Home Education Magazine
March-April 2004 - Articles and Columns
Viva La Nerds! - Teri Brown
We have become nerds
My husband and I used to pride ourselves on how cool we were. Both of us grew up as nerds, so as soon as we got together and had money, we went on a cool quest. We skied in the winter. (He skied. I went down a couple times then sat in the lodge with a hot drink...by far the best part of skiing.) We bought a cool truck and cruised around in it with heavy metal cranked. He played the electric guitar in a rock band, had long hair with spikes and I had a big-hair perm. We were cool. Of course, then we had kids and coolness came to an end. There was a brief sentimental flare up of cool in 1992 when I lost all the baby weight and fit into a white cotton mini dress for a Def Leppard concert. But that was short-lived and it was back to the diaper pail.
Not being cool kids, we wanted our children to be cool. Of course, we also wanted them to be unique individuals who would be allowed to learn in freedom, so we homeschooled them. We figured they could still be cool, right? We bought them cool clothes - within our budget. We took them to cool places and did cool things. Or so we thought.
Well, according to their 13-year-old female cousin, they are totally uncool. Nerds even. Of course, this is coming from a girl whose highest ambition, in spite of being raised on her grandmother's farm, going to a tiny school and living in a rural town of 900 people, is to be a rapper b#&*%h. (Her word, not mine.) So I think her opinions are rather suspect.
So the children and I decided to make a cool/uncool family list. We would list the cool things about us on one side and the uncool things on the other side. We decided the uncool side would list things that most of the junior-high-age kids would deem as uncool. We wanted to see if we were cool in the worldly way of being cool~not homeschool cool.
First, we go to church every Sunday and we admit that in today's world that is fairly uncool. Both kids are actively involved in youth group~also uncool. That's two on the uncool side. We volunteer at the library because we love it there so much. Uncool. Megan does ice skate on a competitive level which even her cousin admits is pretty cool~especially when she brings her friends to the rink to show her off. One for the cool side. But Ethan goes to coin club once a month with his grandpa. Kiss-of-death uncool. Meggy volunteers every other week with her grandmother at a no-kill cat shelter. Five on the uncool side, one on the cool side. Ethan is on our city's youth council and belongs to the Riverkeepers Organization; we do volunteer work there too. Granola-type and civic-duty uncool. Meggy works out with her mother at an old-ladies, gym. Super uncool, though if you just say, 'We are going to the gym to work out,' it could be considered cool if you don't mention the geriatric set. We argued about that one for a bit and felt it was only fair to list it on both sides. She is also a big sister to our five-year-old neighbor girl who has no siblings and spends a lot of time playing with her. Not cool. Twelve-year-old Meggy is only allowed to wear pale rose eye shadow, lightly applied mascara, lip gloss and a bit of blush (She is a pale blond and I have to let her add some color!), but no lip liner or eyeliner. Cosmetically uncool.
By the time we finished the list we were rolling on the floor laughing. We are nerds! An entire family of nerds! Double deluxe nerds! You might even say we put the "erd" in "nerd"!
After we finished laughing, the children decided they liked what they did even if it made them nerds. I decided I was ever so grateful for my children in spite of their nerdish behavior.
But frankly, I don't think my two homeschooled, junior-high-aged kids are that unusual. I propose that homeschoolers are raising an entire generation of nerds! Look around your homeschool community and you'll see I'm right. We know one young man so interested in politics he could spout off the issues of presidential races from fifty years ago. One young girl we know spends hours every day playing chess. Chess for crying out loud! Other homeschoolers we know live for Toastmasters, science club, debate club or even attend academic lectures. Some spend their weekends pretending to be Civil War soldiers or knights in shining armor. Nerds, all of them!
Shame on us for raising such a large bunch of uncool kids. Whatever will our society do with children of such diverse interests, volunteer ethics and opinions? Even their future occupational dreams have nerdish qualities. For instance, my son's life ambition is to be a fresh water biologist - live in Alaska for a while to catch big salmon, then come back, work in a hatchery and set up a program to teach underprivileged kids to fish. Might as well wear a pocket protector! My daughter wants to be a famous ice skater and if that doesn't happen, she wants to be a coach and help other kids learn to do what she is so passionate about. Passion, outside the illicit kind, is way uncool. Oh well, it could be worse. She could want to grow up to be a rapper b*&%h!
© 2004 Teri Brown
March-April 2004 - Articles and Columns
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