Sharkboy and Little S are only 2 and 3 years old but I think about my school options often, especially this time of year. Public school, Catholic School, Montessori school, home school, there are so many choices and it is all so overwhelming. I keep coming back to the idea of homeschooling and wondering if it’s something I really want to do. I have the usual hang ups: Am I qualified? How will we afford to eat? Will it make my kids weird?
That last question always brings me back to a family I used to work with when I taught preschool. They seemed like a pretty normal family at first but as Mom became more comfortable with me she started to ask a lot of questions about her son’s behavior and the general idea was always, “is he normal?” This is actually a fairly typical concern and a question I hear often. She began to ask it so frequently and fervently that it stopped being normal.
Her family, her friends, the internet, they all had her convinced she had to do things one certain way or her kid would be weird. The problem is everyone has a different opinion about what that one certain way is. It’s enough to drive a concerned mom bonkers.
“If you adhere to a strict schedule your kids won’t have any flexibility.”
“If you throw out the schedule they will have no structure.”
“If you force them to eat healthy foods they will have eating issues.”
“If you never make them try things they’ll be picky.”
“If you co-sleep they will never sleep alone.”
It’s giving me a stress headache just coming up with examples. So, I’m going to put your mind at ease. Yes, your kid is weird.
Think about your friends growing up. Think about their families. How many of them did you think were kind of weird? Be honest with yourself. I only had brothers growing up, and a handful of them, so I was outnumbered by boys. My best friend had an older sister and their house was always amazing (but weird) to me. Clothes piling out of the closet, tampon boxes in plain sight, curling irons everywhere. And so much make up.
Wait… that sounds like my house now. That’s not weird.
I had another friend with a single mom (which was really weird at the time) and their cupboard was filled with generic brand groceries. I have no idea when generic brands became more readily available but at the time they were fairly new to me and a lot of my friends, so we thought that was super weird.
That also sounds a little like my house now, though.
I’m sure I can think of someone really weird. Like the family with the 4 (!!!) kids all close in age that ran around on rooftops and played in the creek and had a poker table in their downstairs that alternated between a very elaborate Hot Wheels Land and a Dungeons and Dragons table.
That was my house then. And I’m certain a lot of people thought we were weird.
Looking back at the families I have worked with in childcare I could tell you something “weird” about every single one of them, making weird an obsolete term in this context. If we’re all weird then that makes us normal.
In an online discussion about schooling options a complete stranger asked me, “but aren’t you worried they’ll be weird?” Just like that *poof* one less concern. We’re all a little weird. I can’t go through their life trying to protect them from that or from the people who will notice, in fact, I’d do well to remind them at every chance.