One afternoon, the kids and I were outside playing. A vehicle I didn’t recognize pulled up our driveway. Now, we live in the middle of NOWHERE, up a dirt road, on a hill, near no major cities. We don’t generally have unexpected visitors, and my mind was racing as I tried to figure out who this young man in his mid-twenties in the nice sporty vehicle could be. Really all that came to mind was negatives- did someone who doesn’t understand my non-vaccinating, home-birthing, doing-homeschool-in-our-yard-half-the-time oddball ways call CPS on me? Was it some sort of legal trouble, or did somebody die? I was prepared for the worst.
Amazingly, it was a travelling sales rep for an educational company- first sales rep to ever come out to my country bumpkin place- what dedication! He seemed confident he had a sure sale on his hands when he found out I homeschooled.
He explained how he sold textbooks designed to supplement all lessons taught between K-12th grade, along with a website with videos and live chats to help kids with homework and cover all the topics they’d encounter in their school years. I’d have professional assitance at my fingertips for any tricky homeschooling subject matter, right?
At this point, I was giddy with relief that this visit was not a negative thing, and I quickly explained “I’m sorry, we don’t use textbooks, I cover material with stories and art and my children create their own textbooks. It’s called the Waldorf Method,” I said, with that apologetic no-I’m-not-buying-what-you’re-selling-but-I-hate-to-disappoint-you tone.
“So you don’t use any textbooks at all? he asked with surprise.
“Well, how do you teach math? he asked, perplexed.
“Oh,” I blurted out matter-of-factly, “we use gnomes.”
His expression was priceless. All of a sudden I realized how odd an answer that must seem to someone unfamiliar with our quirky Waldorf ways, where to us mamas the only major question regarding math is “should I use gnomes or should I use squirrels?” And as my face began to redden under his incredulous stare, my four year old (not even in kindergarten yet, and equating school with sitting in a building staring at books) emphasized how derelict a teacher I must have seemed, by yelling at him, “We hate school!”
He stammered something about being sorry for wasting our time, got back into his car, and drove away… I’m sure the gnomes were laughing. 😉