to local community college).

    All he’d ever wanted to be was a Marine. He enlisted in early enrollment 12 days after turning 17. He didn’t finish running start before leaving for the yellow footprints–the Marines didn’t care. Especially after his ASVAB scores were so high his recruiters gave him the “Hawaiian good luck symbol” (you will understand that reference if you are as old as I am) when he came back to the office with scores much higher than any of theirs. He is outgoing, kind, hardworking, intelligent, killer sense of humor, writes better than most people, the best image of a Marine you could imagine in bearing, comportment, and honor. He is a hard worker, liked by all, married at 18 (after boot) to the wonderful young lady he’d given his heart to at age 15. They will have their first baby just after their 4th anniversary early next year and are doing great.

    About a year ago, into his 3rd year of active duty, he was in a casual discussion with some of his workmates and the Staff Sergeant was speaking those common diatribes about homeschooled people being substandard academically and socially. My son said “So” as he sort of leaned back, put his hand to his chin and tapped his lower lip with his finger “you think *I’m* STUPID and have no social skills?” (He clearly is neither of those and the SSgt knew it.) I’d have given hard cash to have been a fly on the wall at that moment of comeuppance!

    Moments like those make all the hard “we don’t look like that serene family on the cover of the homeschooling magazine” hours and days of pulling my hair out by the roots worth every minute!

    Great article–I thoroughly enjoyed it and identify with it! I also thought you made it quite clear that if someone wasn’t behaving like a turd they could easily compute that you weren’t talking about them or to them. But some will still get butt-hurt anyway. Such is life. Ooorah. and thanks!

  11. Carolyn says:

    Beautiful. Frekking beautiful. Going to share this with certain friends and family members.

  12. Colleen says:

    Love this! When visiting my family a few years ago, my son had issues with his cousins (whom he met for the first time). They were teasing him for complaining about sun in his eyes (you’re from Guam, what’s wrong with you?) and for not being able to play baseball (so we aren’t athletes in our family) and when my son came into the house to complain, Grandma said “oh it’s because he is homeschooled, he doesn’t know how to socialize”. She didn’t see how on the playground at the park, my son organized a game with several kids he didn’t know and had everyone playing together for hours with no issues.

  13. Kristine says:

    Even worse when those attitudes come from your own family (my mom and former teacher brother in particular) especially now that my older one is high school age. grrrrr :-S
    Wish I could give this to them, but I’m sure they wouldn’t read it. So I play nice and seethe inside and go about my business. Not looking forward to the holidays and the potential gang war that I have a feeling will ensue.

  14. Princess Mom says:

    Hellz yes! My middle son was “quiet” when he was at public elementary school. After I brought him home in 7th grade, he became “under-socialized.” (Umm, he’s been home for 18 months after six years in public school. How does that work again?) His public school German teacher made a point to tell us at every parent-teacher conference how worried he was about Wolfie’s behavior. A People-to-People group leader made ominous sounds about a “child with behavior problems” whose parents “never disclosed” the issues and the kid apparently went ballistic overseas while looking at him the whole time. When we finally asked if she was so concerned that we should arrange for him to travel with another group, she claimed to have no idea what we were talking about.

    Look, I get it. My son is the strong, silent type. Remember when that was admirable? Jeez.

  15. Elizabeth says:

    So complete right. And by the way, in scouts, the painfully shy kid is in public school. The really loud kid who says whatever comes into his brain without any filters whatsoever is mine. Naturally many agree that it is because he’s homeschooled. Nevermind the Aspergers and ADHD. And the fact that he’s homeschooled because he just didn’t fit into school — well that never seems to get added into the equation.

    One thing you missed is this goody. “Wow, your son is really smart. Where does he go to school?” followed by the pregnant silence when you tell them. One week later, he’s not smart any longer, he’s just socially awkward.

    And then there’s also the moment when the same people who have been ostracizing you ask you tutor their child who is flunking math… Good to know I’m a weirdo homeschooler right up until you need me, folks.

  16. Katherine Burris says:

    I love this! Hahaha! So true.

  17. andikrahn says:

    I love you for saying this for all of us!!!! …and for using the word ass-clown:)
    I’ll never forget someone asking if I was doing a “social experiment” on my child, I replied that I can’t do social experiments on other peoples children, im not in the NEA;)
    viva la revolución !!

  18. Erin says:

    Ya know, this is good for ME to stop telling MYSELF about every “flaw” in my kids. Thanks for the reminder that kids are themselves and I don’t have to blame myself for things that are just part of kids growing into themselves.

  19. [...] You studied medicine, Doc, not the keys to all knowledge of the universe. And that makes you a civilian in this field. And as The Bitter Homeschooler says: Dear Self-Righteous Civilians: Do Please Kindly Shut Up. [...]

  20. When I originally commented I clicked the “Notify me when new comments are added” checkbox and now each time a comment is added I get four e-mails with the same comment.
    Is there any way you can remove people from that service?

  21. Haha… I felt exactly this way about the original article. And as for Representing Homeschool? It never goes away. I’ve graduated from college and I still feel like everything I am or do is going to reflect on That Kind of Education.

  22. Tom says:

    You should create an article with just the part after “Speaking of which: The actual point of this posting!” I want to link to this article, but the first half is too meta and just confuses people! :)

  23. Karen says:

    OK, and if you don’t mind my also adding: My homeschooled child does NOT have to defend their lifestyle to YOU. Nor do they have to take your smug little TEST.
    Put your attention on your own kid…who is probably weird or out bullying someone in the sandbox…
    Homeschoolers don’t really want your approval.

    *breath* Better now.

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