As was said in our social network recently, you’re a pretty high-profile, confident person in your community! Plus you’ve been homeschooling a long time. So those circumstances are rather unique.
Well, NOW I am, but when I pulled our son Scott out of school in 1994 I wasn’t the person you know me now! I hadn’t lived in California all that long. I really knew nothing much about homeschooling. I had found a copy of Home Education Magazine in an alternative bookstore, and they had a copy of a Colfax book, Homeschooling for Excellence, so I had bought it, too. Eventually, I found Homefront Hall on AOL, but Lorihon would chase us out after the moderated chat back then. I didn’t type nearly as fast as I do now, so it was hard to get questions out in chats. (AOL = a great way to learn to type!)
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I had just been ‘downsized’ at Apple Corp., so wasn’t feeling confident at all. (Sounds impressive, but my job wasn’t. I wrote manuals at the Apple TV Production Studio in 1993 on how to do video conferencing, something new at the time, and not easy to accomplish. I taught John Scully how to double click on his file icon to bring up his “slide show” I had transferred to digital format. He went, “Oh, Wow!”) I was feeling cut off, broke and disheartened. My husband had taken a job up in Tahoe (Zephr Cove-Round Hill Village area) to invent an optical computer, but the company looked too unstable to move up there, so I was down in the Bay Area alone, trying to hold things together with a husband that would appear on Friday nights without a clue what I’d been going through all week. Homeschooling seemed a good way to ensure we had our weekends free to go up to Tahoe if he couldn’t come down. (Again, sounds glamorous, but he had a spare bedroom in someone’s house. We three had to cram in there when Scott and I’d visit. There was never enough money to go see the casino shows.)
In other words, I was probably more ditzy than most when we started. So many families spend months thinking about homeschooling, planning for it. Me, I just went to the school district after calling and finding out they had a homeschool program through the district. Took me a year to find out I could go through the tutoring option or the private school option.
What I’m good at is building online communities and making lists and such. Been doing THAT for ages. I joined AOL in December 1989. People keep thinking I KNOW everything I link to on my site. I don’t! I’d link to them because I DID NOT know something, liked what I read on the links, and thought I’d bookmark them for others sharing the same questions or interests. It’s like writing research papers: you read enough, take some notes, and then you write up about something, and express your opinion about it. Unless it is a personal story, the essays are researched shortly before they get posted.
Once someone once asked, “What do I do with all these bookmarks?” I jokingly said, “Put them on a website!” In another life, I probably was a librarian.
But when I first got online, I had so little confidence I wouldn’t post or get on email lists or go into chats. What did I have to say to a bunch of strangers? Soon I learned that I could put on a confident demeanor in such forums and even be funny! People thought I was funny! People in real life didn’t find me “funny” back in those days. I got into the role playing. It was great fun! Impromptu plays of a sort. All depended on the personalities that would show up. Lines would invoke responses, and you’d play along with whatever role was available. I found myself adopting traits I wish I really had: to be confident, funny, and even sexy, in a light-hearted, bawdy way. The odd part of this tale is that by behaving in the way I subconsciously wanted to be, I eventually became that person in real life! Almost. But not right away. Took time. And I’m still trying online to create the confident person I’m still trying to be. Don’t know if I’m making sense. I’m not saying I’m being dishonest, only that my writing is more confident about what I say than I am! But you all also play a role in that: you want to believe! You want your kids to raise goats and go to Harvard or Yale. Well, maybe not raise goats.
You recall that event I posted about last Friday. I went to the morning sessions at a conference. They were talking a lot about role playing games. Some of which sounded downright psychologically dangerous, but others seemed quite fun. Sort of like going to a mystery dinner, but instead the “play” would go on forever between online and real life. The appeal of play acting mixed with real life can be a great distraction from worries and concerns, and so appeals to many. Think of those you know who enjoy SCA or historic reenactments. Some can do a grand job of getting you to believe they are a medieval lady or a Civil War soldier, they’ve studied the roles so well. And then they go back to being every day Jane when the makeup comes off. Marge, and others with homeschooling experience, we all do this: exude more confidence online than we feel every hour of every day. We all made the decision to homeschool, to decide that THIS side of the fence has the greener grass. When any of us do this about ANYTHING, we feel we need to justify our decision. If we chose a Ford over a Chevy, we defend Ford. This is human nature. We like to exude confidence in our decision, even if we ever have misgivings, little niggling misgivings about “what if I’d made another choice!?”
I also chose to have some profiles in my community offline. And sometimes the profiles chose me. I didn’t know when we moved in here our neighbors would be so into politics. They didn’t have signs posted outside our look-alike tract homes when we moved in saying “future mayor” or “future city council member.” We were all just young, with babies and little kids, and we wanted some things to be improved. It all starts out innocently enough. You mature and start to affect changes. You’ll get there!