Friday, July 15, 2005

VBS Play and Townsfolk

I was so proud of DD last night. She did a wonderful job, and had the lead part in her class skit. She spoke clearly and with feeling and after the play, many came up to her and complimented her on her effort and care she took in preparing. Mom was as pleased as a peacock (and still am!). DD was also awarded a beautiful stuffed lion (since their theme was Africa) for being the most well behaved. She was also awarded a set of resin tigers that she's proudly displaying in her room. And they say homeschooled children are backwards and unsocialized! (grin)

Now - as for the townsfolk, I must say to those considering small, close-knit communities - DON'T think they are great and you really want to live there, because close knit places are very hard to get into, and really easy to fall out of. (Warning - this is a rant, so if you don't want to read negative thoughts - better to stop here....)

I grew up in this town - and in the same house we own now. Our children are 5th generation in this town. My grandmother delivered most of the parents of the kids I grew up with. We are relatives to more than one would think here, yet we are shunned. People I played with, spent my whole life with, and helped more times than one could count, don't speak to us. Why? Because we dared to homeschool and not go to the local church here. I grew up Catholic in a Methodist community, so that put a wedge between some folks and our family. Dad DARED to marry a Catholic and someone from another town, to boot! Well, that wasn't so bad, as most were tolerant of the fact that we didn't go to the church here. Then I left Catholicism, moved away, came back, got married, and the town people got air that I was non-denominational. I was asked to come to the church and become a member. I won't go into the belief issues, but I declined stating I was attending DH's group, but was grateful for the offer.

Ahhhh - in good standing again. We got gifts for the kids when they were born, and the kids had friends. They played with lots of kids their own age. Then came the day that I didn't send our first child on the bus. "What do you mean you're homeschooling?!!" "Why would you even consider doing that?!" "What's wrong with the school here?! It was good enough for you!" It didn't matter to them that I had a boy who was so hyperactive that he'd never survived in school without breaking his spirit or putting him on some kind of meds to calm him down. No one wanted to hear a logical reasoning at all. They wanted me to conform and not do something different. I was already different, and this really just sealed our fate.

I watched our son blossom, and then our daughter with our decision to homeschool. DD learned to read while watching and listening to me teach DS. At 4 she was picking up a book and having a go. Both are bookworms and they love studying and learning. Yes, for us, it was a good decision in that respect.

Sadly, it wasn't in the eyes of our whole town. I never, ever said a thing to hurt anyone, and never put anyone down for sending their children to school. Each family has their own reasons and needs, and who am I to inflict my beliefs on someone else? When someone needs anything, we make sure we are there to help - fires, floods, broken down cars - we've been there any time we knew about it, and always helping. They accept our held-out hands when there's a need, but won't speak to us after. It is something I've become used to, and didn't really pay attention to how bad it was, until the play last night.

We sat in a church pew waiting for the program - there was 3 of us together, so that left more than half the pew. The place was packed, yet our pew where we were sitting stayed open. Then I turned around, to find that people were standing, yet no one would sit with us. Finally a woman and her friend sat down making it known she really didn't want to sit near us, but didn't have a choice. How hurtful can people be? Not a soul, except for the pastor's husband, spoke to us. After we left - I asked DH if we may have come down with a disease of some sort that I didn't know about (chuckle). He just shook his head and said he really couldn't comprehend what went on. He grew up in a very large town - and folks were a lot different there. I know when I lived in a college town, people were so friendly next to here. There was much more tolerance to being an individual.

This attitude hurts - it really does. I haven't had a friend over for coffee since we made our decision to school the children ourselves. OOPS - that's not true, there was our neighbor that wanted me to watch her children all the time and get them off to school - which I did for many months. She kept saying she appreciated my time, but couldn't afford to pay anything because they were broke. Someone forgot to tell them they were next door and we could see all the new things they were buying :-) That was ok, because I was home and it wasn't much of a bother. Then I came down with pneumonia, and she still kept bringing the kids - not even worried that they might get sick. Finally, I said I really needed to stay in bed and couldn't take care of them for a bit, so would she mind finding someone while I recuperated. Once I felt better, I'd be happy to watch them again. Being right before Christmas, I really wanted to get better so I could enjoy our family gatherings - and it would only be about a week she'd need to find care. Maybe it was an unreasonable request - because she never spoke to me again. Merry Christmas to you!

As adults we suffer with this shunning, but I think the kids hurt more. They have no close friends here. They have lots of friends in other towns, but not here. It makes it difficult for them to just hang because of the distance, but they never complain.

I'm just so tired of it all. :-( And I'm sure you're tired of the rant. Thanks for listening - it's something that's been built up for a while, and last night just made it all come to a head.

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