As I explained about in my last post (https://thisizapen.wordpress.com/2014/11/09/what-being-home-schooled-is-like/), I’m homeschooled. The post was mostly an FAQ about homeschooling, so I was too busy answering questions to complete a full length rant about the people who interrogate me about it. That’s why I’m doing this post. For some reason, as soon as I say I’m homeschooled, people think it’s okay to bombard me with relentless, nosy questions concerning my day-to-day life. And these aren’t just normal questions; some of them are rather personal, actually. The ignorance and unpleasant audacity of people these days is surprising.
One of the most worst, and most common questions I get asked is “Do you have any friends?” Sure, some people manage to use basic paraphrasing skills, by instead asking me how or where I meet friends. But oh, I know what they’re getting at. We all know what they’re getting at. They don’t even try to hide it.
“How do homeschoolers get socialized?”
“WHY are your parents being irresponsible enough to neglect your basic need for socialization??”
Well done, what an utterly brilliant and benign question to ask! (I shouldn’t have to insert sarcasm asterisks to make my tone clear.) Firstly, you do NOT ask a stranger whether they have friends. Forget I said stranger. You do not ask anyone if they have friends. It’s just plain rude, man!
Secondly, to actually answer the question: YES, as a matter of fact, I do have friends. I do meet other people my own age. (I have friends of all ages… but that’s not the freakin’ question is it?) And how come I have friends? The answer is simple: Adults don’t go to school… and they have friends; they’re friends aren’t from a designated place. So I make friends in the same way as adults do: by engaging in C-O-N-V-E-R-S-A-T-I-O-N with people. Oh, yes I do meet people. I actually even leave the house sometimes! (Yes, sarcasm.)
Today, my dad told me he took a client of his out for lunch (Not to eat the client; they just went to a restaurant together. ) Guess what the client asked him about at one point? I’ll give you a clue: it was more like, quizzed him about. Surprise, surprise, homeschooling. Wow – well, done, client. Oh, right: And guess what the client’s main POINT about home-ed was?
“What I’m concerned about is socialization.”
God. I’m really, really temped to swear right now. A billion F-words are going through my mind and I’m picturing giving the client a good “talking-to.” Brilliant, Mr. Client – we’re really glad you voiced that concern. The question NEVER ONCE entered our minds when we were deciding to homeschool; we were totally unprepared for what we were getting ourselves into. You’ve really helped us! And it was completely your business.
When my dad told me that story, I really felt like smashing the client’s jaw in. But that wouldn’t perpetuate a flawless image of homeschoolers, would it? (Of course, if a school-goer smashed in someone’s face it would be a completely different deal.) Besides, I’m too nice.
Apparently, my dad started answering the question… but then the food arrived. He thankfully stood up and excused himself to wash his hands. When he returned, the conversation resumed, but about other matters. SAVED.
Right. After my dad finished telling me that story, my mum chimed in with one of her own. Apparently, a few years ago, in the lunch-break of one of her art courses, she was “chatting” with this woman… who was literally angry with her for “not thinking about her children.” According to my mum, the woman had told of how she’d had a “wonderful time at school.” My mum obviously “wasn’t thinking about her children’s needs.” The woman had been indignant. GOD. I would have given her a mouthful (No I wouldn’t have, because in situations like that I become too shocked to defend myself. Typical of me.)
I thought maybe there had been a significant age gap between this woman and my mum, the woman being the older party. But no; she was younger than my mum. Apparently my mum hadn’t really given a snappy response because my mum was new to it, and hadn’t thought to. I’m not blaming my mum, because I wouldn’t have either. I’m just really really angry with that woman who asked the questions.
Another rude question I get asked: How will you attend university?
Oh, completely your business, polite questioner. The answer: I might not; I’ll see if I want to when the time comes. If I wanna sit the test, I just find a school that will allow it, and sit it there.
The next question is usually: Then how will you get a job?
Well, sorry to shake up your small-minded world, but not everybody has to have a 9-5 office job. If I want that, sure I might need qualifications. But then, I might not, depending on the individual job. And if I don’t want the 9-5 office job then I shall be a jolly FREE-LANCER, pursuing a freer career.
One kind lady, when told that my mum teaches me and home, responded with * in a critical, self-important tone of voice*
“Ooh, I hope she’s qualified.”
I answered (Not rudely, but not sweetly with a smile either) and she proceeded to ask the other usual questions. I would now call her a bitch, but unfortunately she wasn’t a bitch. She’d actually seemed quite smart before that, which added to my disappointment when she started asking the questions.
A few times I’ve actually been introduced with the phrase, “This is Jamila. She’s homeschooled.” You see that? The “she’s homeschooled” comes tacked to the end of my name like it’s the only definition of who I am. Which means the person I’m being introduced to now knows, so they start their own interrogation session.
I always see try my hardest to withhold the fact that I learn from home, seeing how long I can go without mentioning it. I even have all these clever ways of avoiding such questions as “Are you on school holidays?” so that I don’t have to mention that I’m home educated. You know why? It’s so that I don’t have to endure the questions that will inevitably proceed.
When people start quizzing me about home education, it’s as if I’m not a person; I’m just a question-answering-machine. They don’t care about basic politeness, or about my feelings. They just have this urge, this desire to know more. They’re more CURIOUS than interested. I think the difference between curiosity and interest is that curiosity is more like an impulse or thirst than an actual long-term approval like interest.
When I find out people are Protestant, I don’t immediately hassle them with a-million-and-one nosy questions about their religion, do I? I don’t say “So, how often do you go to church? Do you pray every day? Do you have a shirt that says ‘I love Jesus’? How do you meet other protestants?” Same with when someone’s vegan. Imagine: “So what happens when you eat meat??? WHOA MAN: are you anemic? Jeez, so do you drink loads of soya milk then?? How long have you been vegan for? Why do you think it’s wrong to eat animals? WHAT?”
And when someone’s gay, do I go: “Is that LEGAL? Have you ever dated someone of the opposite sex?? Where do you meet other gay people? Have you ALWAYS known you were gay? When did you come out? Isn’t being gay wrong cuz it prevents you from dating people of the opposite gender? Do gay people have, like a secret handshake so they can recognize each other?”?
Do you see me asking people those questions? So don’t interrogate homeschoolers.
Wow, the social skills they teach at schools must be OUTSTANDING, seeing as school-goers are so good at grilling other people about their educational choices.