It usually starts out with someone asking with sympathy and concern showing on their face, "How are the boys doing (with homeschooling)?" I need to explain that the implication is, how are the boys doing with not having any social interaction, being held hostage by two needy and controlling parents, and not actually having any challenging academics provided to them?
My question to them is, "How is your child doing having to function within the dysfunction of the classroom, not getting to interact with their siblings and parents other than at a rushed dinnertime so they can get started on homework, not having the freedom to decide when to do school work and when to have fun, and not being able to work ahead in their favorite subjects at school because that would screw up the teacher's lesson plans for the year?"
I find that when they ask, they really are wanting to hear all of the gory details of our failings at trying to educate our children at home and how we plan to enroll them into a regular classroom setting as soon as possible.
They don't want to hear that our 8th grader, who, when tested in math, tested low and was placed in a 7th grade level math book and that he just finished his 7th grade math with an 89% average and has begun his 8th grade math with the intention of finishing by the end of the school year. They don't want to hear about his week long road trip with his dad and grandpa to see his Uncle Randy, our plans for week long vacations in February and then again in May.
They don't want to hear about us taking the day to go down to Olympia to let our legislatures know about how much we enjoy and value our homeschooling experience. They don't want to hear about how some days we all sleep in until 10:30 because we were just "tired". They don't want to hear about the workshops that the boys will attend at the University of Washington in March.
They don't want to hear about our older son participation in the Missoula Children's Theater production of Robin Hood and how it does not impact his ability to "do school". They don't want to hear that both boys are playing and enjoying basketball. They don't want to hear that the boys are not required to take the WASL because of their "part-time" status through Washington Virtual Academy. They don't want to hear about the boys' participation in a computer animation class at the local community college. They don't want to hear about our younger son's participation in a writers group which then inspired him to begin another writer's group with his other friends. Did I mention that they are going to each publish books and invite friends and family members to a book signing?
They certainly don't want to hear about Tim doing his schoolwork on a Sunday so he can go snowboarding on a Monday with his Uncle Johnny up at Mt. Baker, repeatedly, and not have to worry about "making" his work up. They don't want to hear about the songs they've learned and composed on the guitar with their dad and uncle.
After all that, I'm fairly certain that they don't want to hear us say that we actually like homeschooling. That it provides our family freedom, flexibility, and fun. As a mother and a former teacher I know that the education that my children were receiving at a private school was compromised at times by what was going on in the classroom, the teacher's mindset, and the pressures we felt with our different schedules that we faced as a family. There were times when teachers told us that although they were sorry, there was not any flexibility on due dates for various assignments, they were unable to review materials in class just because your child had not mastered it, or that they could not prevent your child's grades from being negatively impacted by unexpected absences (vacations, roadtrips, and educational outings) at various times of the year. They were sorry but if they made exceptions for one then they'd have to make exceptions for everyone...we had little control...it was not our classroom...now it is...and we love it! What can I say, I'm sorry?