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Thursday, January 16, 2014

How to recognize a homeschool mom.

No, it's not by the denim jumper with seasonal embroidery we wear.  But thanks for categorizing all of us in the Michelle Duggar school of apparel.  Sometimes, yes, we have a wonderful woman among our ranks that chooses comfort and ease of wear'll just move on.

There are a myriad of traits that by themselves can be attributed to almost any woman, but when put all together scream "Homeschool Mom!"  

I'll try to distinguish some for you so you don't make the mistake of saying something ignorant to us like "shouldn't your children be in school?" or "Why so much wine?  Are you throwing a party?"  You can find us in quite a few public locations during the day, but since we spend most of our outside time on field trips or in grocery stores, I'm going to use the latter here.  

1.  The mob of children tagging along with us at 11 am in the grocery store.  This one might seem obvious to some of you, but for some reason, I still get the head tilt and "how old are your kids?" while in the checkout line.  "No, sir, that's not a 5 foot tall four year old.  She's in the 6th grade."  And this is what you might refer to as grocery shopping, but we call; math, home economics, logistics and early childhood development class.   I assure you the school board knows and is happy to have me do it.  They get tax dollars and I get...quality time.  

2.  The hair.  Depending on where we stand in the cut-your-hair-out-of-frustration cycle, we are either sporting a cute bob or a greasy ponytail.  Sure, it's not always greasy, but it's not always co-op day.  

3.  The sweats and tee shirt.  They can also be yoga pants, but not all of us are brave enough to leave the house in something that hugs our natural, child-bearing curves that closely.  The t-shirt is almost always solid color with a smudge of baby snot or science experiment gone wrong.  On very rare occasion we will give ourselves away with a nerdy homeschool shirt, but that brings on too many conversations beginning with, "my cousin homeschools her kids, they aren't normal" or "I don't have the patience for that."  Maybe even the always adored, "aren't you worried about socialization?"  So the laundry situation has to be dire for us to dip into those for public wear.  Some homeschool moms wear mom jeans, but we love them anyway. 

4.  As alluded to earlier, the wine in our cart.  Some homeschool moms do it dry.  Kudos to them.  Some prefer the kool-aid of wine and drink white zinfandel or moscato.  I prefer to keep it real with a good cabernet while making dinner and trying to reconcile the fact that I spent more time keeping a 3 year old alive today than practicing times tables and correcting grammar.  And if an acceptable vintage is on sale, well, then my cart looks like I'm about to have three dozen women at my house to discuss the latest self-help book.  Shameful.

5. The coupons.  Sure, lots of moms coupon, but homeschool moms make a curriculum of it.  The kindergarteners are given a pair of scissors and the low-dollar coupons and told to follow the dotted lines.  Hand-eye-coordination.  2nd graders are given the coupons to file.  Reading and sorting.  Anyone over the age of 10 is in charge of holding the list.  BAM.  We have skills that reduce the bills.  Of course, not all of us coupon.  Some of us view couponing as a living nightmare.  I would personally rather keep my grocery bill low by buying 200 lbs of flour at a time and making pretty much everything from scratch.  No matter how we do it, though, we have to work within a grocery budget that was blown because we heard about this new math program that was going to keep us from banging our head into the wall when it took our 4th grader 3 hours to do one problem.  It didn't work, of course, but we still have to find a way to pay for it.  

6. The students.  There are as many different homeschool kids as there are homeschool moms.  Actually, there are way more.  Statistically speaking, you can be assured that 25% are wearing something society would consider "strange."  A costume, a hat, full body armor.  You name it.  At least 25% will also be carrying a notebook and pencil or a reading book.  Just under half will talk to anyone near them.  Probably about turtle habitats or a piece of classic literature.  And 100% will be relieved they aren't learning Latin. 

7. Spontaneous lectures.  Simple questions like "Mommy, what's the difference between a banana and a plantain?" turn into 15 minute lessons on carbohydrates, cultures and the evils of GMO's. And while mom is googling answers on her iPhone, the ice cream is melting and the produce manager is shooting sideways glares because no one can get to the counter and all the kids are yelling about Publix trying to give them cancer through poison food. 

7. The crazed look in our eye.  We spend hours upon hours alone with our own children.  So, admittedly, there are days when we stand in line gazing longingly out of the store contemplating making a run for it. We never do.  At least, I've never heard one of those stories in homeschool circles about that mom.  It never lasts long, because if the children have timed it right, we are snapped back into reality by the phrase, "mommy, I have to pee."

So there you have it.  Seven ways to know if you run across a homeschool mom in our favorite place to take hungry children.  Because they are always hungry.  Unless it's meal time.

Just for clarification, this post is satire.  I don't know why I feel the need to specify this, but I do.  And if you haven't figured it out, my statistics have no actual, verifiable backing.  I made them up.  Which, I think, qualifies me to host a talk show or hold public office. I think I'll just keep homeschooling for now, though.  

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