Monday, August 24, 2009

But what about socialization?

The Not Back to School Pool Party -- an annual tradition among homeschoolers in Our Fair City.

As I may have hinted, I'm really not a big-group kind of person. In fact, large groups of people make me wonder if I suffer from sort of clinical anxiety, or if it's just shyness at play here. But anyway. This party is a once-a-year thing, it's practically around the corner from our house, and it reminds my kids that as homeschoolers, they not only have the privilege of swimming while "everyone else" is skipping or trudging back to the halls of learning, but also share that lifestyle with oodles of other families. And I get to catch up with a few mom friends I haven't seen in months, since the people I like best seem to live, mostly, at opposite ends of the city from me. In all four directions.

I watched my son gamely join a group that included a couple boys he used to play with once upon a time. After a few minutes, though, he made his way over to me and murmured that he didn't really think they were the best kids for him to hang out with, because they were digging up the paint on the bottom of the pool.

Then we spotted his best friend. Like a Patriot Missile headed for Baghdad, my guy was off, homing in on his quarry. I watched as he arrived under the tree and, arms and legs flying every which way, appeared to perform some sort of exotic ape-like greeting dance. Something a documentarian might film for inclusion in Planet Earth.

The friend, of course, saw nothing unusual about this exultant form of self-expression (apparently, neither did any kids around them, which reminded me to chuck my dreams of Trapper Keepers and be thankful that there's really no "cool crowd" or "loser kids" in the world of homeschoolers). Within minutes, they had hatched plans for themselves and a mutual friend to spend the afternoon at T's house, where they whiled away the hours by sword-fighting and playing a video game.

There may be some of you who, now or in your reproductive future, have a boy who stars on the soccer team, wears polo shirts without complaint, buckles down to his studies, and fist-bumps his pals as a maximum show of emotion. And that is fine. But in case you don't? In case you bear a child who strays from the central lane of what's commonly considered normal or socially acceptable by the mainstream, who might be called an Intense Child or a Quirky Kid? Who just needs extra time to be a BOY?

Just pray for him to find a friend. More than one is lovely, but even just one likeminded soul, one kid who couldn't care less about Cool or Uncool, one who thinks nothing of saying exactly what comes to mind, one who finds warts to be beauty marks ... that's golden.

Oh, and then make friends with that child's mom. Chances are, she's been eating humble pie for years and will be quite happy to pass the whipped cream.


Eclectic Mama said...

I saw the gorilla-inspired show of colors when our boys met up. Amazing how that didn't raise an eyebrow with the kids around them. I love homeschooling! (Although the group of boys digging up paint on the bottom of the pool isn't too lovable.) Sigh.

BTW, I buy whipped cream in the 55-gallon drum. Like some?

Tim said...

Yes, hooray for quirky kids and for T and his eclectic mama. What would we do without?

Julie said...

Just got back to reading yours and Vanessa's blogs...such enjoyable reading for the heart,soul,and spirit! (Love the verse too!) I wish we had a home school group like that!

Vanessa said...

I wonder sometimes if my intense, quirky child will need some things that aren't mainstream. The Lord knows exactly what I need, right?

Jennifer said...

Oh, my, that was our first Austin homeschooling experience - a big swim at the big pool, with a big crowd and three very timid new-bies. Thank goodness for Valerie showing up, or we might have given up... and now I can truly say how much I miss the Austin HS community that we found, small though it was (perfect size for me!)