Monday, October 18, 2010

Explaining myself in another language

Taking my kids out in the middle of the day is always tricky, because it raises questions in peoples' minds, "Why aren't those children in school?" (to which, in my mind I think, "They are. Currently they are learning about grocery shopping.") At least in the States, if you tell them you are homeschooling, they understand. Well, they intellectually understand what you mean. They probably don't understand why, and that's ok.

But here, where homeschooling is extremely rare, it requires a bit more explanation. Here's the conversation that went down at the carpet store last week:

Women in the store: Why aren't your kids in school?

Me: I teach them at home.

Women in the store: (Silence. Blinking eyes. Crickets chirping. Questions forming). You teach them yourself?? But . . . do your children obey you?

Me: What kind of mother would I be if my kids didn't obey me?

Women in the store: (Chuckles, nodding). But, they listen to you as their teacher? Isn't that hard?

Me: If children listen to their teachers, they should listen to their parents too.

This seemed to be a new concept for them to absorb, and an opportunity for me to realize again that educational philosophy isn't really in my Chinese vocabulary (I was already made aware of that when my chiropractor asked me about testing the kids. I couldn't begin to explain why I think testing is fairly useless).

It makes me think that having these conversations in America would be SO much easier.