Socialisation? It's difficult..
No, seriously, I love my children and I socialise with them all the time. We play, eat, live and work together at home, most days of the week. We are certainly, like most home educators, closer than your average family.
But when we go out to mingle with other people, you wouldn't necessarily get that impression. Especially if there's some child-oriented activity going on, the children are happy to leave me without a backwards glance and I'm happy to sit and relax and chat with other parents.
Sometimes at home ed meetings this approach of mine has drawn raised eyebrows, to say the least. The best kind of home educating parent is apparently involved with all of their children's activities, all the time. They deny themselves the luxury of indulging their own socialisation needs - or perhaps attend to those when their children are asleep, I don't know - and want to stay right by their children's side at social events.
I have actually been told off by another parent, in years gone by, for pulling up a chair to chat instead of assisting my [quite capable] child's group collaging attempts. Hmm. Maybe I'm just selfish and disruptive. I certainly don't mean to be - we were chatting very quietly, in a corner that was out of the way of everyone else, but apparently it Wasn't Good Enough. *Rolls eyes..*
And I do keep a watchful eye open. OK, maybe I don't see and hear everything, but aren't our children entitled to any privacy from us? As long as we know where they are and they seem happy, do we have to be there by their side absolutely all the time? I suppose I trust other people to let me know if any of my children are causing a problem that I didn't see, and they look out for each other to a large extent as well.
If I hovered more closely, I think it would irritate them. They'd feel sort of obliged to try to involve me in their games and it would certainly cramp their style. I've tried it sometimes and it doesn't feel right, for them or me. They just want to go off and play. Like me, they like to know roughly where I am and that I'm happy and enjoying myself with my peer group, then they feel free to do the same.
And seriously, home educating parents need to socialise too. Even feistily independent and self-contained ones like me. It feels so good to just sit down with like-minded people and have a right old chat. Most of the time we're at home on our own with our children, focusing on their every need. It wouldn't be healthy not to have a break from that from time to time. We need to be happy and refreshed to serve our children well, no? And to forge bonds and links with other parents in the same way as our offspring do with their children.
Some gatherings we've been to over the years have been very isolating events, consisting of little separate family groups each availing themselves of the activity on offer and very little communication from one family to another. But it's been a long time since we experienced this - we tend to give those kinds of events a wide berth nowadays. And actually our preference is to stay at home for most of our time. There's so much for us to do here, it's comfortable and convenient and we get quite a lot of visitors.
I do hope I haven't offended anyone here - except the bossy lady who told me off in Leeds about 7 years ago. If she's reading, I don't mind offending her ;-) But everyone else - well, I know some brilliant, exemplary parents and obviously we're all doing the very best we can. I absolutely don't want to criticise anyone else - just to speak out in defence of what I do, as usual. Sadly, it's difficult to do the latter without seeming to do the former.