Monday, June 11, 2007

Feeling Defensive??

I brought my cats to the vet Friday. My kids were with me. As the vet examined Cosmo, he asked one of my kids if school was out for the year. My son said, "we're homeschooled." The vet looked in the cat's mouth, pressed on his belly, and then said, "so, tell me, what are you doing regarding social health?"

I think - social health? Do cats have social health? Do they need special classes? Is there something I'm supposed to be doing that I'm not? Are cats even social??

I scrambled around for an answer, nearly speechless for once and feeling like a parent who's forgotten to bring her kid in for important inoculations. Finally, I said, "Well, we're home with them all day."

The vet glanced up from the cat, nodded sagely and said, "Yes, well that's my point. Your kids are home with you all day. Do they have friends? What do you do to meet their social needs?"

My kids? This was about my kids? I thought he was examining my cats, but apparently not.

Maybe I should have been rude and told the guy it was none of his business, but I just don't have it in me. Besides, it always amuses me to see how quickly people change their mind about my homeschooling when they find out I was trained as a teacher and taught public school for several years. Immediately, I become more than a strange creature with odd ideas about child rearing and become knowledgeable and wise.

If only people knew the truth. :0)

Anyway, in case you're wondering, I took some time to explain exactly how my kids are 'socialized', including all their activities and their friends. I know I didn't need to, but somehow I always feel compelled. Let me prove that what I'm doing is okay. Let me show you that I'm not harming my kids in anyway.

I suppose it's natural to feel defensive when questioned about something personal and close to your heart. I find that I'm the same way about writing. It's very easy to jump to the defensive when someone questions what I've done in a book or a manuscript. Learning to be silent, to listen and to wait are the key to dealing with constructive and not so constructive criticism. By nature, being writers puts us in the spotlight and leaves us vulnerable. It's not easy to put heart and soul on the line. It is even harder to absorb and accept rather than defend when we feel we're being criticized. Unfortunately, it's part of the deal.

Every job has positives and negatives. Writing is no different. To be successful one must be willing to be vulnerable without getting defensive. Sometimes this means basking in the glow of well earned praise. Sometimes it means rising up from the rubble when your words have been knocked down, torn up and trampled into dust.

Like parenting, writing isn't for the faint of heart.

Of course nothing worth while is.


Sabrina L. Fox said...

I so get this post. I don't homeschool for a number of reasons, however, I have a friend that I respect so much and I think she's one of the best homeschooling mothers out there.

She really educated me in how homeschooling works. She has her kids in all kinds of activities to keep them "well rounded". Art, science, and physical education type projects. She also does field trips...I would love for my child to get the type of one on one commitment that her children do.

Ironically, we decided that Tanner would benefit from public school at least for a while just to give him some social stimulation. (we live in a very rural area and our public school system is very conservative and actually a great school system--see how I have to justify that. LOL) Anyway, he's an only child and for the first four or five years of his life we were pretty sure he was exhibiting signs of Asperger's. I don't know anymore, but he's still such a "quirky" kid and school is actually painful for him--I'm not sure what the future holds but I know that I'm open to whatever it takes to educate him.

All that to say that I applaud mothers who work really hard at homeschooling and I hate when people judge others based on their own misconceptions.

Shirlee McCoy said...

School is never easy for quirky kids. One of my sons is really quirky. I know he'd have problems with other kids in school. Fortunately, he's got a strong sense of self and has never cared much about what other people think.

School is a wonderful place for kids. I do think my kids miss out on all the fun parts of that adventure - playground friends, getting special awards and acknowledgement for their accomplishments, etc. All in all, though, I wouldn't change what we're doing.

Still, there's always that niggling doubt. Am I doing the right thing? I don't know. For now I think it's what God wants, so that's good enough.

Sabrina, I know this for sure - you're a great mother, so you'll know how best to help your son with his difficulties. In the end, I think the most important part of any child's development is knowing that his parents love and accept him for who he is. Since you're doing that so beautifully, the rest will fall into place.

I can't log in. Maybe I can leave this as anonymous. Much more mysterious that way, I think!

Shirlee McCoy said...

Oops, I guess I logged in after all. Shucks, now everyone knows it was me.

Sabrina L. Fox said...

Thanks, Shirlee. I appreciate your confidence. ;) I'm guessing you're a pretty great mom, too.

On another note, I think I'm going to get my rejection from SH this week. I finally emailed her just a quick note to make sure she got the manuscript since she had me email it to her. I was afraid I'd been waiting these months and the thing didn't even get to her. LOL. Anyway, I'm trying to brace myself for what I'm pretty sure is coming. It's my first one. Sniff, sniff. :-/ Okay, enough of that, back to work. LOL.

Shirlee McCoy said...

Why do you think it's going to be a rejection, Sabrina? My philosophy is the longer they have it, the better!

Sabrina L. Fox said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Shirlee McCoy said...

Hmmm, that is suspicious. She didn't say she liked it? Of course, getting back to you could be on hold while they work up the contract. Why would she wait to reject you? Why not just say, 'I read it. It's not quite what I'm looking for.'?

See, this may be a good thing.

Sabrina L. Fox said...

You're such a peach to be so encouraging. ;)

I just realized maybe I shouldn't have posted that comment in case I'm not supposed to mention the new freelance job. I'm going to delete it in case one of your editors reads your blog. ;)

Any progress on the adoption? Do you all have a child already in mind?

Teenauthor19 (Jolene) said...

My goodness Shirlee I just about fell off my chair laughing. I know the feeling. Of course, I'm the evil daughter, my mom tells all of her homeschooler friends about my antics when people ask if schools out. I've told them everything from my sisters( who were like 5 at the time) were suspended from school for carrying weapons to "OH my goodness! ITS NOT SATURDAY?!" and rushed out of wherever we are! :) Socialization? Socialization? Sure, they talk to us when they throw the food into the basement for us.. I am an evil child.

My mom is glad that I'm now in college and cannot pester store clerks and interested people in general. :)

Jolene*Marie said...

Woops..forgot to sign in...

Shirlee McCoy said...

Jo, I needed a laugh. You just gave me a good one!