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.