Well, I was ready to be really irritated when I read an article with the title, "Why are homeschooled kids so annoying?"
And then I read the article, and they're right.
I spend a lot of time trying to "sell" homeschooling to my family and some skeptical friends.
I emphasize the freedom, the opportunity to explore passions, the ability to go deeper into learning with each child, and how much my kids are thriving.
And I play up how wonderful my kids are. And they *are* wonderful: Bright, funny, well-behaved (most of the time,) cheerful, helpful, kind. My 11-year-old son changes diapers, empties the dishwasher, cooks dinner, does laundry and begs for more history lessons.
My 7-year-old son loves to play with his sister, is charming, engaging, crazy about his pets and can be reluctantly talked into doing occasional chores.
But you know what?
Homeschooled kids, including my own, can also be annoying. And weird.
And instead of denying it and saying, "But homeschoolers aren't weird! They're normal!," I might as well embrace it.
We've been homeschooling since Sawyer was born; we've never done a single day of "regular" school.
And, despite the fact that people worry about "socialization," we know a ton of kids. And many, if not all of them, are either weird, annoying, or both.
There are kids who never, every shut up. Mine is one of them. Sawyer wants to talk to you. About Dr. Who, about Minecraft, about World of Warcraft, about the Peloponnesian War and why it was important. He wants to discuss politics, science fiction, and Calvin and Hobbes. Mostly, though, he just wants to talk.
Which is why I'm glad there are other, equally weird kids, sprinkled throughout our homeschool group. He can go to Park Day and find someone who will listen, and they can chatter away, non-stop, about which one of them is Sparta.
That's how he describes a girl in one of his classes: "She's Sparta, and I'm Athens, and that's why we don't get along."
As if I'm supposed to know what that means; I'm not the one who just studied the Greeks, and I have no idea what the hell he's talking about.
But the kids he's friends with do. They have games that involve vampires, Dr. Who, the Greeks and Spiderman all rolled into one. His friends are just as quirky, just as passionate. Some about skating, some about math, some about game playing. But if you ask any of them what they're interested in, what their hobbies and likes are, you'll never, ever get a shrug or an "I dunno." You'll get a torrent of information that you have to back away from slowly.
Then, of course, we have Platypus Boy.
Sander's been obsessed with platypuses since he was three. I know that the plural of platypus is either platypus or platypuses because I've looked them up so often. I know that they make Vitamin C in their liver, not in their kidneys, unlike other mammals, or maybe it's the other way around. In fact, that's all I hear about. That and poop. That's his other favorite word.
And Sander can go hang out with his friends and talk and play and he's not "the weird kid." He's just Sander. And everyone knows that if you want to find Sander, you have to look up. He's in the tallest tree, barefoot, hanging out, talking to people about animals.
And Scout, our almost-two-year-old, now says, "poop," and "platypus," and fits right in.
My kids are not the only weird homeschoolers.
They have friends who are obsessed with Legos, or Minecraft, or dragons, and some who have no manners at all, and some who obviously have a screw slightly loose and might be more than just a little bit weird.
But you know what? Good for them.
Good for them for following their passions, exploring what interests them and finding people who have similar interests.
Because you know what my kids don't talk about? Justin Bieber.
What they wear.
What "everybody else does."
What "they have to have, right now, because otherwise everyone will think they can't afford it."
And I'm good with that.
They don't know what the cool haircuts are, and neither do I, though I ask the lady at the haircutting place to give them a "normal kid's" haircut.
They have no idea what their "style" is. They have never read a fashion magazine, seen a show about Snooki or listened to pop music.
I just looked up the top ten songs this week.
I think I've heard the first one, "Somebody That I Used to Know," and so my kids might have heard it. I don't know any of the others, though I've heard of Justin Bieber and Kelly Clarkson, and I read about someone making fun of Niki Minaj.
My kids have no clue who any of them are. They will soon, I'm sure; Sawyer's turning 12 this summer and in the next year or so he'll discover music and I'll be an old person who doesn't know anything.
I hope he discovers some great bands, some new, and some old. I hope he loves Pink Floyd and Led Zeppelin and at least gives the Beatles a chance. And I hope for my own sake that he hates hip-hop, so I don't have to hear it.
But Sawyer will choose his own style, and if his friends don't like his music, and he doesn't like theirs, it won't be a big deal -- they've all grown up knowing that they have different interests and different taste.
I'm sure if Sawyer had to walk into a sixth-grade classroom tomorrow and start school, he'd be considered a weird kid.
He thinks he knows everything. He likes to tell you you're wrong, and that he knows more about it than you do. He likes to use the word, "expert" about himself, no matter how many times I tell him that he's not, really, an expert, not even a little (although I'd say Sander is close to being a platypus expert among 7-year-olds.)
And yeah, it's kind of annoying.
But I will take annoying and weird over mainstream and dumbed-down any day.
Sawyer will learn to temper his tongue. He will. He will learn that no matter how exciting it is to share his thoughts with other people, it's exciting to hear what others think, too.
But you can't learn enthusiasm, eagerness, and passion by following the crowd.
And a kid who thinks the platypus represents everything about him isn't ever going to blend in with the crowd anyway. He's going to be a little weird, no matter what.
I might as well embrace it and go along for the ride.
Sure, my kids are weird and annoying. But that's the least of their traits. And honestly, if that's the worst thing you can say about my kids? I'll take it as a compliment.