Homeschooling is pretty popular right now. There are YouTube sensations that were made famous by their "You Know You're A Homeschooler When..." videos. There are very successful bloggers who write about and for homeschoolers and moms. Homeschooling is the fastest growing form of education in our country. Some might say homeschooling is the latest fad.
Well, it wasn't always that way. I was homeschooled as a kid and I remember when it made us odd, not unique and interesting. I remember having to stay in the basement when anyone knocked on the door because they could report us for not being in school. I remember not being allowed to play outside until after 2pm because of nosy neighbors who could report us. I remember going shopping and having to come up with a creative response as to why we were not in school. "We had dentist appointments. Yes, all 6 of us, in one day." Maybe my memory is skewed because I was a child, my mom probably remembers things differently. But I remember knowing that we were not the norm, even after homeschooling became legal in Nebraska. Sure, we knew hundreds of other families that were homeschooled that we saw regularly, but we were still a fringe group.
I suppose I was a "sheltered homeschooler", although that kind of makes me laugh inside since one of my close friends, who went to public school, wasn't allowed to play with me for a while because I was "a bad influence". So I guess I couldn't have been too sheltered.
Looking back, maybe I would've dressed a little bit more stylish if I hadn't been homeschooled. Maybe I wouldn't have worn wooden clothes pins in my hair if I had gone to public school (one of the many weird things I did). Maybe I would have dressed a little bit more girly. Maybe I wouldn't be so embarrassed by what I was wearing, or how I did my hair while looking at my pictures from Junior High and High School.
Maybe if I hadn't been homeschooled I wouldn't have been so awkward around boys. Sure, I saw boys all the time. My older brother brought his basketball friends over all the time, the neighbor boys would come over often, I had friends at church that were boys, I had friends that were boys through the homeschool group and activities. But I didn't know how to interact with a boy beyond the friend stage. Maybe I would have known more if I had gone to public school.
But then, maybe not. Maybe I still would have gone through a very long, and very painful, "ugly stage" if I had gone to public schoo. And just maybe, I would have been bullied and picked on because of it. I look back at the crazy things I used to wear and although it looks silly now, I enjoyed it then. It was a true expression of me, because I didn't have a group of people telling me what I should and shouldn't wear to be accepted. I still had friends. I had friends that dressed weirder than I did! I had my rough moments through my younger years, I got picked on, I was pretty insecure at times. But most of my memories are good memories. I had fun with my friends, I did a lot of interesting things, I had a very well-rounded experience. I played sports, I was in band, I played piano, I went to church, I went to summer camp and winter camp, I helped teach 4-H classes, I went to France for my Senior trip, I visited friends in New Jersey by myself, and I had a lot of other opportunities for other experiences if I had been interested. Maybe I would have had the same opportunities at Public School, but maybe not.
Maybe I still would have been awkward around a guy that I liked if I had gone to public school. Or maybe I wouldn't have been awkward around boys. Now there's a scary thought. I think I would much rather my younger self not being comfortable around guys than thinking of what could have happened.
Maybe, just maybe, I'm grateful for being that sheltered homeschool kid. Maybe I look back at my pictures from about 12 and up and think, "Praise God I was a sheltered homeschooler." Because I look at the heartache and trials that kids go through and I can't imagine having to deal with that. I was able to go through my ugly stage surrounded by people who loved me, and by people who were also going through their ugly stage, and didn't know it either! There were a few bullies in my life (ironically most of them went to public school), but for the most part everyone just did what they wanted, dressed how they wanted, and did weird science experiments involving dry ice in the parking lot after the homeschool group meeting. Well, not everyone did that, but I bet it happened more at our group meetings than it ever did at the local high school.
This is for all of my fellow former-homeschooled friends that look back at their pictures with regret because we were a bunch of homeschooled, sheltered dorks. Don't be ashamed. Be grateful. I'm not trying to bash public schools, or public schoolers. I just want my now grown homeschooled friends to realize that we were not deprived of anything. And if we were, we are better because of it!