I received an email this week, and because I am kind - honestly, I am! You don't have to bribe me with a bottle of Hendrick's or anything! (although clearly it helps) - I thought I would respond.
Well here goes. Yes, it's something home educators are not usually allowed to talk much about.
We know that if we confess in public anything like being lonely, it can be used against us in all manner of unhelpful ways, supporting dangerous judgements how our cursed misery is the result of our self-inflicted social isolation, our exclusion, the imposition on our children of this cruel, inhuman life, missing out all their normal friendships and all normal relationships. The type of life that sees a child locked up in the house for hours and hours and hours, to wither in strange solitude with only an unhinged mother and the sneering cat for company.
Talk one more step in that direction, and with the political wind blowing in the wrong direction and at a brutal strength, it'll be compulsory social training for the lot of us home educating Norma No-mates. The mothers will be whipped into shape via an Oliver James article about how clinically wrong in the head we all are, and the children will be sent for compulsory companionship down at the local comp.
Better let us say nothing about that curse of loneliness, and stress instead how fantastically busy we all are with our home educating social calenders!
But of course these states of loneliness, friendship, companionship, sociability, clubbiness, they aren't all unavoidable destinies that come with your chosen way of life.
Home educating does not necessarily result in loneliness, as school does not necessarily result in sociability. How many school children complain they have no special
friends, no group that lets them in, or that they spend everyday
avoiding Jessie and her gang?
In truth, it matters not a jot what you do, whether you home educate or not, nor whether your child attends school, flexischool, or whether they reluctantly attend the miserable anarchist home ed co-op knitting group that meets once a month in the scout hut. Everyone, all of us, feels lonely at points in life, because it's human.
We all feel it, and you do too, unless you are a lizard in human form. I bet you feel it most keenly between one state and another, say when you change route drastically, jump from the frying pan of school into the fiery pit of home ed, and suddenly lose those familiar routines and social networks, but are yet to build new ones. Or when your happy-to-be-home-ed 11-year old suddenly grows up to announce they don't want to play stupid baby games with the 9-year olds anymore! They want to chill with kids their own age and type. When you look around and realise there aren't any 11-year old girls called Tinkertop who like drawing wombats left in your area. They all moved back to school last September. Except one, and you had a blow up with her mother about a plant pot.
Look at it this way. Loneliness is part and parcel, comes and goes, feels keenly there and is far away. I know that, because last time I looked, I had no zip to let the lizard out. But it's a human thing, so it comes with a human reaction. Whether it's me, or my kids, who say I want friends to play with, we check out the lists for social meet ups, make an excuse for coffee, tag along somewhere, invite someone over. We'll make an excuse, create an event, find a group, send a pleading email, make a new connection, attend a meet up, offer a date, make a suggestion, and say yes, let's do that. I recommend all those approaches.
But of course this is grit's day. I accept things don't always go to plan, and sometimes my advice ain't worth the keyboard I typed it on (the letter r is dodgy).
Maybe you can feel better when I tell you that this weekend we didn't visit the space centre, we didn't go to see the battle at Hastings, we missed the talk at the art gallery, we never saw the play, I never sent the email, and I lost the number of the geocaching group.
We all stayed at home stirring the miserable stew that is our own family. Dig collapsed in a travel fugged heap. I grew bored facing the laundry. The little grits acted like kittens locked up, left in a house all day long. They intermittently stalked and cuffed each other, fought, snarled, sloped off to sulk in a chair. Minutes ticked by before they'd come again, batted each other with paws, hit each other with cushions, claws, feet, and finally wreaked vengeance with a plastic frog. Then one squealed, another went off in an arched huff, and a third howled with the frustration, boredom and loneliness of a ruined day.
I console myself. Next week I have several appointments for us all, and they are sure to be social.