"Please accept my resignation. I don't care to belong to any club that will accept me as a member."
Groucho Marx, The Groucho Letters (1967)
"Include me out."
Earlier this week, I discovered I'd been nominated for a blogging award, but being the crabby type and a Marxist (Groucho, not Karl) as well as a Goldwyn Girl, I wrote to the organizers as soon as possible to ask that my nomination be withdrawn. I never heard back from anyone, and voting ended the other day, with Farm School mercifully at the bottom of the pile. Since a few oblique words about the award made it into some of the recent comments here, I thought by way of explanation I'd post the gist of the letter, edited and amended, that I sent as soon as possible:
While I'm very, very pleased that someone likes my blog well enough to nominate it for an award and that a few others would even vote for it, and while I understand the spirit in which the category, SUPER-HOMESCHOOLER (yes, all caps like that) and its description are meant and am accordingly touched and flattered, I'm also exceedingly uncomfortable with both the category and its description. Which is as follows:
"Ever feel like a looser [sic] after reading someone else’s lesson plans, seeing their field trip photos, listening to them talk about what they got done today, or seeing pictures of their children’s accomplishments? You were probably feeling the effects of visiting a SUPER-HOMESCHOOLER’s blog. These are the A-list homeschool parents that just BLOW YOU AWAY with their enthusiasm. We all have our good days, but this blogger has us all beat."
First, while I realize the description isn't supposed to be literal -- the only lesson plans I've ever posted are those by other homeschooling parents, I haven't posted any field trip photos (and only recently, in fact, figured out how to use my digital camera), I post long lists of what I've done only when I'm making excuses about why I haven't blogged lately, and certainly can't take full credit for all of my kids' accomplishments -- I'd hate to think that anything I've ever written on the blog or elsewhere would make anyone feel like a loser, loosely or otherwise. And if I have, I certainly don't want an award for it. I don't like the idea of comparing, especially another homeschooling mother comparing herself to me, when all of our families, our children, our circumstances, are so different. And while I didn't start my blog to be an encouragement to others -- my family comes first -- I didn't start it to show others up, either; first, I wanted to see if I could master the technology, and then I thought it could be a place where I could record some of the things the kids and I have done, and note possible things we could do, read, watch, and listen to in the future. Along the way, it became a place where I could share interesting bits of information, such as new book titles, resources, and the occasional news article, and a place to put thoughts and opinions that just come spouting out because there's really no other place to put them.
Plus, I'm just not a Super Homeschooler, or even, like Mary Poppins, Practically Perfect. I don't have X-ray (let alone 20-20) vision, I could be much more diligent with the kids about certain schoolwork subjects (most of the time, I tend to let life on a farm and in the country, with field guides galore, substitute for the dandy, formal science curriculum that watches us from the shelf), I'm not as consistent with the kids as I'd like to be (as I should be), the kids probably watch too many movies, my house could be cleaner, my backside could be smaller (speaking of supersizing), I'm woefully behind in The Great Conversation about The Great Books, and, to top it off, I haven't blogged much lately since real life has been so busy. And sometimes the things that I do do well have a habit of backfiring on me, which is why I still have a nine-and-a-half year old who believes mightily in Santa Claus, the Tooth Fairy, and the Easter Bunny. If I had to describe the kids and me, I'd call us all "bright and motivated" rather than "gifted and talented", which I think puts us squarely, and fairly, in the non-Super category.
There's a reason Farm School wasn't nominated in the Nitty Gritty category, because I don't do Nitty Gritty. Both by nature and by nurture, I'm predisposed toward keeping it in rather than letting it all hang out, in part because I'm never sure just who is out there reading this and because I'm not as comfortable sharing our private thoughts and deeds as other bloggers are. I'm purposefully very careful, selective, and stingy about what I choose write on my blog and it's certainly not a comprehensive record of our days and our homeschooling, not like some other dizzyingly dazzling home educating bloggers (you know you who you are, and you know who I think you are, too), including single working parents, each of whom makes me look like a piker by comparison.
If I overwhelm any readers with my enthusiasm, it's probably because I prefer to write about our high points, which just seem more interesting to write about. Which automatically means the low points don't get much coverage, so my blog really isn't a fair way to assess our family's homeschooling or our life. And to think of using it as a measure for anyone else's homeschooling is just crazy-making. As I write in every so often to a couple of online homeschooling groups, my idea of following any method is to take what works fand leave the rest behind, far far far behind, without qualms or guilt or comparisons. Don't make yourself and your kids crazy trying to do everything in The Book or The Program, The Guide or The Website, and certainly not on Another Woman's Blog.
All of which is a very long way around of saying thanks so very, very much for the honor, but I'd be much more comfortable as an observer than as a nominee. Anyway, that's what makes horse races.