Socialization? You’re kidding, right?!?
I don’t know why it is – but everywhere I go I hear from other people “You shouldn’t homeschool your kids – they need socialization.” I guess people don’t really have any better argument, but really – did you go to school? I mean, what type of socialization are you wanting them to have? They will either be 1. a bully – pushing around those who they consider are “less than them” or 2. the bullied – picked on for no good reason except that they are different. Now, add the fact that your child is a Muslim and B A N G – you’ve just added more reason for the bully. I don’t know – I really DO NOT have any happy memories from my school life. I wouldn’t be caught dead at any type of reunion. I was a shy child going in to school – and was left an even shier child after the experience. Alhumdulilah, when I got older I was able to gain the confidence I needed and shed my shyness. I had bad experiences with both teachers and other students. Nope, you’re not going to sell “school” to me!
First of all, I guess I should set up the scenario. My children absolutely can not allow another Muslim in their midst to pass by without giving Salaams. I mean – if there is another Muslim in the store – no matter how far away from us – my children have to rush over to them and give the greeting – pulling Mom alongside them. No, it doesn’t mean that I don’t like to give Salaams – geez – where do you think they got the idea from? They’ve been told for the longest time that it is important to give Salaams to another Muslim and how many Muslims today have left the practice only to those they know. The problem is – I’m busy trying to get our shopping done and rush home to do other things. Imagine this: if we are in Costco (for example) or some other humongous store and my children spot a woman with hijab on the other side of the store – my children are yelling “Mom, we saw a Muslim – we saw a Muslim.” I’ll say something like “Okay, when they come closer we’ll say Salaam.” However, that’s not acceptable. My oldest says, “No, we saw a Muslim. We saw a Muslim and we MUST give the greeting!” All the while, she is dragging us all over to greet the sister.
Alhumdulilah – this is not a complaint in the least. It’s fun because I get to meet people – and really speak with them (not just Salaams) – that I wouldn’t normally – and, of course, we get rewarded for giving the greetings. My daughters also try to pull this while driving the car – either seeing another Muslim drive by or seeing another Muslim walking on the sidewalk. Once, when a Muslim sister was walking (in the opposite direction, I might add) my kids wanted me to turn around the car so we could stop and give her the greeting, masha’Allah!
I might add that this behavior is not just exclusive to Muslims. My children also say “hello” and then some with practically everyone we meet (in stores, doctor’s offices, office buildings, etc.). Even when we meet someone who obviously has no manners – the kids just keep going on – trying to find someone else to say hello to. Yes, I know this is worrying – and we have talked about strangers. Alhumdulilah, my children are always with me and are not allowed to wander off on their own. However, the downside to all this cheeriness is – do you know how long it takes me to get out of a store?!? I will actually get phone calls from my husband “where are you? You said you were almost finished shopping!” I hate going to Wal-Mart but had to break down and go a month or so ago. Nowadays – with three kids I hate going anyplace huge! We were shopping when we met another Muslim who works in the Domestics department. She was a lovely lady, masha’Allah – but we heard her life story and then some! Then, when I was able to finally escape, we went to the children’s department. There, we met a nice Indian lady who wondered if I was “Pakistani” because of my hijab. She ended up showing me everything on clearance (there were several racks) and telling me what I should get for the girls because of the low prices (like trying to help a friend she had known for a long time!) After going through the clearance stuff, she then followed me around down each aisle in the department. I finally escaped when someone asked her for help. I ran out of there fast and rushed to the checkout. I think my quick in and out to Wal-Mart lasted several hours – to say the least! I’m now afraid to go in there!
This whole story actually does have a purpose. Keep in mind – I have all these wondrous experiences of my children in my mind and then . . . A month or so ago we met a Muslim who was visiting from overseas in Costco. My children dragged her down to give Salaams and then every time we saw each other they would show her their sparkling eyes and sweet smiles and say Salaam again and again. We met again at the entrance and ended up having a long conversation. Yep, this was also a quick trip to Costco to pick up two things! Everything was going well and then the discussion turned to school. I mentioned I was homeschooling and she started going on about the “importance of socialization.” I turned to her and smiled. Then I said “Okay, why would I be worried about socialization? We have just spent a half hour in the front of the store talking with you and we don’t even know you. My children are the ones who rushed over here like a freight train to say Salaam to you.” Mind you, given in that context – the sister had to agree. However, she still believes children need to be socialized “in school.” Can I just say that just this weekend we went to the store – my daughters were sitting by me waiting for Dad when a Muslim walks by. I already said “Salaam” but my daughter wasn’t paying attention. She only saw the family after they passed by. She jumps up and runs in circles trying to reach them and almost pokes her eye out running into another person’s cart. When I tell her to be careful, she says “but I saw another Muslim. I am a Muslim and I must give them the greeting!” Masha’Allah – that’s all I can say about that.
Did I ever tell you that people actually only put up with me because of my children? Everywhere we go people are always wanting to visit with us because of the girls – in my doctor’s office, dentist’s office, stores we visit frequently, etc. Even at the nursing home where my friend stays – they adore the girls and always stop in to visit with us although I can sense that they don’t care for me too much (you know, strange woman with the head cover and all)! We actually get calls from friends saying that they need to visit us because they haven’t seen the girls in a while! A year ago we had an appointment with the girls’ doctor – my oldest went with the nurse to get her eyes checked while my youngest was getting weighed. The nurse came back and said “My goodness!” I didn’t know what to expect, but she said “Your little girl is amazing. She can hold a conversation like a twenty year old!” Mind you, they also get along great with their friends. They have come to learn to share and play together nicely. They even have learned to apologize when the make mistakes and now do what my daughter calls “fixing it.” Essentially, she is trying to adjust the balance of her scale of good deeds by making right what mistakes she makes. So, if she hurts her sister’s feelings, she does something special for her to make up for her mistakes.
Okay . . . I think I’ve made my point. So, what exactly are my children missing out on? As much as I’d love to do the research for you, all I can say is do an internet search, watch the news or read the newspaper on a daily basis. From problems of teachers having inappropriate relationships with students, molestation, weapons brought into school, doing drugs in school, bullying, etc. – I’m pretty sure you can keep any search engine busy for a while.
All I can says is – every day I find another reason that I am grateful that I homeschool my children and nothing anyone can say will change my mind about that.
Sumayyah Umm SAA