In the course of an e-mail debate I had with my friends yesterday, we veered off topic a few times and some things were said in the heat of battle that I realize may have hit a nerve, veering in to a sensitive area. My friend Rey has made a tough decision with his wife to school their children at home. Public schools were evil and dangerous when we were kids and have only gotten worse. Many private schools are good but very expensive. There's one a town over from where I live that has a higher tuition than my college.

I myself am a product of both public and private schools. I went to public school up until eighth grade, then my parents sent me to a private high school. It was expensive, and my parents made a lot of sacrifices. My mom has had many part-time jobs over the years but I was always her primary responsibility. She didn't work until I was in school, and then took jobs like being a teacher's aid so she could keep an eye on me and so our schedules coinciding. My dad was a mechanic which paid well enough, but it was tough. My mom fortunately was skilled at finding bargains, clipping coupons, shopping in thrift shops, etc., whatever it took for this family to have the things it needed with the money it had. They saved, and they put me not only through a good high school, but college as well. I had one scholarship that paid half my tuition for playing in the pep band, and an additional thousand for having gone to a Catholic high school. My parents paid the difference, and today I don't have some of the bills my friends may STILL be paying off.

Being a parent is hard. I don't know this first-hand, but I know I was a handful, and my parents survived. Rey's children are lucky to have parents willing to dedicate themselves to their children and share their rich knowledge of computers, music, religion and more with them. New York itself is expensive, and in most families both parents have to work. People get used to luxuries like cable or a new car or new clothes or high speed internet, and think they NEED these things to live. Rather than make do without some of the finer things, both parents may work and never be home to enjoy what their money pays for with their families. Where I work I'm CONSTANTLY bombarded with the sounds of mothers “phoning it in.” “DO YOUR HOMEWORK!” “PUT GRAMMA ON THE PHONE!” “FAILING IS NOT ACCEPTABLE; YOU GO RIGHT HOME AFTER SCHOOL!” “WHOSE HOUSE ARE YOU OVER?!” Most of these calls are truncated, because deadlines take priority. “JUST DO WHAT I SAY! I HAVE WORK TO DO; GOODBYE!” Some parents are forced in to these situations; I think others may choose it to run from what they perceive to be a harder task. Work can be controlled and predictable; children not so much.

Rey mentioned my use of the word “coddling”--I'm not certain whether I used it in reference to letting a child win a board game or homeschooling since the e-mail thread is long-deleted; I hope I didn't use it in reference to the latter. He's right to say that I “...spent [my] days going to school, avoided people, then running back to the safety of home.” I did have a small clique of nerds that I clung to like a safety net in public school, but I was so foolishly resistant to the new school my parents sent me to that I refused to make friends with anyone, and ended up with only one good friend only because he was persistent with me. I know Rey will have other children over, children of friends, and that there will be social get-togethers. Potentially, his homeschooled children can have all the social skills I lack. My agoraphobia and loner tendencies have nothing to do with my schooling and everything to do with the safety net of being an only child with overprotective parents. Otherwise, I might have left home and braved the world long ago. (If anyone was coddled, it was me, especially now that I suspect my own parents let me win a lot of board games:D) I don’t think homeschooling would have been for me; my parents already took TOO MUCH care of me(still do). That doesn’t mean it wouldn’t be fine for other children.

I'm sorry some of my insensitive comments yesterday hit so hard; they were really throwaway remarks that I wasn't putting much thought into, because I was on the defensive with my position on a less significant topic. I'm probably not the only one that's made any kind of comments against the homeschooling thing, so I'm sure there's more to Rey's reaction and post, but it seems like I triggered it. My sincerest apologies.

On a lighter note, I was going to blog about something different before I read that post; I saw a trailer for a new Robots CGI movie that looks great. I like anything with robots in it though, so I'm biased. Perhaps more on this tomorrow, as well as a review of I, Robot, which I liked, but fell asleep for an unfortunate half hour in the middle of the movie that had nothing to do with the movie, and everything to do with me being really, really tired. I think this cold air is really getting to me; I hate the winter.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

AGH!!! You didn't trigger it! It's been a post in the back burner for a while and I finally decided to do it after our discussion. Tulip Girl is a home schooler and she's been an encouragement to me, though she doesn't know it.


1/20/2005 11:36 PM  

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