My brother and I not only studied using curriculums that met the New Jersey requirements for education, but we also completed the requirements for Maine as well. We wouldn’t have been able to receive real high school diplomas through NJ state law at the time, so I have a real high school diploma from a distance-learning program in Maine. My mother documented everything we did, scanned all papers and tests and grades, and assembled a massive binder every year for each kid that would be mailed to Maine. She dedicated a lot of time to those records over the years, and if she hadn’t, I might not have been accepted into college. It was important to her that we had real diplomas. She went so above and beyond with detail that at one point the Maine office told her they had never seen someone be so thorough. To supplement our curriculum, my mother started bringing the two of us to homeschool group activities around the county.
Homeschooling parents love to create group classes, field trips, and activity days for other local homeschoolers to attend. Sort of like my mother’s Young Authors’ Club but on a larger scale. It wasn’t a great way to make actual friends this way, however. You only saw each other in that co-op type format, which wasn’t everyday. It was usually every other week or once a month. And parents were always present. Sometimes it was fun, but other times it occurred to me that perhaps these gatherings weren’t really about the kids. Many times it seemed to be for the parents to get out of the house and have a chance to socialize with the other parents. Hey, homeschooling parents are only human, and I know they need time with others their age. It’s almost like there’s something missing when you stay at home all the time. Isolated from your peers. Not being challenged or encouraged in a group setting. Developing as a person away from people your age you can relate to or learn from. That sure sounds not great for you. Damaging, even!
Homeschooling parents are big on zoos, parks, and museums because they’re legitimately fun, but for some of the parents, it’s also a great place to go where your kids can be a hundred feet away from you, AND bonus! You can count it as today’s history, gym, or biology class if you spin it just right on their documentation! In my mind, those things aren’t class replacements; they are bonus learning experiences on top of going to school. But what do I know! I’m homeschooled.
My brother and I were shy and off to the side a lot of the time at these outings, but once in awhile excitement would happen. Like the time Peggy Sue, who wasn’t nice, ran in circles at the zoo so long that she got dizzy and ran smack into a pole. Take that, Peggy Sue! Karma is real! As great as that one is, my family liked to reminisce about another exciting moment in particular. It’s the one when I clocked another kid across the head with an old musket at someone’s house.
I know that sounded shocking, but this story is actually pretty simple. I wandered around this random homeschool family’s house during an event, found an old iron musket from Insert Historical War Here, thought it was cool to hold, and brought it into the backyard to sit at the top of the slide. As you do. I got shoved down the slide before I was ready by a kid with anger issues, and CRACK! He didn’t see it coming that I was a kid with even bigger anger issues, and I hit him with the musket. Broseph went down like a bag of bricks, and I was scared. Turned out he wasn’t even a homeschooler. He was a neighborhood kid. He ended up being okay (as far as I know), and I was dragged to his front door to say I was sorry later on. I remember not feeling truly sorry, because I wasn’t ready to go down the slide yet, and who pushes other kids down the slide before they’re ready? Who does that, some kind of asshole?
I would like to take this opportunity to say that there are way, way too many photos of kids with guns on the internet. I tried to find a visual aid, and now I’m depressed. So much so that instead of a visual aid for my musket story, we’re going with kittens. Look! Kittens! Kittens who are passionate about gun reform!
I’ll dedicate a post on its own to my experiences in homeschool choir and musicals. I was 13 when I had to wear a horrifying bonnet and a very itchy dress in a play that one of the homeschool moms wrote about Pilgrims and time travel. I wish I was kidding.