Tuesday, July 28, 2009

fitting in, part 1

Watch out for these dudes in about ten years.

Ok, wait. You'd better watch out for them now :)

A couple days ago the boys asked me if I could color their hair.
I smiled.
And said Yes.

(It's just washable markers. Works like a charm, and comes out slick.)

What does this have to do with anything? Namely, the title?

When I was in 10th grade, I colored my hair blue. On a whim. But 15 years ago if you colored your hair blue, you were a freak. Part of the alternative crowd. Now they have cheerleaders...teachers, even, with red and purple streaks. Now its fashionable. Its cool.

Anyway, my blue was totally temporary. (Washable markers, again.) And it was kind of fun...and a little frustrating...to wrap my head around the responses that people gave me regarding my new 'do. One teacher freaked out, seeing as how before that day I was apparently a Barbie Doll, super awesome student. But on this particular day, not so much. Now, I was one of those "alternative kids". I didn't fit the Barbie doll super awesome student mold anymore. (Interesting, since I didn't think I ever really had.)

I was kind of stuck in school, seeing as how the Barbie Doll thing never worked out (cheerleaders weren't too keen on my sarcasm) and the alternative crowd never worked out (they said I was just a poser). So there I was in a suburban mini-city (high school) where people ask "so what crowd do you hang with?" and no answer to give.

People, and their crowds, can be so elitist. Segregating. Rigid. Fenced in.
Fast forward 15 years. Present day.
I'd like to say that things have changed, but I'd be lying.

I've been thinking a lot about the end part of this darling's post, where she talks about having conflicted feelings about unschooling. I've also read (and re-read) the comments that were left. The whole thing gives voice to exact thoughts I've had on the same subject.

I think when you try to define a way of life whose basic belief is freedom, you run into all sorts of problems. How do you put a fence around that? When you start to define it, it becomes less of what it is, sometimes. I mean, if the point of unschooling is that the kids are free to learn, why do we have people snubbing their nose at kids who might want to pick up a workbook one day? Or play a game that (gasp!) might be described as downright edu-mah-cational?

I'm a member of some unschooling groups/lists, and sometimes I don't get it. The way things get picked apart, the somewhat elitist attitude that some seem to carry for subscribing to that way of life...or the you-clearly-haven't-done-your-research-about-unschooling-because-what-you're-doing-is-not-unschooling conversations that go on. Oh really? So if I'm not unschooling, what the F am I doing? I've never really understood how something based in freedom and flexibility can sometimes be so...rigid.

I mean, really. How can you not "fit in" to freedom? Isn't the point that everything fits?

I just get tired of groups. And rules. Boundaries that make no sense. Definitions that change. Trying to fit and knowing you don't. But still wanting a name. Wanting a way to identify yourself, if only to find other people like you. It was the same 15 years ago as it is today. Is it ever ok to do just do what we want? To hop in between groups...and maybe not fit into anyone of them?

Perhaps, when people ask what kind of homeschoolers we are, I should just answer...
"we do what we do".
and smile sweetly.


Stephanie said...


;) Just kidding.


Green Mamma said...

Okay, so I'm technically a wannabe homeschooler but given my current status, I still find the whole elitism of what real unschoolers are versus not to be well, amusing. I've observed similar elitism among other groups, so I tend to think that human beings will find something to get on a soap box about even when it involves a group of folks who otherwise might feel like they're on the "fringe" of mainstream society (I've seen this in some of the alternative parenting groups that I frequent). I had to laugh at your analogy between high school and parent/schooler scenarios; in high school, I wasn't "Barbie" enough because I hung out in the art room with the "weird" kids and yet among the "weird" kids I was too normal, whatever that means.

You know what, I'm learning it doesn't matter . . . it comes down to how you put it: do what it is you do; besides, we can't really know how we're perceived by others, we can only imagine or make inferences that can be totally off base.

Well this turned into a rather long comment.

Jennifer said...

I think anyone that meets your boys can easily see how well educated they are. They are great kids! Whatever kind of schooling you're doing on any particular day is obviously working :o)
I don't know if I just have that "don't f with me" look, but I never get anyone giving me shit about what kind of homeschooling I do. Either that or maybe I just have too many kids to stand in one spot long enough to hear them asking me, lol!
For me it's more about what works for MY kids and whether or not they are learning anything. If I were doing one kind of homeschooling or another, and I didn't feel like they were happy, or were learning anything, I would find something else to do. I often ask people what they are using or whatever, just because I'm trying to educate myself on what's out there, but I honestly couldn't care less why they use it. They could sort sand all day long and I'd just say "hey whatever works for ya", lol.
As far as the snooty people. I think if people like that spent as much time and energy on their own lives and families, they'd be much happier people :o) When someone is angry and unhappy, they tend to take it out on other people, and being able to do it on the computer is beyond convenient. They can be bitchy and then log off and not have to deal with it. Someone that is REALLY happy is just not going to be like that.
Keep your chin up girlie - and find some new groups :o) You rock - but you already know that :o)

MamaTea said...

Aw...well ain't you all so sweet?

Thanks for the words. I know there are people out there who "get it".


Ruralmama said...

(wink, wink)

I get it, sugar.

Wanna go teal this time? I can't promise it'd show up in my hair (smirk), but I'd give it a go.

I'm seeing that this is a "part 1"--so you'll be sure that I'm watching out for the "part 2".

Oh boy, do I get it.

jessamyn said...

i so get this mama.
i do.

topsytechie said...

My old Baptist background is begging me to say:
AMEN, Sister!!!

mamak said...

You know I am just getting around to reading part 1 now, Can you believe i missed it?? Anyway, I, like you, never had a group, I was here and there, and i still am. It's not a bad thing, at all, just a wonky place. All in all, its nice to be a lone gun, but sometimes, you know it would be kinda nice to, I don't know, relate totally. But, it seems like I found a bunch of folks that I relate totally with. I guess you are all my peeps!

Kez said...

I love this post!! I've just been through the whole thing and coming out the other end to decide "I'm eclectic and proud of it!"!!