Irreverent Mama

Monday, March 05, 2007

I've been homeschooling Bekah for a few months now. She was homeschooled till grade four, went to school for four years, and decided to take a breather from the pressure cooker that is middle school before beginning high school next year.

She's enjoying her space. She's taking a couple of (grade nine!) courses by correspondence, she's improved her flute no end with her terrific new teacher. She's taking a college-sponsored ASL course, just for fun. She's spending time drawing, reading, writing, thinking. In short, she's getting a good education.

She misses being with other kids, though. It's an issue for homeschooled kids. The parent has to take particular pains to ensure they mix with other children. She does have friends in the neighbourhood, of course, but sadly, they're shut up in school all day. So, what to do? Well, seek out the local homeschooling group, and see if anyone out there is interested in getting together.

We've met a few. Most were nice, but the kids just didn't connect. (Though in one case, the other mother and I hit it off so well we're going out for coffee next week.)

And then we had the meeting last Saturday. Mother and son were to come to our home for a couple of hours. They arrive (half an hour late). First impressions weren't stellar: mom has long gray hair parted in the middle and straggling down beside her face until it faded away, dispirited, in the general area of her shoulders. Son - who is thirteen, remember - sports a very stylish bowl cut. He's got lovely hair, thick and shiny, and, unlike the picture in that link, covering his ears - but, but, but... it's in a bowl cut! Okay for four-year-olds, but...

I mentally scold myself. How petty I am! I remind myself that I'm all about living as you see fit, not worrying about arbitrary and ridiculous dictates of 'cool'.

Okay. So we shall overlook the JK styling on the teenage boy.

The rest of the visit is largely boring, punctuated by the following little nuggets:

- He and mom had asked before they arrived whether we had pets, and were delighted to know we had a hamster. When they arrived, they wanted to see her right away. As soon as the boots had been removed and coats hung, we all proceed immediately to the kitchen. Where they haul out their camera and start taking pictures of the hamster. (Maybe it's just me... Does this strike you as just a teeny bit odd?)

- He does not want to hold the hamster when Bekah offers it to him. "I don't know it yet." Um, and how will you get to know it if you don't introduce yourself? He'll just takes a few more pictures, instead. Oh. Maybe he plans to pet them when he gets home?

- They take pictures at random intervals. Never one of myself or Bekah, thank god, but odd things. I came down from the bathroom and caught mom snapping pics out a window that overlooks the drive. The section of the drive that houses a couple of bicycles, the garbage tins, and the gates to our back yard and our neighbour's. (???)

- He was gung-ho to show Bekah a slide-show he'd made of some computer images he'd created. They sat side by side on the couch with Bekah's DVD player (he didn't know there were such things as portable DVD players) as elevator music drifted around the room for four minutes. Later, I discovered that the show was eight pictures, repeated over and over to the background of the elevator music. Eight pictures. In the same order. To elevator music. For four minutes.

- He was also gung-ho to play our piano, because he's been playing for a while now, and he's pretty good. No, he doesn't take lessons. He listens to music, tries to reproduce it, and then "makes it better". In fact, he has a composition he's working on. Would we like to hear it?

- He plays piano like a dying elephant, blundering woodenly about a couple of octaves of the keyboard, deafening all within a 3-metre radius.

- Ours is an electric piano, so I showed him how he could record his composition. He was fascinated by this, and replayed his auditory assault half a dozen times. At full volume. (Does the boy have a hearing problem?)

- And no, he wasn't interested in hearing me play the piano (not that I offered), nor in hearing Bekah play her flute. His mother suggested he might like to listen. No, not today, thanks.

- He admitted that he didn't much like sharing. Mom chortled affectionately at this.

- When the kids said they were hungry, I handed each of them a banana. He looked at his and stuttered, "How do I...?" I looked at him, blank. How does he what? His mother explained, "He's never started one." HE'S THIRTEEN FUCKING YEARS OLD AND HE CAN'T PEEL A BANANA!!!

- Thankfully, he likes the same computer game that is one of Bekah's favourites at the moment, so we were able to survive the last hour of the visit by allowing them computer time. Leaving me with Mom.

- Mom, who bemoaned the changes in the ghastly suburb where they live. "We might have to move out to the country. It's getting so big and busy. It used to be so suburban." Oh. Suburban as a good thing. How... suburban.

- They had to leave by four, because it was Saturday, and she didn't want to drive "after dark with all the drunks". Because lord only knows we city folk are notorious for hammering back the booze at five in the afternoon so as to drive home drunk for dinner...

- The next day, I got an email from mom, thanking me for the visit, and asking if we would please erase his 'composition' from our piano. It's a work in progress, see, and so... (Here's a thought, you nut job: I'll erase his gawdawful noises if you erase all those pictures you took without asking in my house.)

These people are the poster family for "The Risks and Disadvantages of Homeschooling".

He couldn't peel a banana.

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  • I have just guffawed my way through this post - really funny. I reckon they are just a bunch of genuine nerds - and very unlikeable ones by the sounds of it. Blimey!

    By Blogger Wendz, at 5:26 p.m.  

  • Banana Boy....The mascot for the Nutjob Preparatory Academy.

    By Anonymous Kimberly, at 6:40 p.m.  

  • Holy shit, that's funny!
    That's very funny, but also scary. Perhaps they were casing the joint with all the pictures. Ah, what do I know, I'm still liquored-up from my daily 4pm drink-fest.

    By Blogger Denguy, at 9:17 p.m.  

  • Oh. My. God.

    Took photos of your house and environs without asking? Pounded on the piano and forced polite Bekah to watch his idiotic "slide show", yet refused to be courteous enough to listen to Bekah play the flute? Had NEVER STARTED A BANANA?

    I'm flabbergasted. And scary, as denguy said. Mom's a nutjob, and son is being raised to be, at BEST, a self-centered asshole. Kudos to you for being able to put up with them all day.

    By Blogger Carolie, at 11:06 p.m.  

  • son cannot start peeling a banana either. Although once I start it for him, he's a good peeler.

    Did I mention he was 2?

    Wow. Good on you for being so...well...tolerant.

    I'd love to hear more about your homeschooling. This is something I've thought about for my boys, although I don't know if I'd be able to survive.

    By Anonymous Naomi (Urban Mummy), at 2:17 p.m.  

  • wendz - Nerds. Of course. Why didn't I recognize that immediately? This makes the oddities more sympathetic, somehow, except for the unrepentent self-absorption. Ah, well. My daugher got to practice her social graces, at any rate, surviving the afternoon without braining him.

    kimberly - how well do they think they're preparing the child for the world out there if he can't even feed himself a piece of fruit? BIZARRE.

    Denguy - Damned good thing I didn't offer her anything stronger than mint tea, wasn't it?

    Carolie - if he's being raised to be a self-centred asshole, then I can attest to the fact that they have already succeeded! See? Their child's a prodigy...

    Naomi - if you want to talk about homeschooling, send me an email. (irreverentmama at gmail dot com) The primary years are easy - easy - to homeschool. Really. The prerequisites are really only two: You must love spending time with your kids, and you must love learning yourself. Anything else is window dressing.

    (Though, as this post teaches us, a certain amount of social awareness doesn't go amiss...)

    By Blogger irreverentmama, at 3:30 p.m.  

  • kimberly - how well do they think they're preparing the child for the world out there if he can't even feed himself a piece of fruit? BIZARRE.


    That family is the exemplar of everything that can go wrong with homeschooling. Homeschooling can be a wonderful thing--witness Becca--but, when it's not, you end up with self-absorbed assholes in training who can't open bananas by themselves.

    Man, I'd love to get an update on Banana Boy in 10 years, see how reality is working out for him.

    By Anonymous Kimberly, at 11:59 a.m.  

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