Every homeschooler's nightmare
If there is one thing homeschoolers do, it is pass around links to stories which portray homeschooling in a negative light. Homeschooler wins the National Spelling Bee? Ah, we expected that. Homeschooler founds a ministry? We think, "Cool," and continue with our day. A homeschooler could win the Nobel Peace Prize, and we just might glance over it with an approving, but not overly excited eye.

Criticize homeschooling, however, and the internet is abuzz with the discussion. Letters will be written to the editor, entries will be written on blogs and links will be passed through countless forums. Whether it is a simple sleight, portraying too much of a stereotyped view of homeschooling, or actual criticism, it will gain our attention. And should a politician or government agency actually act against a homeschooler...well...let's just say we don't meet the story with a simple shrug of the shoulders. We investigate and we protest.

Don't get me wrong. These things are good and necessary for anyone who wishes to defend their rights, no matter what those rights are. Political awareness and political activity are great strengths of the homeschooling community. But such attention to negative stories does take its toll.

Take today.

I agreed some time ago to answer some questions for a study being conducted about the health of Nebraska children. I was expecting this phone call. But when the woman on the other end identified herself as someone from Health and Human Services (HHS), I froze momentarily. This is the department that the average homeschooler fears most, for we cannot seem to let go of the lingering thought that the state is lurking somewhere, waiting for a chance to pounce. As rare as such cases may be, we've read about every single one of them, making them seem more prevalent than they really are.

So an instant of panic seized me.

And I got on with answering the questions. For half an hour we talked about prenatal care, insurance and whether or not my husband beats me. About smoking, drinking and household income. I hadn't quite expected the survey to take this long or I might have made some arrangements to pacify the children. They are generally pretty good, but for some reason, mom being distracted by the telephone is a guarantor of inexplicable wailing, screaming and incessant demands for my instant and undivided attention.

This is not the sort of thing you want going on in the background while speaking with HHS.

But there were no such disruptions. There were constant normal child noises in the background: L. E. Fant cooing in my lap, the sound of the blocks being built up and knocked down, and 2yo Bug asking if she could talk on the phone, but nothing loud. Nothing alarming.

And you know what the lady from HHS said to the homeschooling mother of four? I'm amazing, patient and obviously work very well with my children. She couldn't believe how well-behaved they were.

I'm just glad she didn't call yesterday.